Saturday, February 1, 2014

Doing the Heart Things

"Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." -- Proverbs 4:23

February is National Heart Month. What a fitting description of a month the celebrates love. This month Woman's day goes in depth about heart disease with risk factors you may or may not realize.

I have already broken some of my resolutions (including writing every day--where does the time go, seriously?) but one that I have kept so far is not smoking. As of today, I am 35 days clean. I am going to focus on that positive before disclosing (to you and myself) the other risk factors.

It's pretty commonly known that wine, in moderation, is good for your heart. Is it ironic that for smokers, drinking it often a foyer into smoking? The good news is, I have had wine eight days last month and I did not succumb to temptation.

Often we think of God's commandments as a burden. I lived through my twenties ignoring most of the Bible's wisdom. Today, I was sick and stressed, and above of physically drained. I decided to stay in bed and let the day pass by.

Then I thought again. I was tired physically but even more tired of not pushing myself to improve and move forward. I decided the first step was to get up; the second step would be to put makeup on and to perform a few basic errands. By the end of the day, I felt good about myself. I felt good about myself because I did the right thing.

I have the hardest time with temptation when my body is not well. I struggle the most with fatigue and memory, although other issues related to my medical problems are not far behind. I have cut sugar, prioritized exercise, and cut down alcohol consumption. The sugar cravings have been the worst. I don't even have a sweet tooth, yet going three days without much sugar causes withdraw you wouldn't believe.

But I also noticed the feeling of relaxation. Here are 5 things you may have not known about sugar:

1. Sugar can damage your heart.

2. Sugar promotes belly fat.

3. Sugar feeds cancer.

4. Sugar is an inflammatory agent 

5. Sugar hides in foods that are not sweet.

I first found that out when looking for sausage for a Woman's Day recipe. Every package I checked had corn syrup as a primary ingredient. I finally drove to another store and chose my standard--Aidells

Part of cutting sugar from my life has incorporated the ability to be temporarily unhappy. There are days I really, really want to buy donuts from the vending machine. I can feel the rush of adrenaline you don't realize you're missing when you ignore sugar's beckoning calls. But I ignore it, say no, feel the panic of not satisfying the craving and accept that it will pass. Because it will--and I'll be better off and have what I really want out of life. 

I think we have become deaf to a few realities: we spend more than what we have to gain what we don't want to satisfy desires that don't favor excellence. We complain about people on welfare or disability who could work and meet the requirements of the American Dream if they just "tried harder" but complain about our aches and pains and lack of funds while eating another helping of ice cream and upgrading our teenager's gaming system.

All of these attitudes about money, health, and success--what are the consequences?

I grow weary of our nation's emphasis on happiness. The banner waved is so often "whatever makes you happy." Whatever happened to "do what's right and eventually the joy in your life will replace old habits and desires?"

Life is hard. The pay off for making good choices is not as immediate. Instant gratification is easier. Commitment, faithfulness, loyalty in the face of adversity--none of these things are easy. But they are desirable to me. 

I look back at the list of avoiding heart disease: eat right, stop smoking, exercise, use restraint. I think of the Lord's precepts: be honest, work hard, love your enemies, persevere.

I would like 2012 to be a year where my heart, all around, is the strongest ever.


  1. Congrats on the no smoking! I'm really proud of you for that. Resisting sugar, too. I LOVE sugar. I don't think I could do it as much as I really should follow your example :/ We have a LOT of the same illness symptoms and problems. Including fatigue, memory issues and depression. I could write a list a mile long!

  2. Yes, I really need to continue with my goals. Losing weight and resisting temptation has really done a lot for my spirit.