2.06.2012

Confessions from the Heart

Sometimes you just need to put it in writing. You know, get it out there!  Talk about it.

I don’t like to admit it, but I am at risk for cardiovascular disease.

You know when you go to a doctor’s office, and you have to fill out all the personal family history? My forms look as if a red pen bled all over them. 

Diabetes in the family.  Check.

High cholesterol. Check.

High blood pressure.  Check.  Check. 

My dad had high blood pressure.  My mom has it.  I have it. 

My mom and me
I was diagnosed with hypertension in my 20s.  My weight was not a factor, nor were my eating habits. I weighed 124 pounds, and, yes, I could have exercised more.  I did have a high-stress TV job. I was constantly hyper and on-deadline.  I raced against the clock every day.  The more I raced, the higher my blood pressure would get.  It was almost a constant state for my body. 

It wasn’t until I left TV and got my job in hospital public relations and marketing that I was officially diagnosed with the disease.  Writing about health and working with doctors daily made my condition more transparent.  In this job, I was certainly in a less stressful environment, and I tried to maintain my blood pressure with diet and exercise for many years, but it didn’t work.

I needed medicine.  High blood pressure is just in my genes.

My own mother, at the age of 76, has not been allowed to drive under doctor’s orders for the past six weeks due to some cardiology testing.  Fortunately, her tests are coming back fine, but she is at a high risk for cardiovascular disease because none of her risk factors is under control.

Right now, my risk factors are under control, but I always have to be one step ahead of my game.  Heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined.  With my own family history, my daughter will be at risk, too. 

Baby Diva wears her red shoes for "Go Red for Women"
When Mimi’s Café asked me to attend their “Go Red for Women” campaign this past Friday, we happily wore red and enjoyed a heart-healthy lunch.  Mimi’s uses only zero-grams-trans-fat, cholesterol-free cooking oil for the items on their menu.  The charming French café chain, voted by Parents Magazine as one of the best kid-friendly restaurants in 2011, takes healthy eating seriously.  In their “Fresh and Fit” section, all entrees are 550 calories or less. 

Mimi's Cafe in Cary, North Carolina 

You can donate to the American Heart Association  all month at Mimi's Cafe
All month, Mimi’s will be raising funds for the “Go Red for Women” movement. With a minimum $1 donation, the restaurant will give you up to $35 in Mimi’s coupon savings.  With a $5 donation, you also get a red-dress pin. 

As someone who became a mom a little later in life, it is my heartfelt wish to live to see my children be successful and be parents themselves.  I also wish to be able to spend precious time with them in their adult lives.  I’ll be 58 when my daughter goes to college.   I can’t do anything about my age, or genes,  but I can do all I can to keep my risk factors under control by staying fit and eating healthy.  

Baby Diva wearing red and enjoying lunch at Mimi's Cafe

I encourage you to take a moment to check your risk factors and learn to be heart-healthy at any age.  As you heard from me today, the risk factors can start at any age in your life. The American Heart Association has put together fabulous resources for us to get and stay on the right track.  Let’s use them.

In honor of heart month, I will also prepare a heart-healthy meal for my family and share it with you on Feb. 24 for the recipe linkup, “Let’s Eat Ya’ll!” If you are a blogger, I encourage you to join me and link up your healthy recipe.

Today is the day to love life with all your heart.  Know your risk factors.  Know the signs of a heart attack. Keep your life healthy and your heart ticking.  For more information on how to become a better, healthier you, visit http://www.goredforwomen.org/BetterU/index.aspx.

Disclosure: I was invited by Mimi’s Café to participate in the “Go Red for Women” movement kickoff on Friday, Feb. 3, and received a complimentary lunch for my family in exchange for this post.  As always, my opinions were not influenced by the company, and I strongly support this cause and the American Heart Association.



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