Thursday, February 10, 2011

You're Beautiful

This week my heart has been heavy....

Confidence, no matter how much you have, can always be challenged when you're the "new one." Being one of many new graduate nurses helps... but still, it's been almost 3 years since I've had a full-time job and now, in what feels like a really good night's rest.... I'm a NURSE and finally - working!

I know I am a hard worker. I know I will provide Remarkable Care. I know I will do an EXCELLENT job.... but you can't not think about all the "what if's". I'm old enough to know not every thing or everyday goes as you always hope it does. Nursing will certainly hold no exceptions.

So, during my two hours a day in the car to and from Winston, when I'm not listening to NPR, I'm belting it out to some Glee tunes or along with a few of my favorites on KLOVE. This week, God gave me this powerful song and uplifting message (I picked a youtube video w/the lyrics so you can see it & hear it).


Even if you don't share the same faith I do... I think this song has a message for everyone. I hope it does for you, what it has for me! Remember: You are Treasured. You are Sacred. You are His.... You're BEAUTIFUL.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Exercise of the Day - Mountain Climbers

This exercise is on top of every trainers To-Do-List out there!

Mountain Climbers literally work EVERY single muscle in the body. Your starting position of plank alone gets all your muscles fired up and ready to work, then you add the motion! :) Get ready to get that heart PUMPING (after all, this month is alllllllllll about heart health!) and burn some major calories with this dynamic move:

1.) Start in PLANK POSITION (exhibit A). Wrists, elbows, and shoulders should all be in alignment. Keep your abs engaged (think: pulling your belly button to your spine) the entire time. Supporting you core is crucial in this exercise for benefit and safety. INHALE.
2.) As you EXHALE, pull one knee in towards your chest and tap your toe on the ground (exhibit B).
3.) INHALE and return your that foot to starting position - plank.
4.) EXHALE and pull your opposite knee in towards your chest and tap your toe on the ground.
5.) That is one repetition.
6.) I prefer to do this exercise as a time challenge - 20 seconds on: 20 seconds off (or slower) for at least 4 minutes total - but set a goal for MAX! :)

* Start this movement nice and slow so you can learn the movement and feel all your muscles engaging. But don't waste too much time though, speed this move up and get Burning!!!!!!!!!! :) Here's a quick video on this move:


Beginners - you have the option to start like this if you're finding you're having pain/weakness in your shoulders and/or wrists. 

After you master the basic move - Add an extra punch by pulling your knees across the body (as shown below) at an angle to really work your oblique muscles!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Quit Smoking

Tonight NBC Nightly News even talked about how our President is working hard to knock his bad habit - SMOKING!

With this month's focus on a healthy HEART we have to talk briefly about the nasty elephant in the "room": Smoking.

No - I've never smoked. I never ever even thought about it. My dad smoked a little when I was younger and I thought it was gross. My mom pretty much swore she'd kill me if I even thought about it (and I know she would have done her best to make me think she was going to if I had). By the time I went to college I had pretty much made up my mind that smoking was probably one of the nastiest habits on the planet.... then I dated a guy who smoked (casually, you know, with drinks/at parties/etc.) ... but I didn't even know it until I kissed him once after he had just smoked. I literally thought about barfing in his mouth. Seriously. That's how gross it was.

Anyway - I know I don't know how hard it is to quit this nasty habit. BUT, people do it every day, all the time. YOU CAN TOO! ..... Stop making excuses and just do it.

Smoking is the most important preventable cause of premature death in the United States. It is well known that smokers have a higher risk of developing many chronic disorders, including atherosclerosis — the buildup of fatty substances in the arteries — which is the major cause of coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Controlling or reversing atherosclerosis is an important part of preventing future heart attack or stroke.

Smoking decreases your tolerance for physical activity and increases the tendency for blood to clot. It decreases HDL (good) cholesterol. Your risks increase greatly if you smoke and have a family history of heart disease. Smoking also creates a higher risk for peripheral artery disease*(more on this below) and aortic aneurysm (aka - rupture of your largest artery = really high chance of dying!). It increases the risk of recurrent coronary heart disease after bypass surgery, too.

