The Journey to a Healthy Heart
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States.
According to the CDC, one person in the U.S. dies from cardiovascular disease every 36 seconds.
The good news is that approximately 80% of cardiovascular disease can be prevented (and even reversed) with a healthy diet and exercise.
Changing your diet and implementing a new workout plan isn’t always easy. But if you have people (like us) there to guide you and hold you accountable, it is a whole lot easier. Trust us on that one.
If you follow our lead and stick with this program, we will help you:
- Improve your cholesterol
- Lower your blood pressure
- Manage your stress
- And most importantly…reduce your risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.
The StrongPath Heart exercises tend to be higher intensity, focused on improving cardiovascular efficiency, circulation and endurance, and lowering blood pressure.
The frequency will depend on your fitness level, but you can expect at least three days of aerobic training, mixed with rest and strength training, depending on what your goal is.
The weight training is primarily circuit-based, which means that you will alternate between several exercises, each of which targets a different part of your body.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few exercises that we recommend:
The StrongPath Heart diet is mostly plant-based with foods that are rich in phytochemicals (plant-based chemicals that lower inflammation, fight free radicals, and lower blood pressure).
It is centered around fresh, unprocessed, nutrient-rich foods and healthy fats.
Finding healthy meals that promote cardiovascular health, keep you feeling full, and taste good can feel like an impossible task.
That is where StrongPlate*, powered by Fresh Meal Plan, comes in. When you sign up for StrongPlate, you will get freshly made; heart-healthy meals delivered straight to your doorstep—so you never have to wonder what to eat again. We will even give you a 10% discount (although we cannot promise that offer will stay around forever, so sign up before it is gone!).
So how does it work?
First, you select the menu plan that’s best suited for your needs (we recommend vegan for StrongPath Heart members).
You also get to choose the meals within each menu (which change every week, so you will never get bored).
And if you are on our Silver or Gold plan, it gets even better: We will give you path-specific meal recommendations from Fresh Meal Plan.
*StrongPlate is coming soon! Stay tuned for more.
If you prefer to plan your own meals, you might find our Functional Food list helpful. These foods will help improve cholesterol levels and promote cardiovascular health:
Taken in combination with a healthy, well-balanced diet and exercise, supplements can improve your health and help you on your StrongPath Heart journey.
So what supplements should you take?
We made that part easy for you. We created a potent, one-of-a-kind StrongPath Heart supplement, which combines the very best ingredients for StrongPath Heart members. So rather than have to buy and take each supplement individually, you get everything you need in one.
Proper rest and recovery are vital while you are on the journey to a healthy heart.
Because exercise depletes your energy stores, damages muscle tissues (so micro-tears develop), and causes fluids to be lost. If you do not give your body time to heal, those muscle tears grow, and your muscles feel inflamed and overworked.
The result? Lower performance, a weaker immune system, lethargy, and chronic joint pain.
Here is the other thing: Your muscles do not grow while you’re exercising. They grow while you are resting.
For that reason, you should aim to target different muscle groups on different days of the week, so your muscles have ample time to rest.
On top of that, you should carve out a few rest days each week (in between intense workouts).
Rest days, which are when you do not exercise at all (or keep your heart rate down), help those damaged tissues to heal, your cortisol levels to decrease, and your carbohydrate stores to be replenished. Thus, you feel stronger, more energized, and ready to conquer that next workout.
Get active on your rest days
Active recovery is when you do light exercise immediately after an intense workout or during the days that follow (like during your “rest days”). The idea is not to build strength but to get the blood flowing to your muscles, which will enhance and speed up the recovery process.
Active recovery helps boost muscle protein synthesis, also known as MPS, the process in which protein is produced, helping to repair muscle damage and increase muscle size.
Active recovery also helps to remove chemicals that build up from cell activity during exercise.
What types of exercises are ideal for active recovery?
Anything that gets you moving (so long as it doesn’t cause your muscles to get sore)! Think biking, swimming, light yoga, walking your dog…
You could also do dynamic stretching, including exercises like butt kicks, walking lunges, shoulder circles, arm circles, and shin taps.
You may also try foam rolling, a type of self-massage that helps relieve muscle soreness and release tension in your muscles.
Eat within two hours post-workout
Eating after a workout is important because it helps to rebuild and repair your muscles. So even if you are not hungry, you should still eat something. Try to eat within 50 minutes of finishing your workout (and do not wait more than two hours).
What should you eat after a workout?
Stick to whole foods, rich in fiber. And eat a full meal if you can. If that is not doable, then have a shake or bar. Just make sure that whatever you eat includes carbs and protein.
