Author Archives: Katie Robles

Her Heart Sank Onto the Bed: Sleep and Heart Health

“You snooze, you lose!” When it comes to your heart—and your health in general—the phrase should be “You snooze small, you lose it all”. I know, I know, it’s not as catchy and much more cumbersome to yell in someone’s face when you grab the last cookie, but it is true: if you snooze small, you can lose it all.

There is a strong correlation between getting enough sleep and heart health. Studies show that sleeping less than six hours per night can cause high blood pressure, increased calcium deposits in the arteries, high blood glucose levels, increased C-reactive protein (an indicator of stress and/or inflammation), crankiness, and caffeine IVs, some of which can lead to heart disease. This correlation exists no matter what age you are; a teenager who doesn’t sleep enough will develop the same problems like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type two diabetes that we “experienced” people do. On the other hand, sleeping 7-8 hours per night prevents the risk for heart disease just as much as not smoking, eating right, and exercising. (Keep in mind that we’re talking about sleep habits here, not a short night every once in a while.)

heart sleep 1Most things in life require maintenance and HeartDOT’s system of oxygenated transportation is no different. When does HeartDOT plow and salt the roads after it snows? At night. When does HeartDOT do construction on busy highways? At night. When are HeartDOT’s rest stops cleaned and restocked? At night.

Your body has stuff it needs to do while you sleep; important stuff like cleaning and repairing itself. The lining of the blood vessels and heart is especially important, but regenerating that lining takes time and it happens best when the heart is relaxed during sleep.

Lack of sleep also interrupts biological processes like glucose metabolism and blood pressure. For example, blood pressure works on a feedback loop: sensors in your biggest arteries measure how much blood is flowing and how hard it’s pressing on the walls of the artery and tell the heart to pump harder or slow down. When your heartrate slows at night, this feedback loop resets itself with a baseline of what “normal” should be. If you don’t sleep long enough, the feedback loop measurements don’t drop as low and it resets itself at a “normal” that is higher than it should be. Over time that keeps your blood pressure higher all day. High blood pressure puts a strain on your heart like running an engine at full throttle all the time.

heart sleep 2It’s not just your heart that suffers from little or poor sleep. Short sleepers are more likely to be obese and suffer from type two diabetes as well. Those who are tired are less likely to exercise and less likely to make good food choices. (Duh! We’ve all been there; we don’t need science to tell us that.) When you are sleep deprived, you even produce more ghrelin, a hormone that makes you feel hungry.

What can you do to get more sleep? Give yourself a bedtime and stick to it. Sometimes you have to BYOM –Be Your Own Mom. 30-60 minutes before bedtime, start winding down by reading the dictionary, taking a bath, journaling, watching paint dry, and so forth. 10-20 minutes before bed, turn off your electronics. I repeat: TURN OFF the TV, the tablet, the phone, the computer. I know, I know, there are people out there who can’t fall asleep without the TV on, but they are the exception and I believe they can be retrained. I find that when I turn off my electronics, I go from feeling “awake” to exhausted in 0.05 seconds. It doesn’t matter how early or late it is. The same thing happens with my kids: they’re wide awake to watch a TV show before bed, but as soon as I turn off the brain-sucker, they’re so tired they can’t make it up the stairs without whining. (They take after their mother.)

If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, exercise has been shown to be nearly as effective as sleeping pills (and much, much safer). Over time, exercise helps lessen insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea symptoms. We’re talking about exercise any time of day, by the way, so the same exercise that strengthens your heart helps you sleep which strengthens your heart. It’s like the chicken and the egg thing if the chicken crosses the road and the egg sleeps and they share a heart.

Tired of hearing about how important sleep is? Good: go to bed.

 

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matthew 11:29

 

Come back when you’re rested and we’ll Take it to Heart: Eating for Heart Health!

