A Valentine For You

Valentine's Day. What does it mean to you? Flowers? Funny cards? Dinner and a movie? Jewelry? Ahhh, that's what I thought. Candy. The universal "I LOVE YOU," or even "I KIND OF LIKE YOU," gift if you aren't sure what your relationship really is. I mean, who can argue with a box of chocolates or conversation hearts? And, you can always buy your own if you don't have a Valentine to give you one, right?

My question: What do YOU want out of Valentine's Day?

When I was a kid in elementary school, I wanted to get as many paper Valentine cards as possible in my pink and white decorated shoe box with the slit on top. I loved all the frosted cookies and cupcakes we got to decorate and eat, licking frosting all the way.

At one point in my life, I had the capacity to suck down a nice big bag of red and white colored peanut M&M's to celebrate the occasion. The trouble was, I'd have the M&M fix daily, and hide the evidence. Not too cool. What I got for Valentine's day back then was more body fat. The gift that keeps on giving...

Now, I want better health, more love, and fewer calories for Valentine's Day!

Let's plan for a healthy heart on heart day this year:
  • Eat regular, small healthy meals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar level steady. Don't skip meals! This is so important when the festive treats abound and temptation reaches its peak. The hungrier you are, the less control you have.
  • If you have trouble controlling certain sweets, give your Valentine clear instructions to avoid giving you your trigger food and drop the hint of how much you'd love flowers or a movie. My husband is great at remembering roses now after I asked him many years ago to nix the big box of chocolates. Now, he'll occasionally give me one or two truffles--perfect to enjoy and not abuse!
  • Get some exercise this week to relieve some of your stress and keep your heart happy.
  • Stay in control at the restaurant. Think. You are there for the wonderful company, conversation, and fun--not to stuff your face silly and give your stomach and arteries major stress. Choose lean entrees, exercise portion control, eat slowly, and try to remember to fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. If you have dessert, share it! It's much more romantic that way. You'll feel much better afterward, too.
  • If you are feeling sad or lonely this Valentine's day, please remember that no amount of candy will help. Instead, call a friend, watch a movie, read, or go on Facebook or other online chat site. Take care of the emotion that you need to attend to instead of masking it with chocolate. Your heart will thank you.
  • Think dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is much richer in those wonderful antioxidants that protect cells from damage that may cause heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
This Valentine's Day, give yourself the gift of loving yourself enough to take care of your heart!