I found this image online and instantly laughed - but thought it might actually help get the point across to SOMEONE!

Sex is really important for many reasons... and for many men, not being able to participate in this wonderful act of love (stress management, pleasure, procreation, or whatever you do it for... ) can cause major depression, conflict, and anger. Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) is caused by the narrowing or blockage of arteries typically in the legs and pelvis. Arteries take blood away from your heart to the rest of your body. When it is harder to get blood flowing through the arteries - well.... the penis just doesn't work the way it's supposed to (or how you'd like it to!)! After all, an erection is only the result of rapid blood flow.  :)

So start the healing process now (yes, you can heal). Stop your bad habit - allow your lungs to breathe easier and your heart beat happier. [OH! And, keep your sex lives healthy as well!!]

*deep breath in*

*slow exhale*

doesn't that feel amazing?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

RISK takers be warned...

Your heart is ultimately in YOUR hands. Hopefully I've made that point by now. But just in case, I'll remind you again: Your heart is in YOUR hands. Cherish it.

It keeps working for you no matter what you do to it.... so love IT back.

Heart disease (CVD) can affect many people no matter who you are, what you do, or where you live. Here's a list of some risk factors none of us have any control over that put us at an increased risk for CVD:
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Heredity 
  • Race
  • Stroke (Coratid Artery Disease; Atrial Fibrillation, TIA's, Sickle Cell Disease, and other Heart Diseases)

Risk Factors that we have MORE CONTROL over or may be treated with help from your healthcare professional. Heart disease and stroke are largely preventable if you work to lower your risks. The more risk factors you have, the greater your chances of developing heart disease and having a heart attack or stroke.

  • Cholesterol
  • Blood Pressure
  • Smoking ( this includes second-hand smoke!!)
  • Physical Activity
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Birth Control Pills
  • Alcohol & Illegal Drugs

Heart Disease is the NUMBER ONE (1) killer of women... yup! More than cancer. More than car accidents. More than child birth... More than anything. Heart Disease is killing our women!!!!!!

** warning mom! i'm going to talk about youuuuuuu!**
Many of you may share a common fear of mine....  I am scared to death that heart disease will be the evil killer that will take my Mother from us.  No matter what I do, what I say, how I cook, or how I "beg".... I can't change my mom's risk factors. She's stressed out to the max, comes from a long line of horrific hearts, grew up in a home full of second-hand-smoke, gets minimal exercise ("I don't have time" I'm told), has issues with her blood pressure (mmm, stress will do that to you!), believe it or not - she was on birth control many times in her life (but that doesn't always work apparently), and well... she's the first to tell you she could loose some weight.

Sooo, yea. I'm scared. I'm scared heart disease will not only kill my mother, but me and other members of my family as well. I've seen lots of people die and I will be with many more in that special moment of their life... but nothing HURTS a family more than heart disease. A heart attack/stroke usually comes "out of NO WHERE".... it doesn't allow for time to cope or get comfortable with the idea of death. No one is ever ready to lose a loved one because of a heart attack (or a stroke... they may not die b/c of a stroke, but in essence, there is always a chance of losing the "person" you have always known due to personality changes, physical/mental disabilities, etc.).

Think about it. Make a change. Keep on lovin' the one organ that loves you most. :)

PS - Don't forget to wear you RED this Friday to raise awareness to your community!!!! Share the knowledge (and this blog!)!! :)

Love you guys,

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Going RED

In case you didn't know, I love your heart. :)   I'd love it even more, if we all took better care of it....

Today is the first day of February and the launch of the American Heart Association's "Go Red For Women" campaign. Throughout college and my participation in UNCG's Orientation program, every year I had the opportunity to participate in the local AHA's Heart & Stroke Walk. I think these events are what really got me so obsessed with your heart!!!