 

References:

Web MD http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/how-sleep-affects-your-heart#1

Sleep Foundation https://sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/how-sleep-deprivation-affects-your-heart

Consequences of Sleep Deprivation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3403737/

Exercise and Sleep http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/29/health/exercise-sleep-tips/index.html

Put Your Heart into It: Exercise and Heart Health

Imagine that you’re a sailor on a sailboat. You and your four friends have been trained to sail, but you’re still new at it. The wind pushes you along peacefully for a while, but then a storm rises. It’s all hands on deck, working frantically against the wind and waves. You make it through that storm and a few more that follow and then one day you realize that you and your friends are stronger, faster, and better sailors than you were before that first storm. When the weather is good, it only takes three of you to man the boat where it once took all five.

heart sailors_0001Exercise is a storm for your heart. Exercise makes your heart work harder for a while which at first can feel like you’re being keelhauled*, but your heart is a fast learner. Before long it’s so used to the battening down the hatches that when your heart is at rest, it can take it easy. Studies show that the resting heart rate of people who exercise is lower than the resting heart rate of landlubbers*. A lubber’s heart (land or otherwise) is not being challenged, so it’s weaker and has to work harder to do less than an exercised heart. More storms makes for better sailors.

Storms have a way of cleaning the air because the extra wind and water (i.e. rain) remove the dust and particles. When you exercise, your blood moves faster which allows it to pulse into every tiny capillary at the tips of your fingers and toes. This allows the blood to bring more oxygen and nutrients to the cells and allows it to remove more junk from those cells. The strong blood flow also helps keep the arteries themselves clean, flexible, and inflammation free. It’s like a storm watering your garden and cleaning the air at the same time. Or sailors scrubbing the deck from jib to mizzenmast. Those are officially now my favorite sailing terms.

heart stormInactivity (keeping your ship docked, so to speak) is one of the major risk factors for heart disease. Exercise lowers your risk for heart disease by 45%. And that’s exercise at the recommended 2.5 hours of exercise every week level. Even if you’re a landlubber who spends most of her time in the brig and only halfheartedly hoists the mainsail, you’re still reducing your risk of heart disease by a LOT. Anchors aweigh! By the way, those recommended 2.5 hours can be 30 minutes per day five days per week, or 2.5 hours on a weekend, or 25 ten minute bouts of movement sprinkled throughout the week. A bit of climbing the rigging here, a bit of casting off there, maybe a bit of barnacle removal just for fun. Your heart gets stronger with every minute of exercise you do.

We can’t talk about sailing without adding pirates to the mix. Arr, Matey, did you know that your muscles are pirates? Well, they are when you exercise! Our bodies have strict rules about how oxygen is transported, how glucose is absorbed, and so on. When an exercise storm hits, pirates can break those rules. Under the strain of exercise, your pirate muscles are able to steal oxygen and glucose (i.e. energy) straight from the blood instead of waiting for a delivery. This is a very good thing. The heart has to deliver oxygen and glucose to the muscles anyway, so pirate muscles save it some work. I never said they were smart pirates; just that they steal.

heart-pirates.jpgHere are some heart-pumping exercise ideas to get you started:

Walking (to the mailbox, across the parking lot, around the block, etc), biking, running (after toddlers, not your mouth), jogging, vacuuming (under the beds counts double in my book), gardening, roller skating, swimming, jumping (like on a trampoline, not when you see a spider), playing tag (as in chase, not on social media), taking the stairs, jumping jacks (or jills or up the hills).

 

*Keelhauled: a truly awful punishment from sailing days that usually ended in death. Exercise can feel uncomfortable, but if it feels like you’re tied to a rope and being passed under the keel of a ship, maybe pick a different exercise.

*Landlubber: a lubber is old slang for a person who is lazy. Sailors added the land part to make fun of non-sailors. In modern terms we say “couch potato”.

