Monday Motivation: diet, exercise and heart health

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. February is Heart month. Both of these events are important to me. Nine Valentine’s Days ago, my infant daughter was recovering in hospital from the first of two open heart surgeries.

Today, I want to talk about improving your heart health as a motivator to eat well and exercise regularly.

In Canada, heart disease and stroke are the number one cause of death in women. In 2008, nearly 30% of women’s deaths were attributable to one or the other!

Although we often think of ‘heart disease’ as referring to arteriosclerosis (thickening of the blood vessels in the heart), it’s a much more general term, encompassing a range of conditions including acute coronary syndrome, angina, arrhythmia, congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease, heart attack, heart failure, endocarditis and a variety of valve disorders.

Estimates suggest that over 90% of adult Canadians have at least one of the risk factors for developing some form of heart disease during their lifetime. How many describe you?

  • overweight
  • diabetic
  • high blood pressure
  • high cholesterol
  • inactivity
  • smoking
  • stress
  • excessive alcohol consumption

The good news is, all of the above risk factors are life-style in nature. That means we can all lower our risk of heart disease by making some relatively simple changes in our day to day living.

  • start moving; incorporate moderate intensity exercise into your day, most days of the week
  • quit smoking (ask your doctor for assistance)
  • reduce alcohol intake
  • take up a relaxing hobby (like knitting!)
  • sleep more
  • eat more foods that are high in fiber (fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes and whole grains) and low in salt and saturated fat (clean eating is the perfect diet to help reduce cholesterol and blood pressure and eliminate type II diabetes)

Still not convinced that improving your heart health is a smart thing to do?

Consider the cost to your pocketbook of medications used to control diabetes and reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure (three of the risk factors for heart disease and stroke).

Here’s the receipt for my daughter’s most recent prescription refill.

That’s a three month supply of one of the two medications she takes to control her high blood pressure (a consequence of the time that elapsed between her first and second heart surgeries). The other costs even more. Not everyone is as fortunate as we are to have a good drug plan.

Heart disease is one of the few forms of death that you can cheat.

What will you do today to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke?

Looking for an inexpensive way to jump-start your journey to fitness and health? Join my online Bootcamp today! Get more info by clicking the image below.

Looking for an inexpensive way to jump-start your journey to fitness and health? Join my online Bootcamp today! Get more info by clicking the image below.


  1. Powerful motivator to make changes for health! Fortunately I do not fall into any of the risk categories you list. So glad you are celebrating your daughter’s birthdays and not writing an even sadder story. You are a powerful voice for positive change Tamara!

    • Thanks so much for your comments Kymberly! I too have no risk factors, other than I’m female and will some day be 55 (the risks we can’t control)!

  2. Excellent reminder, it is always a good reminder that just some small changes can make such a huge change in your life.

  3. amazing powerful post. thank you for share and reminding us to MOVE MOVE MOVE.
    Im now going to pay it forward and remind those I LOVE to move, too.


  4. bitesizewellness says:

    I am so glad your daughter is doing well. I love that you highlight that health is interconnected to so many aspects of our well-being and is much more than diet and exercise. As always, thank you!

    • Thanks for your support, Talia! I still find it hard to write about my daughter’s illness, as it is ongoing and likely to worsen over time. Focusing on a healthy today is my best response to a tough situation.

  5. Wow! Numbers certainly speak! Glad to see that your daughter is improving. This is a timely post and a fab reminder during this “Heart” month


  1. […] Tamara has some great tips for improving heart health. She also gives you a kick in the pants about the cost of medication! […]

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