Heart Choices: February 2015

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Exercise is a Healthy Heart Choice

I know you've heard it over and over again. Exercise is good for you. You have to exercise! Exercise is a healthy heart choice. But let me ask you a question. How many of you enjoy exercising? What excuses do you have for not exercising?

I can't tell you how many women my age groan when they hear the "E" word. Even friends who have the time would rather do anything else but ...exercise.

It takes discipline and commitment. Another dreaded word; the "D" word.

I can honestly tell you I'd rather sleep an extra 45 minutes in the morning. But I've learned that unless I get up and jump on my treadmill first thing, I'm not going to get around to doing it. I may have every intention of exercising when I get home from work but something always seems to get in the way. Even on weekends, I have to do it first thing.

Why do people exercise?
  • Some people exercise to lose weight.
  • Some people exercise because they love to eat.
  • Some people exercise because their doctor told them to do it.
  • Some people exercise to set a good example for their children.
  • Some people exercise because it makes them feel good.
  • Some people exercise because they find they have more energy during the day.
You can add your own reasons to this list. (I'd love to know why you exercise if you do.)

I'm getting older. You're getting older. These are facts.

Each year seems to go by quicker and quicker. I work with people who are mostly younger than me. I teach little children who have lots of energy. It's important for me to keep up.

What I've learned over many decades is that ...exercise is a major key to enjoying a healthy and rewarding older age.

Have you ever noticed how many elderly people become so frail that they spend their days sitting. Every activity becomes a struggle. Is this what we have to look forward to as we get older? Now there are certainly medical conditions that may cause people to become more sedentary. But there's something called sarcopenia that medical people use to describe a condition that becomes quite common in the elderly. They have a change in body composition where they lose muscle and there's more fat. Their bodies become weaker and they have more of a tendency to fall.

And guess what?  It's preventable!

Yes I'm growing older each day. But I want to have the energy I need to do the things I enjoy.

Since this is still February which is Heart Month, I will continue to share my two cents with you about making healthy heart choices. And exercise is a healthy heart choice.

So what are you going to do today? How about going for a walk? If the weather is too cold outside (unlike us in Phoenix) why not pull out one of those exercise DVD's or watch a YouTube video and get moving. What choice will you make today? It's one day at a time, one choice at a time.

Blessings and love,


Valentine's Week Blessings

What a fun Valentine's week! Holidays are so different for me when I get to spend them with children. This past week we had a Valentine's party at school and the children were permitted to dress up for the holiday. They looked so cute. I'm so used to seeing them in uniforms so this was a nice change.

The students in my Mini-Mustang class are the youngest at our school (2.75 - 3 years old). I have to be creative as I want them to learn but at the same time have fun. By this time, they all know and recognize the first letter of their name. They can identify their own cubby and find their seat with their name.

I cut out assorted color hearts and wrote all the letters of their names on each one. I scrambled the hearts and placed them in the middle of the table. The children had to find all the letters of their name. I could see them looking at the letters of their name tags as they searched. I was so thrilled as they were successful in this task. I added a red heart at the beginning of their hearts and they drew a nose and added googly eyes and we stapled it all together.

To help with math, I brought in a bag of chocolate kisses. They have bags of red, pink and silver at this time of year. I had the children sort them on a graph. Then they had to count each row and tell me which color had the most and which color had the least.

The children also got to sort little candy hearts by color. The challenge I had was to be sure they weren't eating all the candies. I was so glad this activity went well as my principal popped in unannounced to see how our class was doing. :)

We have a wonderful Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA)at our school. Since I celebrated my birthday in February, I was presented with an individual bundt cake decorated so pretty. I'm saving it in my fridge. Yum, yum!

My husband Greg and I had a quiet Valentine's Day at home. That was perfectly fine with me after the busy week at school. After thirty years of marriage, it's so nice to hear the words "I love you" and to simply sit and hold his hand. After going through many ups and downs in our lives, we're at a place where we appreciate one other and enjoy spending time together. We love to sit in our living room as we talk about what's on our hearts as we listen to soft romantic music.

I hope you had a lovely Valentine's Day. I know many people have lost loved ones or maybe are in a season of being alone. I think of my dad as he misses my mom. I think of my friend who is newly divorced and another who hasn't married but would love to find the right man. Just remember that there is someone who loves you and His name is Jesus. God is love; the only perfect love.

Blessings and love,


Weigh-In Wednesday: Back in the Saddle Again

Let me ask you a question? Do you want to be in good shape? I think the universal response would be a resounding YES! And I'm included in that response.

For the last forty or so years I've been consistent in my exercise program. I used to teach post open heart patients about how to take better care of their health. I believe that if you teach something, you need to live it. I'd advise them to make a daily appointment for exercise. They wouldn't think of leaving their house without brushing their teeth. And I told them exercise was just as important for their health. So many times patients would follow advice after a major life threatening event. They realize how fortunate they are to be alive and want to do whatever it takes to keep it that way. But as time goes on ...it's so easy to go back to old habits.

My habit of exercise wavered when I went through tough times for several years. The stress ended up impacting my daily routine. I have to admit that chocolate candy kisses taste so good and I made too many Norwegian waffles. (A little bit is fine and I stand by that.) Food can be so easy to use in our attempts to satisfy those emotions. And then add to that returning to full time work in a different profession after being retired for 12 years. Well, who has time for exercise?

I learned an important lesson.

If I want to keep in shape ...daily exercise is a must!