 

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Matthew 22:37

 

Sail back next time for Her Heart Sank onto the Bed: Sleep and Heart Health

 

References:

Sailing terms – http://brethrencoast.com/Pirate_Glossary.html

Exercise and heart health – http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/specialtopic/physical-activity/exercise’s-effects-on-the-heart.html?print=1&mcubz=3

Exercise and heart health – http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/heart_vascular_institute/clinical_services/centers_excellence/womens_cardiovascular_health_center/patient_information/health_topics/exercise_heart.html

Do You Have a Good Heart?

Kind hearted, his heart went out to her, from the bottom of my heart, have her heart set on it, let’s have a heart to heart. So many of our expressions demonstrate what humans have known for thousands of years: the heart (and the blood it pumps) is the literal and figurative center of our physical being. If a heart stops, a life stops. We’re going to take the next few weeks to learn about the heart and how best to care for it. Turns out it’s not that hard; easier than taking care of a guppy. I mean puppy. Guppies are way easier.

Label Circulatory System Picture Of A Circulatory System With Labels Human Body DiagramYour heart contracts (or pumps) rhythmically every second of every day of every year of your life. The force of the contraction (labor flashback! Anybody else grimace when they read that phrase?) pushes the blood through the arteries beginning with the big ones near the heart and ending with the teeny tiny itsy bitsy yellow polka dot bikini capillaries in your toes, organs, eyeballs, and everywhere in between.

Blood is the transportation system of the body; it is every highway, byway, back road and railroad put together. Wait, blood is liquid. Let’s make it all rivers creeks and wetlands and tributaries. Imagine if the whole world was like Venice, Italy. Don’t worry, my imaginary Venice is full of pasta and gelato too. It may be best to think of the heart as HeartDOT (Department of Transportation).

Map2_VeniceOnLineHeartDOT makes sure that traffic keeps moving. Blood delivers oxygen, nutrients, medical personnel (white blood cells), hormones, repair crews, and a host of other goods and services to the body. It also transports the body’s junk (dead viruses, bacteria, toxins, etc) to the Kidney Export Service for permanent removal from the body. HeartDOT doesn’t make the goods or the trash, it just keeps the flow moving.

Imagine for a moment that the entire world’s shipping and transportation shuts down. No boats, planes, rafts, not even people swimming from place to place. Each person is stuck at home. Within a few weeks, food runs out and people starve. Medical emergencies end in tragedy. Nothing new can be built. Trash piles up. Human life ends. In the grand scheme of our Earth-wide analogy, death takes weeks or months. Since the average heart beats 60-100 times per minute, blood transportation works much faster than our Venice Earth analogy and death takes mere minutes, not months.

river trafficNow imagine that transportation around Venice is not shut down, but travel has slowed. Storms have washed silt into the waterways, making them narrower. A tanker sank in the lagoon and traffic bottlenecks as vessels go around it. Priority is given to those carrying food and oxygen, but repair crews are delayed and trash removal is minimal.

A heart can fake it until it makes it for years, but the longer it has to struggle to pump, the more likely it is that it will stop working altogether (heart attack) or that blood flow to major organs will be interrupted (stroke). The good news is that if you read my blog regularly, you already know how to take care of your heart! The same healthy habits that help you lose weight also help your heart stay healthy…and help prevent type 2 diabetes and stroke, keep you looking younger…It’s a win-win-win-win-win.

Tune in next time for Put Your Heart Into It: Exercise and Heart Health!

 

Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” Matthew 9:2

 

Venice map (Venice Online), circulatory system (humananatomylibrary.com), river traffic (http://www.neatorama.com/2006/09/16/traffic-on-river-thames/)

Feels a lot Like Last Thursday

037newWelcome to the New Year! Today feels a lot like last Thursday (except there’s less wrapping paper strewn about the house). The new year is a good time to make changes, but sometimes it just feels like any other day. Whether you’re ready for resolutions or still recovering from the holidays, today is a great day to take care of your body.

In 2020 this blog will be focusing on the health benefits of successful weight loss habits (sleep, exercise, consuming water and vegetables, and portion control). The more I learned about why those healthy habits help us lose weight, the more I learned about how those healthy habits help protect us from heart disease, diabetes type 2, and cancer. There are no guarantees when it comes to health (especially cancer) but giving your body what it needs is a good way to start.

