Heart Month

Ann Swanson

I think of February as “Heart Month.” Everywhere you look, you will see hearts these days. Although the red, white, and pink hearts have little to do with heart function, they are a great reminder to be kind to one of the larger organs of our body, the heart.

The jury is still out on whether a plant-based diet or a diet including animal fat is best for you. It depends on your way of thinking.

Personally, I favor a diet that includes all of the food groups. If it was good enough for our ancestors, it is good enough for us.

That being said, life today is different than it was years ago. Years ago, much of the labor was physical. People got a lot of exercise just doing their daily chores. That is no longer the case. Machines have taken over much of the exercise part.

While the homemaker used to get exercise when she washed and dried her clothes, now she just puts a load of wash in the washer, then transfers it to the dryer. There is no exercise involved. The husband used to wash his own vehicle, now he goes through the car wash once again eliminating all of the exercise. The woman does still gets to exercise when she cleans, unless she has a cleaning lady.

Children used to play outdoors. They ran and chased each other. They rode bikes. They walked places. Now, the children who participate in sports get exercise, but others do not. I like that commercial that shows the young man calling his grandmother for another grape soda. She rolls her eyes, but does not get it. He tends to be a bit pudgy as it is!

The pressures of modern society are a lot more than they used to be. Competition in the work force is tremendous. That alone takes its toll on a person’s body. Men and women compete for the available jobs. Being good at your job does not mean that you will succeed.

High blood pressure is a common issue for many. Thankfully, neither my husband or myself are prone to this. The less medicine you have to take, the better as far as I am concerned. If you have high blood pressure though be sure to take your medicine.

How do you best take care of your heart? Exercise is recommended, at least thirty minutes several times a week. I know people think they cannot find the time but it is essential. Walking is good exercise. It does not take any equipment to walk.

Diet also plays a part in good health. You do not want clogged arteries. There are all kinds of diets out there. If you need to lose weight, ask your doctor for a diet that will work for you and your life style. No matter what they say there is no fast, easy way to lose weight.

If you are grossly overweight gastric bypass surgery may be recommended. I have seen it work well, but I have also seen people go through it and gain back the weight they lost.

The secret to weight loss is a complete change of habits — eating as well as exercise. Nerves also play a part in this. Some people eat when they are nervous while others completely avoid food. Either of these conditions lead to temporary weight gain/loss.

One of the biggest causes of weight gain is the addition of sugar or starch to the diet. If you have diabetes, both of these quantities are restricted. I know I said I favored a diet that included all foods, but one must restrict the use of sugar if a diet is to succeed in weight loss or if you need to restrict your diet because of diabetes.

Years ago, I purchased a book about limiting or omitting sugar in the diet. It had many good ideas. Since I am not diabetic, I do not have to restrict sugar or starch.

Read those package labels. There is hidden sugar in many things that you would not anticipate.

The hearts we see are a reminder that Valentine’s Day is just ahead of us. My family always had a special Valentine’s Day dinner. I usually made red gelatin in heart molds. I got the heart molds from my mother-in-law. I cooked something that everyone liked. For dessert we often had heart-shaped cookies. Sometimes I made jelly-filled cookies with red jelly. My valentines were homemade. That is just how we did things. That was a way to show love without having to go out and purchase something. The children really liked the special dinner.

While the children were in high school, they often came home with many carnations in an assortment of colors. The student council sold them as a fund-raiser.

One year when the children were away, I fixed a Valentine picnic. That year we ate our supper on the floor seated on a blanket by the light of our oil lamp. That turned out to quite a romantic evening although my husband then was not into much romance.

I have told Don that I usually make my valentines. I know I cooked for him last year and sent some food home so he could have another meal. He favored me with a heart-shaped box of candy. I think he sent his daughter a box of candy as well.

However you choose to celebrate, be sure to tell your spouse that you love him/her. That can’t be said often enough.

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.


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