Three Heart-Healthy Makeovers
Can you really improve your heart health and reduce your risk for cardiac disease?
A Graduate Student Takes Action Against Heart Disease continued...
"I was going through a pretty tough semester in the fall of 2006," says
Morgan. "I had three statistics classes, and at the same time I was
coordinating a community health and wellness fair. So between these two major
projects, it was a bit much, and over the course of several months I really let
my health hit rock bottom."
Risk factors of heart disease
And she paid the price. About a week later, she had a doctor's appointment,
where she learned her cholesterol was high, her blood pressure was above
normal, and her weight was reaching upwards of 250. At 5 feet 4 inches, she
knew she was in trouble.
"I thought to myself, 'Here I am planning a health fair, and I can't even
keep my own house in order,'" says Morgan.
Morgan's plan was to start over, and set fair and attainable heart-health
goals she could reach. She made it her mission to master every piece of cardio
equipment at the fitness center -- the elliptical, the treadmill, the bike, and
the dreaded stair climber. After a few months, she could spend an hour on any
machine at the gym and feel good about it.
As a PhD student, she knows the value of education, so she learned more
about nutrition and which foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and
legumes, would help her cause. She drank 80 ounces of water every day, and used
6:30 p.m. as her personal cutoff for eating or snacking to avoid going to bed
with a full stomach and to keep her daily calorie intake under control. Since
2006, Morgan has lost almost 50 pounds and continues to work at her weight. For
the sake of her heart health, she's working on getting her body mass index (BMI) under 25
and her waist circumference under 35 inches -- both good measurements for women
at risk for heart disease.
Indeed, a healthy meal plan is key to Morgan's success. For heart-healthy
eating, Zelman recommends brushing your teeth right after dinner to control
nighttime munching and eating a vegetarian meal several times a week (for
low-cal, nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich boosts).