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Be Heart Healthy For Valentine’s Day

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By Sheila Cluff

You know it’s true. If you feel great, you’ll look great. If you look great, you give off a sexy image that others find appealing. In this season of Valentine's Day that could mean steamy romance, red roses and dark chocolate.

Instead, take it to be a heart-shaped reminder to care for our hearts. Here are non-traditional ways to keep your heart healthy and spark sizzle in your life.

*Be brave, bold and brash about health. Be the person who loves wearing electric blue or hot pink. Let your fit feelings fly as you clear out the stuff that seems too last century.

Fitness isn’t about jogging five miles or working out at the treadmill. It’s about fun. So take ballroom dance classes, learn to hula, and join a group of tri-athletes. Throw off the must-dos and take on the fun dos. Wear Hollywood-style sun glasses. Stop for a bubbly water in that little café you always see after you drive away from the boring old fitness center. Listen to music from the 1930s or straight out of your teenager’s CD collection. Subscribe to some new healthy eating and healthier living magazines. Buy fashion magazines.

*Get glamorous. When was the last time you tried a new hairstyle, added low or highlights, had a facial peel? Have you booked regular manicures, pedicures and massages? This winter can produce not only eating foods that’s heavy on your heart, but mild depression that makes your heart feel sad. Then those extra pounds from the above mentioned high-fat foods can be an even bigger downer.

*Put your heart’s health first. If everyone in your group thinks the best times are when gobbling chicken wings slathered with fatty sauce, decide if you still have the heart to eat this way. Instead, be adventurous. Try new fruits and vegetables; get some recipes from the Internet or your favorite TV show to reduce the fat and calories. Enroll in some healthy cooking classes sponsored by the gourmet cooking shop, the community college or your local Y. Stop eating and doing the things that will ultimately hurt your beautiful heart. Besides, you will meet new, healthy people who are heart smart.

*Be bighearted. Children, babies and people of all ages need some helping hands and yours will do very nicely. It’s called “helper’s high.” This means that those of us who give time and attention to others feel better than the persons or pets getting all that TLC. Sounds selfish, I know, but after an hour of shooting baskets with kids at the rec center or working with a group to clean the beach, you’ll feel like a million bucks. Imagined the burned calories, too.

*Become an original. Make a list of things you think are impossible and then figure out how to make them possible. Stop trying to please others who only want the best for you. If life tends to become overwhelming, hire or negotiate help from family and friends. If life feels too overloaded seek professional advice.

*Become a citizen of the planet. Take care of your body so that you can do more. That means, have the physical check ups or dental care you know you should get. Wear your seat belt every time you get into the car. Don’t drive with the cell phone in your ear. Look to the future and if you haven’t written a legacy letter telling your loved one about your life, do that today. Make plans for the future. Take a one-day workshop dealing with ways to live be healthier, live longer or worry less.

*Walk with your heart in mind. Start each day with a walk, even if you can only squeeze in a half hour. Make your goal an hour or more of walking each day, Sunday off only if you do something else active. As you become more comfortable with walking, speed it up. Walk as if you’re late for an appointment. Get your partner involved. Some of the closest couples I’ve know are those who always walk together. It seems that any topic, any worry can be discussed between the huffing and puffing of a fitness walk.

*Eat for your heart. Concentrate on only eating a sensible diet. Splurge once a week, and do it moderately. If you’re a list making person, keep records of what you’ve eaten. If you’re rushing through your meals, my guess is that they’re probably on the high side with fat and sugar. Select and eat the freshest and most wholesome foods possible.

*Share what’s on your heart. Tell those who are close to you how important they are. Pack a “love note” in your partner’s brief case. Send your mom, sis or cousin a funny card or a bouquet of flowers. Buy some flowers at the grocery store and give them to a neighbor. Cut out a cartoon that made you chuckle and share it with a friend.

Keep a Valentine disposition year around. Take care of your heart and you’ll stay fit for life.

Sheila Cluff, fitness expert, television celebrity and owner of The Oaks at Ojai, is the author of Take 5: How You Can Benefit from Just Five Minutes of Daily Exercise and The Ultimate Recipe for Fitness by Sheila and Eleanor Brown. Visit Sheila’s Spa on the Internet and see all that’s happening at the resort: The Oaks at Ojai www.oaksspa.com.

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