Healthy life

CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH FOR WOMEN

From a health and fitness point of view, and specifically when we chat about the health of women in general, what do we really know or understand about cardiovascular health for women. I didn’t understand too much about it myself until I started reading up about it. Prior to my interest in cardiovascular health and my reading, I was more interested in seeking out solutions to improve the outcomes for women in regard to them being able to participate in regular exercise programs without the stigmas that many women are stilled faced with.

Call it what you will, these stigmas are generally and misguidingly influenced by religion and culture. It seems amazing to me that, still to this day, there is the belief that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, so to speak. Is it any wonder then that historically over the last number of years, women have been more prone to heart disease? They are also more vulnerable than men in regard to other diseases such as diabetes and obesity, both of which are increasing at alarmingly unprecedented rates.

The focus of this and the next set of blog articles will be on cardiovascular health. I will be giving readers some brief notes on issues related to heart disease and what can be done to prevent it or at least reduce the risks of women ever inheriting it. Speaking of which, it is also quite tragic that many diseases, even diabetes to a degree, are inherited diseases. How tragic is that? Nevertheless, it has been shown time and time again that it is possible to overcome and manage disabilities. Women have been able to overcome tragic circumstances and go on to live long, happy and prosperous lives, mainly because they took the time and effort to empower themselves with knowledge on how to address health and fitness issues.

This series of blog posts I would therefore like to dedicate to those courageous women who have gone on to defy the odds and simply inspire others to follow suit. In this current series of blog notes, alongside some of the information on cardiovascular health will be the following. There will be a general overview on cardiovascular health with a specific note addressed to women. My notes are mainly motivational and are designed to encourage readers not to drop their guard and address their shortcomings in health and fitness, if they have any.

Added to health and fitness imperatives, I feel, must be a discussion on wellbeing, or wellness. Again, the discussion specifically targets women. Chats on wellbeing are divided into physical and emotional wellbeing. You will soon see how the two are interlinked and that neither can enjoy a successful outcome without the other. Just for enjoyment’s sake (and for motivation), I have decided to include a note on one healthy dietary tool or practice known as the making of smoothies, or smoothies. Alongside this will be a brief chat on healthy food for the heart.

The posts run chronologically, as I have just indicated. They will also be serialized, if necessary. That is to say that if I feel our chat is not over in the designated time and space given for the blog post, bearing in mind too that we all have our busy lives to attend to, it will be continued in the next post. Thank you for signing up with me, and I do hope that everything that is written here gives you the necessary boost to do something about your health and that of your loved ones. So, without further ado, let us begin the discussions on cardiovascular health.

Let us begin with the symptoms to look out for if it is suspected that someone, perhaps even you, is about to suffer a heart attack. I thought I’d bring up this topic right away because I have experienced panic and, thankfully, a false sense of alarm before. Whatever I was feeling before, a nervous sweat perhaps, turned out to be nothing more than that.

Let it be known that heart attack symptoms can be significantly different for women than they are in men. But these following symptoms are generally felt by both sexes. Let me relate to you one symptom which I have personally experienced a number of times only to learn that it was nowhere close to a heart attack. For different reasons, I felt sensations of nausea. This generally means that you are feeling sick to your stomach. Other women often complain of feeling dizzy. Then there is something else that I’ve experienced before; the breaking out into a cold sweat, although that encounter was rare for me. Still, it did happen and it was scary.

I have often felt tired, even on days when I was not busy. Shortness of breath is another symptom. But the most common symptoms felt by both men and women are pain in the arms, neck, jaw, back or upper stomach. The big one is the chest pain. It is described as being a pressurized sensation or heavy ache.

 

 

EMOTIONAL WELLBEING FOR WOMEN

Hello, hope you enjoyed reading my first post on cardiovascular health for women. I trust that it was sufficiently informative and motivational for you, particularly those of you who, like I did once upon a time, are opening your eyes for the first time on the pertinent issues of health and fitness, specifically related to women. May I widen your eyes a little further by talking to you about our emotional wellbeing? I regard this subject as something of a niche topic for me because of my personal background and my present-day advocacy in favor of improving lives, specifically those of women and their children.