I, like many, come from a long family line of heart disease. When I was about 12 years old (I think) I lost my great-grand-father to a Stroke. Not a long after his death, his oldest son, my great-uncle died from what I have been lead to believe was also related to heart disease (AMI). Then... not long after his death, my Grand-father (my mom's dad) had a heart attack and a quadruple bypass graft followed that. Although I didn't really know all the causative agents, then as I do now, of heart disease.... I have always accredited this short time frame in my young life as what initiated the obsession I have with my own heart (and cardiovascular system).

Although this all stems from my maternal lineage, my father's side isn't much better. It is reaming with the same issues of high blood pressure, cholesterol and the cherry on the cake= Diabetes.

I work very hard to keep my risks low with diet and exercise... but last year after my first cholesterol screening (25 is way late to know this information for the first time!!), I was informed that even with everything I do.... my cholesterol was STILL slightly elevated. :(   I was literally crushed. Seriously - ask Todd. I cried. I had a pity-party. I got mad. Then I decided to make a few more changes.

I'm determined to CHANGE this genetic trait for MY family as much as I can. (yes, I would be willing to make extreme changes in my diet (vegan-ism) if that's what it will take! we all should be willing to do so if you ask me...) This year I have REALLY ramped up my intake of raw vegetables and fruits, reallllly worked to cut out and cut back on sugar and sweets, and double my fish intake. I'm getting prepared for my annual physical in a few months and I'm hoping and praying my numbers will show my extra efforts. :)

As a "Go Red For Women" wanna-be-ambassador, education is POWER. It is sooo important that we all know our risk factors and what the signs and symptoms of a heart attack or a stroke are. I especially put my focus on the ladies.

I gathered some information from the AHA:

What Is Cardiovascular Disease?
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) includes diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Most heart and blood vessel problems develop over time and occur when your arteries develop atherosclerosis, a process that begins in childhood and involves a gradual buildup of plaque inside your arteries.

Plaque contains fat, cholesterol and other substances, and can grow large enough to significantly reduce blood flow through an artery. Most of the damage occurs when a plaque becomes fragile and ruptures. Plaques that rupture can cause blood clots to form. These clots can block blood flow at the site of the rupture or can break off and travel through the artery to another part of the body. If either happens and blocks an artery that feeds the heart or brain, it causes a heart attack or stroke.

  • Heart Attack
From my experience working in the ER... I've seen many heart attacks. They all look different. Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, but most heart attacks start slowly, with mild pain or discomfort. Often the people affected aren't sure what's wrong and wait too long before getting help. Women especially are prone to "wait" because they had to get the kids from school or finish dinner....

Here are some signs a heart attack may be happening:
  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath. This feeling may occur with or without chest discomfort.
  • Other signs of discomfort. These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
  • As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain.
 * Ladies - also go with your GUT. "Impending doom" is often a symptom most women I've encountered say they felt... "They just didn't feel right."

What Is Stroke?
Stroke, the #3 killer of women, is a type of vascular disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. A stroke occurs when an artery that carries blood, oxygen and nutrients to the brain either bursts or is blocked by a clot. When that happens, part of the brain can't get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die.

When part of the brain dies from lack of blood flow, the part of the body it controls is affected. Strokes can cause paralysis, affect language and vision, and cause other problems. Seeking early treatment can minimize the potentially devastating effects of stroke, but to receive them, a person must recognize the warning signs and act quickly.

A Stroke is a medical emergency. Learn to recognize a stroke, because any delay in treatment can lead to brain damage. Warning signs may include:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

**Not all these warning signs occur in every stroke. If you or someone with you has one or more stroke symptoms that last more than a few minutes, don't delay! Immediately call 9-1-1 so an ambulance (and if your lucky, my brother-in-law) can quickly be sent to you.**

Also, check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared. It's very important to take immediate action. If given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.

It is NEVER too early or too late to think about your heart health (or our children). I'll post more information on prevention this week. Stay tuned...

Listen to your heartbeat every now and then. It works very hard for you! Be kind in return.