Day 32 – Happy Heart Health Month

1 02 2010

Turns out February, with all of it’s heart-adorned decorations, is annually declared as American Heart Month by the President. A good thing when, according to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and the greatest health threat to women in the United States. Each year cardiovascular disease accounts for one in three women’s deaths.

My dad survived a heart attack at age 49. His father died of one at age 48. Neither of them were overweight, and they ate a generally healthy diet – especially my dad who has never been a smoker. With my gene pool and gender against me, I am conscious of heart health, and have had special scans as part of diabetes research studies through my endocrinologist. My cholesterol and blood pressure are fantastic…but given my family history I’ve always been concerned about what might change in my 40s. Yet another reason for this daily exercise project! (Did Classical Stretch for core and hips today on my rest day from running…)

Daily exercise is, of course, high on the list for heart health, along with the diet changes that I’m trying to focus on — more fiber, less fat. Here are the top changes I’ve made in the last month:

1) Oatmeal for breakfast (steel-cut, real deal)
2) Agave nectar (to sweeten tea, oatmeal, etc.)
3) Less red meat (try for once per week max)
4) More fruit, less processed carbs for snacks (apples vs. crackers)
5) More skim milk (2-3 glasses a day vs. 0-1)

These changes made my list because I like these foods. I’m not trying to make myself eat raw carrots and rice cakes, because that is a huge struggle for me. But eating more food that you actually like — and trimming some things out — doesn’t seem so bad.

When I was 12 and diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, the doctor and nutritionist made me keep food logs to be sure my daily insulin dose was correct. You had to count “exchanges” for each meal based on portions – long before nutrition labels came along. This made a teenage food log rebel out of me! Adding my insulin pump in my 20s meant I could eat just about anything, as long as I calculated the carbohydrates pretty closely. But no more logs!

Looking at the American Heart Association site, I actually found this fruit and veggie log that I am going to try for a week. I especially love fruit and serve vegetables most days for dinner. (Confession: in tonight’s rush to kids’ basketball and ballet, we had tacos, and I didn’t even have time to add the lettuce or tomato…) But 5 a day? Am I getting that recommended amount? I doubt it… I haven’t tracked it in more than 20 years. So in the name of research experiments and Heart Month I’m going to – at least for this week.


Day 13 – Fitter than a 5th grader

13 01 2010

Mr. Linville, the P.E. teacher at my kids’ school, hosted a challenge tonight to let parents test their fitness level with the assessment program he uses for grades 3-5. (Check out FitnessGram at:

Good news: I am as fit as a 17-year-old girl. I’m pretty sure I’m more fit than I was in 5th grade too. While our children counted for us, we had to do 20 meter laps across the gym paced by a recorded tape with music and bells to signal that you should turn around.

At 40 laps I was feeling today’s earlier 4.3-mile run – at least that was a good excuse for stopping. Then 40 curls/modified sit-ups and 20 push-ups followed to safely earn my certificate!

It was fun to see what the kids do each quarter for this progress report. Anna is proudly in the “healthy zone” for 3rd graders. The teacher gave a great slide presentation about rising obesity rates in the U.S. over the past several decades. (See Day 12’s nasty soda link for related info…) He’s doing his part to teach kids (and now their parents) about being active and eating right. With limited recess and P.E. time,  lunches — not to mention the nasty sodas — today’s kids need more Mr. Linvilles and parents on their side.

I hope that my own kids see Scott and I exercising as a regular way of life. (Yet another good reason for this project of mine…) My own parents ate healthy foods and my dad loved being active when he had time, but they certainly didn’t incorporate regular exercise into their days.

We are lucky to live in Colorado where the sun almost always shines and so many people are into fitness and health. (We are almost always near or at the bottom of those obesity charts.) There are so many runners, races and health-conscious people here, that you are inspired by friends and neighbors.

On a national level, it’s frightening, but we can at least control what happens in our own homes and be role models for our fitter-than-a-fifth-grader kids.

Day 12 – Soda saga

12 01 2010

As I type, Scott is in the living room trying out one of my recorded “Classical Stretch” shows. He is a very strong runner, but wants to add more stretching to help with some frequent pains.

Today, Miranda is stretching on a golf course, so that seems like an okay guy thing to Scott. I’m not sure he’s ever done some of these moves before! Ooops – I’m not supposed to watch!

Today reminded me that in Colorado beautiful sunshine can interrupt the bitter-cold of winter (December was the 7th coldest on record here since they started writing things down) and almost feel like spring. 55 degrees called for a 4-mile run through my neighborhood. I would love to get to 5 miles by Sunday – we shall see.

Since I work on the computer and read a lot of news to make a living, I tend to get distracted by random articles that I need to share. Today, I found this blog with an ad running in New York City to encourage people to give up soda and other sugary drinks. It’s pretty gross, but if you ever drink soda, you should watch: I am pretty sure I should show that to my kids in case they want to start drinking soda.

As a diabetic, I am proud to say I have only had one non-diet soda in the past 27 years (accidentally, when I bought the wrong package of Sierra Mist a few months ago – and wow did that spike my blood sugar quickly). I am trying to cut back on diet soda too – thinking I’ve had enough Saccharin, Nutra Sweet, Splenda, etc. to cause some internal damage I hope I never have to see on YouTube. 

Changing eating habits is a constant goal for me — but that’s a whole blog for another day. I am finding that daily exercise helps me drink more water, choose an apple over crackers for a snack and think twice about what I pull out of the fridge for family dinners. Maybe my whole family will end up healthier thanks to my little project. Especially if Scott makes it to the end of this stretching show and watches the soda ad!