I've partnered with the American Heart Association to promote healthy and active lifestyle choices among African American women. 


I've partnered with the American Heart Association to promote healthy and active lifestyle choices among African American women. 

The stats don’t lie! Each year, 1 in 3 women die of heart disease and stroke. It's the number one killer in women and unfortunately stroke disproportionately affects African-Americans.
If you're like me (a member of the forever fearless Generation X or Y crowd) you may feel impenetrable to the possibility of being at risk for heart disease, but after doing a little research, the stats really knocked me down a peg. 

Here are a few unsettling stats:
·         Cardiovascular diseases kill nearly 50,000 African-American women annually.
·         Of African-American women ages 20 and older, 49 percent have heart diseases.
·        Only 52 percent of African-American women are aware of the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.
·         Only 36 percent of African-American women know that heart disease is their greatest health risk.

On the upside, 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with a few pretty simple lifestyle changes.  I'm participating in the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women campaign, which is their national movement to end heart disease (and stroke) in women.
Go Red For Women has an engaging new initiative to keep healthy living interesting and fresh, and Macy's is joining the cause to cheer participants on and keep them motivated with exciting prizes, like the chance to win a $1,000, $500, or $250 Macy's gift card!

So here are a few steps that I've taken to  #GoRedGetFit  and live a healthy lifestyle and reduce my chances of heart disease or stroke. 

First up, I joined the  #GoRedGetFit Facebook group. 
#GoRedGetFit is a quarterly health and fitness challenge that combines nationally known and influential celebrity fitness trainers with the power, influence and encouragement of real women like YOU! Each challenge lasts for twelve weeks, in an effort to turn a behavior into a habit. Group members also get free access to two celebrity fitness trainers: Scott Parker and Lisa Morales.  

The first challenge that I participated in was the step challenge. The group Admins challenged everyone to get in 10,000 steps per day as part of living a more active lifestyle. I lucked up on a second hand Fitbit Charge that my co-worker no longer used since she upgraded to the Apple Watch. I set a daily goal of 10,000 steps and it cheers me on and notifies me when I reach it. I also use it to track my daily water intake, calories burned and exercise goals.

*Update: I'm getting a new Fitbit Charge 2 as an early birthday gift! It arrives the day after tomorrow. Yayyyyyy!

Everyone in the group posts small accomplishments, personal goals,pre and post workout pics, encouraging memes, photos of their latest healthy meal creation and basically serves as your personal little cheering section to give you positive reinforcement throughout the day. Group members are randomly selected to win prizes from Go Red For Women and Macy's. The grand prize is a trip to the 2018 Red Dress Collection in New York City next February. 

Next, I decided to tackle my eating habits. The main culprit for heart disease and high blood pressure is sodium and since my mom and grandmother both suffer from hypertension I know how important it is to fight the urge to pick up that salt shaker.

I decided to check out Nourishing USA, a community food program created by Nutritionist  Gina Keatley. The site offers several simple ways to cut down on sodium and still retain flavor.
1.  Fresh is best
Instead of grabbing a granola bar as you run out the door, reach for a bag of baby carrots or a piece of fruit. Processed foods, says Keatley, contain dangerously high amounts of sodium and should be avoided when possible.
2. Spice it up
Head to your neighborhood market and grab a few canisters of spices for your next meal as substitutes for salt. Not sure which spices to choose? “Just experiment,” says Keatley, who favors chili powder. “That is the fun thing about learning to change your diet. Think of it as a culinary adventure.”
3. Buy a grinder
If you truly cannot live without sodium in your diet, try buying sea salt and a grinder and place both on your dinner table. Then, cook meals without sodium and wait until you sit down to add a dash or two.

In addition, for the past few months, I've been making a real effort to go grocery shopping every other week. This may not seem like much, but trust me it's made a huge difference in my eating habits and my wallet! Because I live in a neighborhood that is heavily populated by restaurants and bars, the temptation for eating out is always looming. Not only that, but between working my 9-5, filming Youtube videos, shooting Instagram photos and traveling regularly grabbing some take out is usually the simplest option for me. 

A few months ago, while checking my bank statement I realized that I had shelled out $500 on a month's worth of take out and gained several unwanted pounds. That's when I started meal prepping and planning. Being a busy girl, I don't really have the time or desire to slave away all day inside of a hot kitchen. I decided to put my handy dandy slow cooker to use. I picked it up for $20 during a Black Friday sale and I've definitely gotten great use out of it. I start by making searching Pinterest for "easy healthy slow cooker recipes"...that's literally what I search, lol, then I repin the best ones. I add the ingredients to my shopping list and buy enough supplies for 6 meals per dish (3 lunches and 3 dinners.) I usually get my slow cooker going on Sunday mornings and my dish is done by late afternoon. I portion out 6 meals into plastic storage containers and I'm all set right through Tuesday night. On Tuesday night I set my next meal up to cook and that takes care of Wednesday-Friday. So I don't completely deprive myself, Saturday is my cheat day. Every day I pack a lunch with whatever meal I’ve prepared, along with two healthy snacks and a bottle of fruit infused water. Brown bagging it also helps me to monitor my portions and prevent me from binge eating throughout the workday.

Lastly, we've got to get up off of our back sides and get moving!! I've recently taken a few steps to live a more active lifestyle without torturing myself in the process. 

1. Take the stairs whenever possible. I live in a third floor walk up so I hit the stairs a few times a day leaving in and out of my apartment, but I've also been opting to take the stairs at work and while out running errands (if my destination is less than five flights up.)

2. I have a dog… Correction, I have a super active little fur baby who’s literally a non-stop ball of energy. So I take advantage of that by walking him twice a day. I walk him. We average about 45 minutes of walking time per day. Usually a quick 10-15 minute walk before work and a nice leisurely stroll once I get home. It’s a great way to burn some cardio.

3. Since the weather is nicer I've decided to put my trusty bicycle to good use. It’s much easier on my knees than jogging and it allows me to explore previously uncharted parts of my neighborhood...and beyond. Over the past few weeks, I've set a weekly goal of three bike rides per week. One of which is a commute to and from my office which is about 4 miles away. To make it more fun, I use the Strava app to log my rides and connect with my friends who are either cycling, walking or running. We cheer each other on and send encouraging little way to go messages. 

If you'd like to join me on my journey to live a more active healthy lifestyle, start by joining the #GoRedGetFit Facebook group and hit me up on Twitter (@PrettyPRChick) and share your progress and don't forget to use the #GoRedGetFit hashtag!

FTC Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. 

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