Two-time stroke survivor Tamika Quinn had to change her entire lifestyle to lose the excess weight that hung on following the birth of her third child, focusing on heart-healthy foods and keeping portion size in check.
Quinn, who lives in Chesapeake, Virginia, is getting some extra motivation these days thanks to Go Red Get Fit, a Facebook Group-based social media campaign by the American Heart Association designed to help women from diverse communities make health changes that become lifelong habits.
The yearlong campaign, nationally sponsored by Macy’s, launched in March, challenging women to log at least 10,000 steps a day and limit added sugar to 24 grams a day. In June, participants were encouraged to add 30 minutes of cardio each day, at least five days a week, and choose water over sugary drinks 100 percent of the time.
Starting in September, participants will be challenged to build on previous health goals by getting more control over their sodium consumption. Their goal: eat no more than 1,500 milligrams a day.
On average, women age 20 and older in the U.S. consume 3,000 milligrams of sodium per day, twice as much as the upper limit recommended by the AHA for ideal heart health. Those figures are even higher for women in African-American, Asian and Hispanic communities.
Reducing the amount of salt in your diet is important to heart health because strong evidence has linked too much sodium to elevated blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart attacks, stroke, and kidney disease.
Quinn, 41, has already seen results from her efforts, shedding 6 pounds during the first quarter.
“I’m happy about that, I take pictures of my scale and post my results,” she said.
Quinn was 27 when she had two strokes. Although she came from a family with a history of high blood pressure, doctors advised her that the high blood pressure that appeared during her pregnancy would go away after her daughter was born. It didn’t.
Ten days later, Quinn went to the ER with a terrible headache and was diagnosed with a hemorrhagic stroke, or a stroke that occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain. A second one followed a few days later and Quinn spent the next few months recovering her ability to walk and speak. She continues to deal with long- and short-term memory loss and muscle control.