Nothing makes my day more than seeing a fellow woman smile for good reason. Nothing breaks my heart more than encountering a woman or child that has been abused. Physical abuse is easily detected because the scars and bruises will be visible in any case. And it is not easy for any woman to hide her marks from those who truly care about her wellbeing. What is not so easy to detect is the emotional trauma that any one woman may have experienced. It’s buried in the recesses of her heart and is not always let out for others to know about.

But let’s put that aside for a moment because I am still thinking what cardiovascular health means to me and, perhaps, to you as well. To my mind, it is a process that entails looking after the human interests of both body and emotions. On the physical side, cardiovascular wellbeing comes about through regular physical exercise, weights or aerobics, or sporting activities, such as tennis or basketball that are generally enjoyable pursuits and involve bonding with others. Emotionally, the less stress one has in one’s life, the less chance there is of nervous palpitations or heart attacks.

And, of course, alongside the healthy active life must be healthy eating that is well balanced and includes all the important food groups. But the argument goes that exercise offers you cardiovascular benefits that simply eating right and being emotionally okay doesn’t. It boosts your metabolism to no end and helps you to keep your weight and fat levels at constant, healthy levels. It boosts your pride and confidence in being able to reflect in the mirror just how well shaped your body has become over a period of time.

Those that have been classified or clinically diagnosed as being morbidly obese also go on to picking up other tragic illnesses such as depression. It cannot be surprising just how much emotional pain must be caused from the realization of not being able to do the things that others, like you and me, take for granted. I cannot imagine what it must be like not being able to run free in a meadow, or ride a bicycle on a warm, sunny afternoon. It takes a lot for heavily overweight women to get to that point but just know this ladies, if there are some of you out there going through such weighty traumas, weight loss can be achieved, and it is best achieved through cardiovascular exercise.

Those that have gone too far down the road in regard to living and eating unhealthily and who now need lifelong treatment need not be depressed any longer either. If you have diabetes now, it is still possible for you to lead a long and healthy life. If you have a heart condition, you will be alright just as long as you are taking your prescribed medication along with your daily exercise and following your heart-orientated eating plans.  Not there yet? Now is not the time to be complacent. Simply make sure that you go at least twice a year for regular testing of your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. These days, not even the poorest among us can excuse themselves from such necessities. Government clinics, as a matter of course, are running such tests for free. It makes sense for them to do this because otherwise they would be saddled with the exorbitant medical costs. But, generally speaking, the old proverb applies to all of us. Prevention is better than the cure.

HEALTHY SMOOTHIES AND HEALTHY FOOD FOR THE HEART

And so it goes. We have come this far. We’ve had a heart to heart chat, in more ways than one, on the values of cardiovascular health. To think that it all began with my own heartfelt feelings for other women who are still going through a lot of strain on both the emotional and physical fronts. Now, you all know just how invaluable improved cardiovascular health can be in your life. Before I forget, let me just briefly introduce you to an interesting angle on healthy food for the heart. Already a few years in practice, the making of healthy smoothies is still being experienced as something of a sensation, even by those who are not too particular about their health but more in love with satisfying their taste buds.

Because I can tell you this much. Not only are smoothies wholesomely nourishing, they are awesomely tasty. While it is necessary for you to focus on specific food groups, specific to your health conditioning requirements, you can truly have a field day when it comes down to satiating your tastes. Health nuts, if I may use that expression, are already quite accustomed to what are known as green smoothies where there is a strong focus on the use of green vegetables.

My favorite, however, remains the breakfast smoothie which can also be enjoyed at other times of the day as a lighter than usual snack in between regular meals. These smoothies can be packed with fat-free plain yogurt, oats or muesli, raisins and nuts and your favorite breakfast time fruits. Mine just happens to be the banana. And instead of focusing too much on leafy greens, I like a good dollop of green avocado in my green smoothie.

Now, to put more stock on improving our cardiovascular health, let me impart to you a few reminders on what to look out for when striving towards a daily, balanced meal plan that is as heart-friendly as it can be. Other nutritionists are still saying choose foods that are low in salt or sodium. I say discard the salt altogether. Your heart will be thanking you in the morning for this. Also, others are suggesting that one should merely ‘cut back on sugar’. Granted, I know from personal experience just how difficult it can be to initially punish the old sweet tooth.