For today, just do one healthy thing for your body, even if it’s taking a moment to relax and be grateful for the parts of you that work well. Or drink a glass of water. Or take a walk. Whatever you want, it’s your Thursday!

“A blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you.” Deuteronomy 23:5b

*I will be posting every other week instead of every week. 🙂

I WILL Act Like a Child (A Holiday Manifesto)

img_4132This holiday season, I vow to act like a child.

I will not sit still. I will get up or get out and move every day. I will skip to the mailbox, I will dance in the kitchen, I will walk around the block, I will jump up and down in anticipation. I will do it because it makes me feel good, not because I have to.

I will be a picky eater. If I don’t love it, I won’t finish it. I will not waste stomach capacity on mediocre food. The only exception is if the cook is watching me. If the cook is watching, I will make an interesting comment to draw attention to my eating their dish—“Mmm, is that nutmeg in these mashed potatoes?”—and then push the remaining food to the edges of my plate and cover it with a napkin. If I love a food I will savor it, licking my fingers (discreetly) and ignoring the world around me until it’s gone.

I will ask “why?” I will listen to the Christmas story at church and to carols on the radio and I will ask “Why? Why? Why?” until the only answers left are “Because God loves us so much, he came down and saved us himself” and “I don’t know, He just does.”

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

Ebook Stocking Stuffer

This season, consider gifting an e-book that entertains and increases healthy habits. At only $5.99 with full color photographs of each recipe, you can stuff someone’s stocking or treat yourself.

Click on the links for Sex Soup and Two Fisted Eating: Hilarious Weight Loss for Wives and More Sex Soup and Two Fisted Eating: a Second Helping of Hilarious Weight Loss for Wives .

Ginger Bread With Broccoli (Shhh, don’t tell my kids)

What says “Merry Christmas” and “Eat your vegetables” at the same time? Broccoli Ginger Bread! This recipe comes from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook. The beauty of molasses and ginger is that you neither see nor taste the broccoli and carrot purees this recipe calls for. Even my picky eater eats it. Doesn’t get much better than that! (I’ve paraphrased the recipe instructions a bit because I’m too lazy to type every word.)

 

2014 Dec 021Gingerbread Spice Cake

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp EACH baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon

1/4 tsp EACH ground cloves, allspice, salt

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 egg

1 cup broccoli puree (I thawed frozen broccoli and stuck it in the food processor with the oil)

1 cup carrot puree (Steam or boil carrots, puree in food processor or blender. Or use applesauce if you’re pressed for time)

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup molasses

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tb grated orange zest

 

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9×5 loaf pan.

2. Mix the flours and spices in a bowl, set aside.

3. Mix the sugar, oil, egg until smooth. Add the veggies, yogurt, molasses, vanilla and zest and mix again. Add flour mixture and mix until smooth.

4. Bake 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes, turn out onto a rack and cool completely. Or slice it steaming hot and blow on it to cool it between bites like I do. 🙂

Laughter Sale: Black Friday Deal

Click here to get my hilarious weight loss book for the discounted price of $10 now through Tuesday December 3, 2019.

Getting healthy can be fun. (Not as fun as Christmas shopping, but close!)

Laugh until you love your body
Are you ready to lose weight and get healthy, but you hate celery sticks and sweat? This book is for you. Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating is:
*Fun: laugh-a-minute encouragement complete with cartoons, poetry, and enough cheesy puns to make you lactose intolerant.
*Sustainable: for long term results, look no further because the healthy habits you develop will help you stay fit until you die. (See how encouraging this is?)
*Flexible: easily adaptable to fit your needs and preferences like a need for chocolate and a preference to avoid spandex, for example.
*Educational: the science supporting healthy habits is explained in a memorable way, like how REM sleep is like a toilet.

 

 

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