How to Be Good to Your Heart

I can't stress the importance of good heart health, which is why I'm sharing three tips on how to be good to your heart for you to incorporate into your daily life.

  1. Practice self-love
  2. Eat for your heart
  3. Incorporate the color red

1. Practice self-love. Sometimes good health starts from within.

One of the biggest ways that we “hit our own inner glass ceiling” is by not letting go of limiting beliefs. Limiting beliefs are deep-rooted, often unconscious, statements that occur from when we experienced something in childhood that we didn't understand and couldn't process.  An example might be as follows:

A young child wants his mother to pay attention to him, but she is too exhausted, busy, and consumed with a difficult marriage.  Feeling desperate for attention, the child acts out with a temper tantrum.  Not being able to handle the boy's temper tantrum, the mother sends the boy to his room for hours, giving the boy the opposite of what he really wanted (he wanted attention but got rejection). This young boy might adopt a limiting belief along the lines of, “it's not right for me to be angry.”

In his excellent book, When the Body Says No, Dr. Gabor Mate, M.D., lays out the following eight limiting beliefs in the chapter “Biology of Belief” (based on the groundbreaking work of Dr. Bruce Lipton).

-I have to be strong
-It's not right for me to be angry
-If I'm angry, I will not be lovable
-I am responsible for the whole world
-I can handle anything
-I'm not wanted/I'm not lovable
-don't exist unless I do something
-I must justify my existence I have to be very ill to deserve being taken care of

Limiting beliefs create blocks and fear within us, and they limit our ability to fully love ourselves. Breaking down these blocks is a critical part of self-love. For more information about how to overcome limiting beliefs, this is one of the best and most comprehensive articles I've seen on overcoming limiting beliefs.

I was recently at a training on Brainspotting, and we saw a lot of trauma come up in clients going through this amazing treatment. The trainer, who also has a very busy private practice as a counselor, talked about how she holds space for healing while clients are processing difficult memories and traumas.  Crying and outbursts are something she as a therapist needs to handle on a daily basis. She told us that rather than allowing the outburst to trigger her, she simply repeated a Hawaiian prayer called Ho'oponopono.

I think we could all use a little Ho'oponopono practice as we listen to that often mean “voice in our heads” or even those unconscious or preconscious limiting beliefs.  The Ho'oponopono is as follows:

I'm sorry,
please forgive me,
thank you,
I love you.

Try Ho'oponopono this month for yourself as you work on self-love.

2. Eat for your heart. Familiarize yourself with the top heart-healthy foods below, thanks to the wonderful contributions of Juliette Britton, RD (who you can listen to on episode 18 of my podcast, Mountain Mantras: Wellness and Life Lessons). Here are the top foods* —  stay tuned for great recipe ideas in each category:

  1. Oatmeal
  2. Salmon
  3. Avocado
  4. Olive Oil
  5. Nuts
  6. Berries
  7. Legumes
  8. Spinach
  9. Flaxseed
  10. Soy
  11. Chocolate**

*Source:  Health Magazine “10 Best Foods for your Heart”
**Source:  Juliette (thank you, Juliette, for adding chocolate!)

If you like veggie recipes (see food #7), you'll love this resource from podcast guest Janette Hillis Jaffe on how to fit more veggies into your life (hint- 10 recipes in a beautiful PDF)!  (Listen to Episode #13 with Janette).

A note on Healthy Heart Food  #10: Soy. Go looking for some non-GMO edamame and have fun with the easy Not Your Mama’s Edamame recipe from Nurture.

A note on Healthy Heart Food #11: Chocolate!  I loved that Juliette added this to the list, and you will absolutely enjoy coming home from a wonderful day in the cold/snow to a warm slow-cooker full of delicious Hot Chocolate.

3. Incorporate the color red. I've been visiting schools and working with kids and nutrition (through my work as the founder of the nonprofit Nurture) for over a decade. One of the most impactful events is a RAINBOW DAY where we get the kids excited about eating a rainbow of fruits and veggies. The kids learn that each color from mother earth is very important for your body.

Do you know what the color RED does for your body?

See Blake (the character from my children's book series, Give it a Go, Eat a Rainbow) hugging the tomatoes at the left?

Yes, red is very good for your heart.

Tomatoes are high in a compound called Lycopene.  Dr. Andrew Weil provides a great definition of Lycopene:

“Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, which means that, among nutrients, it has a greater-than-average ability to “quench” free radicals that cause damage to cells. Excessive free radical damage has been implicated in the development of heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and many cancers, as well as accelerated aging. Lycopene is a carotenoid, responsible for giving many fruits and vegetables – especially tomatoes – their red color.  It is also abundant in red carrots, watermelons, papayas and pink grapefruit”. (Source:  Dr. Andrew Weil)

Read more about a study of 126 men who demonstrated a significant reduction in heart health risk metrics (CRP, a marker for inflammation, being one of them) after taking Lycopene supplements.

While you're working on your own nutrition and health goals, be sure to include your heart as a high priority with these 3 helpful tips!

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