It is Heart Health Month. And being so, I am going to pour mine out for you. I hope maybe it will touch someone. Because to tell you the truth, it’s kind of sensitive and not something I would typically share.
January was a bad month for me. I struggled with eating right and exercising. I didn’t sleep well and I felt intense stress. I suffered with panic attacks throughout the month. I felt helpless and robbed of precious time. I’m not sure if it is because I am getting older and my body is changing, but I have a tendency to worry to a point that causes these anxiety attacks. If you have never suffered an anxiety attack, which I had not until last year, they can be debilitating, terrifying and all-consuming.
For me, every twinge, ache or pain means that I am having a heart attack. I can’t sleep because I am afraid I won’t wake up. I hesitate taking medication because it is an admission of defeat. That is my mindset. I know it is wrong. But I have a hard time convincing my mind otherwise.
My fears of having a heart attack stem from the lack of exercise, poor eating habits, lack of sleep and stress. It is a vicious cycle. I know this because when I do the right things for my body, the panic attacks disappear. I know this, yet I continue to do the wrong things. It is time to break the cycle.
So I decided to join The Heart Truth 28 Day Challenge and the Go Red for Women initiative and take control. To be honest, control, or lack of, is ultimately the root cause for my panic attacks in the first place. On a negative day I tell myself I don’t have any control over my body or my anxiety. On a positive day, I tell myself I am taking control by eating right and making healthy choices. That I do have control over.
The challenge works by making little changes to your everyday routines therefore making a big difference in your overall health.
So for all my sistas out there (and brothers too), I hope you will join me. Remember, it doesn’t have to be running a marathon. It can simply be to take the first step and get off the couch for a walk. The first step is always the hardest, you know?
So come back each day and check out what’s going on. It’ll do your heart good. I promise.
Today I scheduled an annual physical for next week. I know this will help calm my fears about having a heart attack and relieve much of my anxiety. And, if there are underlying problems, I am aware and can take proper steps to make them better.
Fact: Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR DOCTOR
1.What is my risk for heart disease?
2.What is my blood pressure? What does it mean for me, and what do I need to do about it?
3.What are my cholesterol numbers? (These include total cholesterol, LDL or “bad” cholesterol, HDL or “good” cholesterol, and triglycerides.) What do they mean for me, and what do I need to do about them?
4.What is my “body mass index” and waist measurement? Do they indicate that I need to lose weight for my health?
5.What is my blood sugar level, and does it mean I’m at risk for diabetes?
6.What other screening tests for heart disease do I need? How often should I return for checkups for my heart health?
7.What can you do to help me quit smoking?
8.How much physical activity do I need to help protect my heart?
9.What is a heart-healthy eating plan for me? Should I see a registered dietitian or qualified nutritionist to learn more about healthy eating?
10.How can I tell if I’m having a heart attack?