  It's got to become a habit once again.

I began to schedule my time. I love to have my quiet time and do my writing in the early morning hours before work. I start work at 7:30 and get off about 4 so I figured I could come home and exercise. But as the weeks went on, I found more days when I would make a few stops on the way home  And then I was too tired to exercise.

So I went back to what worked best for me.

I have everything ready the night before; exercise clothes, water, headphones, Kindle, music. I roll out of bed and get on the treadmill. I also went back to recording my weight. I keep track of how much exercise I do. I use light weights every other day and I stretch every day after the treadmill. This works for me.  So why change it?

I recently read this saying by Lysa Terkerust. How often do emotions get in the way of doing what we intend to do? I try to bypass this by exercising first thing in the morning before my brain gets engaged. :)

I also want to mention something for those of us who are getting older.  Our bodies need less calories than when we were younger. So the calories we take in should come from healthy food.

Since this is Heart Month, maybe this is the perfect time to start establishing a new habit. So who is on board with me? It's not too late to get back in the saddle again. Let's keep each other accountable.

Blessings and love,


The Blessings of Frozen Moments

Something magical seems to happen when little girls talk about Elsa and Anna from the Disney movie "Frozen". They know all of the words to the songs. If the DVD is on in our classroom at school, the girls begin singing the words accompanied (of course) by the hand motions. 

I was invited to a birthday party for a friend's little girl who was turning three years old. This was right up my alley since I now teach a class called the Mini-Mustangs. My students are this same age. Of course, the theme for the party was Frozen and little Tina adores Elsa. Her Elsa ballerina dress was very beautiful.

I have to laugh as I love to watch little children interact with one another. Tina and her friend had been wearing pretty sandals to the party. But they decided it would be so much more fun to take them off and run barefoot. 

As I observed these two little girls sit and talk, I thought of how innocent and sweet they were. No worries. It's the way it's supposed to be at this time in their lives. 

And then as more children and parents arrived, there was an amazing surprise. Elsa and Anna arrived at the party!

They sat and read to the children. And they paused many times to allow the little ones to respond when asked a question about the story of Frozen. And then they began to sing songs from their movie. They would ask the little girls to sing and dance with them. 

"Let it go. Let it go. Don't hold it back anymore ..."

And little Tina got to dance with Elsa. A dream for this little girl. I heard her whisper to Elsa, "I have the same dress as you."

I watched as this newly turned three year old girl just couldn't help herself. She turned and hugged her Elsa. It was so precious!

I left this birthday party with a huge smile on my face. To see the joy on the faces of these children was very special to me. 

So I continue to count my every day blessings, including those Frozen moments. 

Blessings and love


Five Minute Friday: KEEP

It's Five Minute Friday when I link up with Kate Motaung. Each week we are given a one word prompt. We have five minutes flat to write. Our word for today is KEEP.


I hear the words 'let it go' every day. I teach preschool children and so it's not unusual to hear little girls spontaneously start to sing the familiar song from the Frozen movie.

I hear the words 'let go and let God'. These are words of faith. But how often do doubts and worry replace trust? In a world that can be turned upside down, it can be all too easy to cling to our things and people in our attempt to keep them close.

How thankful I am for the words of assurance from my Bible. The verse from Isaiah 26:3 is one that I often quote when my mind is tempted to gravitate towards worry.

As I learn to trust my God, the Holy Spirit so often provides me with a peace beyond understanding. I cling to this Scripture. I am reminded that nothing in this world will last forever. I cannot keep it. But as I let go and trust God, I have His peace.


Blessings and love,


National Wear Red Day is Friday

February is a special month for me. Yes, my birthday is the first day of the month but it's also Heart Month. It's the month when we draw attention to the fact that:

The #1 killer of women is heart disease.

It's often thought of as a men's disease but it's not.

I've often heard people justify their poor health habits by saying you have to die of something. Why not a sudden heart attack? But that's not always the case.

I worked as a cardiac nurse for 25 years. I once conducted a survey asking heart patients what they were most afraid of. I thought they would say they were afraid of dying of a heart attack. But no. They were more afraid of surviving a heart attack and becoming dependent on others.

It's a preventable disease. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes and prediabetes,  lack of regular exercise, family history of heart disease, age 55 or older (for women). The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's website has much more information.

As a child, I suffered the effects of a congenital heart defect. I was unable to keep up with other children. I spent much time alone coloring and drawing. When I was seven years old, surgical techniques had improved so I was able to have the operation to correct my defect. Today I am healthy and have no limitations. The American Heart Association helped my mom find blood donors. At that time we needed 30 blood donors with B+ blood to donate the day of my surgery. Every year afterwards, my mom and I walked door to door collecting money for this organization.

Many years later, I was asked to speak to a large auditorium of people at New York Presbyterian Hospital. It was a homecoming for former patients and healthcare workers. I had my surgery way back in 1960. Here I am wearing RED with my heart surgeon Dr. Malm. This was back in 1971.

I was impacted greatly by my heart condition and surgery. I became a cardiac nurse. I continue to encourage others to choose a more healthy lifestyle. It's your day to day choices that determine what your tomorrows will become. I truly believe that.

Let's bring attention to this deadly disease and not continue to assume it's a man's disease. Women are dying of heart disease every day. Find out your risk factors and make the choice to take better care of your health.

So I am going to ask you to do something. Will you wear RED this Friday?

Blessings and love,

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