Valentine’s Day is usually a time for flowers and candy, but according to MedlinePlus, it’s also a day when approximately 2,800 people—parents, aunts, friends, siblings, uncles, cousins, children and grandparents—will suffer a heart attack. Of these, nearly 1,400 will die—leaving a tragic trail of broken hearts. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure or elevated cholesterol, your chance of contributing to these grim statistics goes up.
Carole Carson—dubbed “An Apostle for Fitness” by the Wall Street Journal and the author of From Fat to Fit: Turn Yourself into a Weapon of Mass Reduction—says, “February, which is American Heart Month, hosts Valentine’s Day, an occasion to celebrate loving relationships. What better way to say ‘I love you’ than by setting a positive example through healthful eating and regular exercise.” She suggests three ways to show you care by getting FIT:
F: Face the facts. A clear sense of your risks based on health measures (blood pressure, weight, and blood sugar and cholesterol levels) will give you and your loved ones an incentive to make needed changes. Instead of fearing the future, proactively invest in your health by making better choices today. Knowing the inevitable heartache that could come from continuing your current lifestyle will help you find the willpower to walk by the ubiquitous aisles of tempting Valentine’s Day candy and goodies.
I: Initiate a walk. Nothing conveys the essence of love more powerfully than two people walking hand in hand, whether they are lovers, a parent and a child or simply good friends. And while you’re out walking, pick up a gift for your sweetheart that promotes fitness, such as a pedometer or heart monitor.
T: Treat yourself and loved ones to heart-healthy cookies. Take your favorite cookie recipe and cut the recommended amount of sugar in half. Substitute applesauce or yogurt for the oil or shortening. You and your sweeties can enjoy the cookies twice as much knowing they reflect a commitment to extending your lives through wholesome eating.
Carole adds, “Loving others gives meaning to our lives. But we can’t forget to love ourselves as well—and that includes improving our eating habits, exercising regularly and shedding unhealthy weight.”
By joyfully embracing a healthful lifestyle, you can reduce the risk for heart-rending medical problems and improve your chances for enjoying future Februarys with those nearest and dearest to you.