Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Heart disease is also 100% preventable. It is a life-style disease and if you have it, it can be reversed through diet and lifestyle changes.
February is Heart Health Month which coincides with Hallmark’s favorite “holiday” … Valentine’s Day. Quite obviously planned that way, I am sure.
What you may not know however, is that February is also the anniversary of my mom’s passing … from a heart attack. Do you see the theme here?
She was 47 years old when she passed from a massive heart attack with very little warning. Two months prior, I had celebrated my 17th birthday and the joy of finally having a driver’s license.
My dad was turning 50 in early February as well and my mom worked endlessly planning a huge surprise birthday party for him.
She worked on every detail. She was so excited at who was coming and was busy buying all kinds of “over the hill” decorations.
It was also around this time, that I was making a more conscious (and vocal) effort to stop eating meat. Growing up I was never a huge fan of the stuff. There were a few things I would eat but I hated turkey and would always try and hide it under my mashed potatoes. 🙂
The party came and was a huge success. Two weeks later, she was gone.
For those that know me now, that photo may be a bit of a shocker.
I’ve always admired the “success stories” that I see online of those who have been transformed physically that I guess I never really saw my own transformation until I revisited these photos recently.
Yet, the transformation that I love the most, is how my mind set changed after my mom’s passing. Whether intentional or subconscious, I made the connection between eating certain things and heart health.
The older and more mature I became, I would learn to research, read and understand the connection fully and more importantly, implement it daily.
Now it is a way of life for me. I can’t recall anything else and there is no other way I would want to live. Do you know why?
Those two blonde cuties right there. Having turned 40 not too long ago, it hasn’t gone unnoticed in my own brain that I am just now 7 years younger than when my mom left this Earth and more importantly my family. In 7 years, the Peanut will be roughly 16 years old herself. I am certain that history will not repeat itself.
How am I so certain? Because I am in control. I know that cholesterol only resides in animal products. Think chicken is a better choice? It contains the same amount of cholesterol as red meat. Eggs? One egg has as much cholesterol as a Double Whopper. Think about that. One egg!? And don’t get me started on oil (any oil) – it has the potential to impair the flow of blood to your heart significantly not to mention it is highly caloric and contains no nutritional benefits.
Don’t worry, I am not going to turn this into a “don’t eat meat or oil post” … (but seriously, don’t) instead, I want you to stop and think about what you are putting in your mouth in connection with how you feel on a daily basis.
I didn’t jump right into kale salads mind you. I went through a junk-food vegan phase. Sure, Frito’s and Oreo’s are vegan but let’s be honest, that is not food, not really. It took time.
And like me, you may still envision yourself looking a certain way when in reality, you probably do not look like your 17 year old self anymore. While we are at it, how are you FEELING?
Do you get out of breath easily? Is it hard to get out of bed? Can you walk a mile easily? Do you get leg cramps? Acid Reflux? Sadly, heart disease does not often come with a warning. You don’t necessarily have to have high cholesterol or blood pressure either to have heart disease (my dad didn’t and he also suffered a heart attack).
There is a reason heart disease is called the silent killer. Sometimes the only warning that you get, is when you are having a full-blown heart attack and by then, it may be too late.
Don’t kid yourself. Everyone is getting older. Moderation is not “okay” anymore. As Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, the author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease has said, “If you eat unhealthy foods in moderation, then you’ll have a moderate heart attack.”
I miss my mom every day. I often say: If I knew then what I know now, she’d still be here. Yet I might not know what I know now, if she hadn’t had a heart attack. I might still look like my 17 year old self, but with gray hair and quite possibly a few pounds heavier.
People often think Vans and I are so “fit” because we bike and run. That is only a small piece of the puzzle. When I was 17, I was playing basketball, softball and soccer – all year round and sometimes two sports at one time! You wouldn’t know it though by that photo.
Thin doesn’t equate healthy. I want you to look inside. I want you to really look. What is most important to you right now?
Is it really worth jeopardizing your health, your life, your family to consume something that has the potential to stop the flow of blood to your heart? Forever?
Medication only masks the problem. It doesn’t fix it. Food, the right food (aka plant-based whole foods), can fix it. The right food, can reverse the damage that has already been done. The right food can allow you to see your children grow, walk them down the aisle and have grandchildren. The right food, can save your life.
We’re only given one heart … take care of it.