Why? Because as you exercise, your body burns a lot of carbs (the primary fuel for your muscles). In the 20-60 minutes after your workout, your muscles can store carbs and protein as energy, which aids in recovery. Meanwhile, protein helps repair and grow your muscles.
Chronic stress increases the level of cortisol in your body, which increases blood pressure, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood cholesterol.
You are also less likely to make healthy decisions when you’re stressed. You mind find that you sleep poorly, eat lots of junk food, and skip your workouts.
It may be unrealistic to eliminate stress from your life, but there are ways to deal with it better.
Take a look at ten stress-relieving techniques that our team recommends whenever you are feeling even just the slightest bit stressed.
We spend about half of our waking hours lost in an imaginary state—worrying about the future and dwelling on the past.
The goal of meditation is to reduce mind-wandering. With meditation, you use a technique to gain awareness, reduce stress, and achieve mental stability and happiness.
For example, mindfulness meditation is where you train yourself to focus on the present moment, like how you feel, what you are thinking, and what is happening around you.
Meditation takes practice (and you will probably notice your mind wandering a lot when you first start meditating!). The key is consistency: Practice every day. Your mind is like a muscle, and the more you train it (or practice), the better at mediation you will become..
Also, it can be helpful to listen to guided meditations in the beginning, like this one:
If you do it consistently, meditation can give you more control over your actions and help you better understand the stressors in your life and how you can relieve them.
Similar to meditation, guided imagery is when you take your mind on a little vacation. You might imagine, for instance, being in your happy place. Like sitting on a white-sand beach, listening to nothing but the sound of the turquoise blue waves and feeling the warm sun beat down on you.
You can either listen to a recording, where somebody guides you, or you can just close your eyes and start imagining your happy place. Try to feel as if you are really there, and think about all of the sensory experiences that you would partake in.
There are a variety of breathing techniques that can also help you to destress. For example, inhale slowly through your nose, hold for one second and then exhale slowly. Then repeat ten times.
You will be surprised at the difference this can make.
Edmund Jacobson developed this technique in the 1930s. It is based on the idea that when the body relaxes, so does the mind.
Progressive muscle relaxation is when you contract one muscle group on your body for five to 10 seconds while simultaneously breathing in, and then relax those muscles as you breathe out.
When practicing, be sure to tighten one muscle group at a time. For example, start with your toes, and then work your way up to your face. Leave 10 to 20 seconds of relaxation time in between each muscle group. When releasing the tension in your muscles, try to focus on how you feel.
It is simple but does work. This technique has been shown to reduce insomnia, chronic pain, and anxiety.
Certain scents can alter activity in the brain and reduce stress hormones (cortisol).
Lavender, for example, is known for its stress-relieving, sleep-inducing properties, helping to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature.
Numerous studies have shown how walking can relieve anxiety and stress, lower your heart rate, improve mental clarity, and boost your mood.
Aim for at least a 30-minute walk per day if you can (in addition to your workout). Even just a short five-minute walk around the block can help you destress if you do not have much time.
Yoga combines physical activity, meditation, and breathing techniques to provide immediate stress relief.
The good news is that you don’t have to attend a yoga class in person to practice; check out our selection of free yoga exercises that you can do whenever the mood strikes!
A good support network can go a long way. Make sure to surround yourself with positive people who help you feel better about yourself.
If you are feeling stressed about your health, fitness level, or reaching your ideal weight, then join the StrongPath Heart community! There, you will be able to chat with and get support from other StrongPath members going through the same thing as you.
Turn “I don’t know if I can do this” into “I can do this!” Instead of saying (or thinking), “This is going to be impossible,” tell yourself, “I will take this one step at a time.”
Show yourself the compassion that you would show a good friend. Turn any negative thinking into positive self-talk. And speak aloud, so you really hear yourself!
When you start thinking (and talking) positively, the world around you completely changes. And there is no limit to what you can accomplish.
You did not think we would leave this out, did you?
Exercise is crucial not only for your physical health but for your mental health as well.
The good news is that with StrongPath, we make it easy for you to fit a workout in. Whether you have five minutes to work out or two hours, we have an exercise for you. Check out the thousands of activities we offer on the StrongPath app to find the ones that best suit you.
Take a look at our selection of products that will help you make the most out of StrongPath Heart while you are on the go.
Soon, you’ll be able to join the StrongPath Heart community, where you can connect with other members, pose questions, and get the motivation you need to keep going.
Stay tuned for more!