By Gina Cousineau
In the midst of Heart Disease Awareness Month, I have to take this opportunity to help you realize the value of owning your heart health in this moment, even if it feels uncomfortable.
To make changes in life, we must get comfortable with getting uncomfortable. Ask any Olympic athlete reaching for Gold, and they will tell you of the blood, sweat and tears they put into their endeavor.
Change requires effort. And if I can get you to focus in on how to improve your own cardiovascular health, we finally can own the solution for improving most health ailments plaguing us.
While this might seem a monumental task, I assure you that reducing your risk of heart disease through shifts in nutrition, fitness, preventative health screenings, surveillance and mitigation, we can actually take the opportunity to stave off all that ails us.
Now that I have your attention, let’s get real. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of humans worldwide. Given that our lifestyle choices, led by our food picks, are the reason for a global pandemic, I am bound and determined to encourage and support your ability to make change.
A healthy eating pattern doesn’t mean you have to cut your favorite foods. On the other hand, losing weight does require a calorie deficit, and in most cases, taking those less wholesome favorite foods away, at least for a period.
The willingness to be uncomfortable for a short period of time is doable, but the ability to do so for long periods, or dare I say even forever, is nearly impossible. And almost always, the desire to “lose weight” always trumps the desire to be healthy. Therein lies the problem.
Even though change is uncomfortable, I have decided to modify my approach with all of you in the hopes of influencing your conversion, because I care. While the messaging may sound similar, let’s go from “none to some.”
Losing weight and improving one’s health are not synonymous. You can lose weight, but end up malnourished, reducing muscle and bone mass in the process, causing you to lose energy and being incapable of your normal activities of daily living.
Improving your cardiovascular health and all that ails you simply requires “some” willpower with treats and splurges, rather than completely cutting out these foods.
Incorporating “some” foods that you clearly understand are part of a “healthy eating pattern, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, non/lowfat dairy products, lean proteins with smaller portions of these other foods, can really allow you to “have your cake and eat it, too.”
The fearmongering regarding foods containing gluten and dairy, as well as the push to consume only organic and non-GMO foods, along with the push for foods with unearned “health halos,” has to stop.
Our food supply is safe. If you choose to consume certain foods, that is your prerogative, but don’t let uneducated influencers bully you into believing such myths. Be honest with yourselves and see the harm that the food you eat containing “too much” salt, sugar, saturated fat, alcohol, and ultra-processed foods, are having in your life, and start there.
I want to encourage you to sign up for our complimentary weekly newsletter to be notified of our free monthly webinars that will provide ways for you to shift the trajectory of your health. These educational pieces, along with monthly cook-alongs, will provide the much-needed coaching to find your health in a joyful way.
Gina Cousineau, aka Mama G, is your local nutrition expert, chef, and fitness professional, with her BS in Nutrition and MS in functional and integrative nutrition. She uses a food-as-medicine approach for weight loss to health gain, and everything in between. Follow her on social media @mamagslifestyle, and check out her website mamagslifestyle.com to learn more about her programs and freebies offered throughout the year.