But I learned to gradually wean myself off white sugar and my favorite sugary snacks. Breakfast time or teatime, I’ve now utilized organic honey as my healthy replacement for processed white sugar. For once, I can agree that foregoing everything that is extremely harmful to you if taken in large or regular quantities overnight is near impossible. But it can be achieved over time. Soon, you’ll be growing your own organic vegetables instead of snapping up cans of the preserved varieties. You’ll be eating a little more fish instead of indulging in your favorite ribs on the barbecue fire.

And here is another reason on just why I hate red meat. Because it’s such a strong message to make a note of, I’m going to quote it in full just as I read it elsewhere. ‘Limit foods that have Trans fat. Too much Trans fat can cause heart attacks’. That’s putting it bluntly. Forget about red meat, what about all the processed foods in our supermarkets that we have all become quite accustomed to over the years. They are still there. But at least we now know that we have our reading glasses and we can read the ingredients labels on the products that we thought we fancied with our dinner tonight.

And that is about all I have to say on the subject of healthy eating for a healthy heart tonight. You know, all this talk of food has made me quite hungry. In a healthy sort of way, of course.

THIS IS JENNIFER’S BODY

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This is Jennifer’s body

Forgive me if I spooked you for a minute. For the rest of you, let me explain. Also, remember that this is a personal blog and series of journal notes on the life and times of, well, me. Now, those that did not know this, ‘Jennifer’s Body’ is the title of what was a horror movie a few years back. I saw it but perhaps due to my nerves of steel then, I did not at all find it spooky or remotely scary. Call me a purist, but I do not think they make horror movies the way they used to. Read more

PHYSICAL WELL-BEING FOR WOMEN

So it has come to pass that emotional wellbeing may just not be possible without physical wellbeing. This next string of words, therefore, continues to emphasize the importance of cardiovascular exercise, a strain that I seemed to veer towards in my last post which, again, I hope was sufficiently informative, if not, inspirational for you. I say inspirational, because those of you who are discovering new things about yourself in the sense that you now know just how much better your life can be with regular exercise and being, quite frankly, physically active in your life.

If you just want to lose weight, for starters, you should be encouraged to know that there are cardiovascular exercise plans that last anything from around four to twelve weeks before positive results begin to be seen and felt. The cardiovascular physical exercise plan works in tandem with a healthy eating plan which is also based on actual weight against size and height of the woman. Because it is also a process of recovering lost strength (muscle) there will be a focus on eating protein enriched foods, such as eggs, poultry and fish.

I deliberately excluded red meat at this stage because for me personally it has become non-negotiable. Red meat carries far too much unhealthy fat and sodium levels are also sky high. What concerns me more is the high bacterial content in red meat. I understand that it remains particularly challenging for many women to seek out or purchase the healthier, organic alternatives. This will always depend on their socio-economic and geographic circumstances.

For many overweight women, cardiovascular exercise is not at all easy, certainly not in the first few weeks of training. Quite by chance, I came across an analogy used by a fitness enthusiast which I think is well worth sharing. I think it’s superb because it’s also encouraging for those who are bound to struggle in the early days of trying to discard excess fat. The term used is ‘steady-state cardio’. What I like about this is that the main exercises it entails is nothing to be frightened of. Within a few days, it will be a pleasurable breeze. These steady state exercises include brisk walking. From brisk walking you can graduate to jogging. Note that there is a distinct difference between jogging and actual running.

Cycling gets included in this analogy as well; however, it is not as intimidating as it looks. There is no need for you to be dodging traffic in dangerous to negotiate lanes. There is no need to fret over losing your balance due to carrying a heavy weight. The bike in question is a stationary one. There are customized exercise bikes built just for you. You don’t even need to visit a busy gym to enjoy your weight loss ride. You can purchase your own bike and plonk it in your living room. Enjoy the show while you enjoy your ride.

Then there is interval training which allows you to push yourself intensely for short bursts. Of course, your body will only be able to take so much. The intervals allow you to take those short breaks to catch your breath and allow your heart rate to drop closer to its normal level. I must go. It is time for my walk.