Why I wear red: To remind us of what we need to know to keep our hearts healthy

I wear red to be an example to two important women in my life: my mother, Margaret, and my daughter, Maggie.

In honor of American Heart Month, Paula Beickman shares why she wears red to raise awareness each February: Because knowledge is power, and it can save a life.    

For the past 25 years, I have worked at Norton Heart Specialists. It’s my career, yes, but it is so much more. It has become part of me and the fabric of who I am. Why do I wear red? It is simple. I wear red to be an example to two important women in my life: my mother, Margaret, and my daughter, Maggie.

Every year, I am fortunate enough to take part in the Go Red for Women Luncheon.  I am reminded how fast life can change once you have been hit with heart disease. One out of three women dies of heart disease. I know that could be any one of the three of us.

I always share the luncheon stories with my mother and daughter to make them aware of the seriousness of heart disease. I want them both to know what I see and hear at work every day. I want them to be a part of a movement to be healthier than the women in the past.

My profession gives me an incredible opportunity to witness the wonderful care, the hope and the understanding we give to women with heart disease. It also provides me a daily gift of knowledge and a reminder of the importance of living a heart-healthy life. As a mother, I want to pass this gift on by teaching daily healthy habits on to my daughter. As a daughter, I strive to support and educate my mother to continue a lifestyle that supports her heart as she ages gracefully.

I know from what I see daily in my profession: While knowledge is power, it’s only useful if you apply it. The biggest gift I can give to those I love and to myself is to lead by example and take what I have learned to give me a stronger, healthier heart.

Being healthy and doing all the right things are not easy. They are a choice and a battle I fight daily. As part of my journey I have doubled down on my healthy lifestyle in 2018 and am taking part in the Norton Medical Weight Management Program to learn how to be healthy. Learning how to shop, how to read labels, how to make a healthy diet a new lifestyle and not just a temporary choice, and how to incorporate exercise into a busy working mother lifestyle. I have had to learn it all.  But I am dedicated for myself, my heart and for my family.

I know making the effort, learning new skills and helping those I love learn to live a heart-healthy lifestyle is something I will never look back on with regret. And this is why I wear red.

What does a heart-healthy lifestyle look like?

  • Maintain a balanced diet: Include plenty of high-fiber foods, limit eating foods high in saturated fats and cholesterol, restrict sodium (salt) intake and consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids to support a healthy heart.
  • Take part in regular physical activity: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week.
  • Know your numbers: Know your blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar and body mass index (BMI) numbers, and talk to your health care provider about them.
  •  Do not smoke, or quit smoking today.

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