Love Your Heart


Because of the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, we might spend time this month thinking about those we love and how to show our care for them. But in order to give our hearts to our loved ones, we must remember to love our own hearts first.

TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds SensiblySM), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.®” philosophy, joins the nation in celebrating American Heart Month this February. Established by former President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964, American Heart Month encourages people to adopt healthy lifestyles to prevent heart disease.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. One method to avoid a deteriorating heart is to maintain a healthy weight.

Obesity increases the risk of heart disease by 28 percent, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Research. TOPS and its members know that shedding pounds does not happen overnight. Maintaining a healthy weight means making lifestyle changes that last far beyond this month.

These are the most important areas to focus on to reduce the risk of heart issues:


Get on your feet! Those who remain inactive are twice as likely to develop heart disease than those who follow the recommended activity guidelines.

While two and half hours, or 150 minutes, is suggested per week, any physical fitness effort is better than staying idle. You do not have to work out for 150 minutes at one time to meet the recommendation. Try doing 10 minutes of exercise three times a day, or 30-minute workouts five days a week. That sounds more do-able.

It may be easy for some to incorporate activity into their day-to-day by taking easy steps. If you find yourself sitting at a desk during your workday, raise your legs from the floor for 10 seconds and rest or squat before you sit down. While you’re watching TV at night, lift some light weights. When you’re running errands, park farther away from the store and walk the extra distance. Check out your local gym and inquire about fitness classes. 

Healthy Eating

If you’re not sure where to begin when it comes to eating better, take a page from TOPS and refer to MyPlate at MyPlate is a visual reminder to make smart choices and exercise portion control from each of the five food groups—fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy.

Remember to get your fair share of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Your protein should include lean meats, like fish, skinless chicken, or skinless turkey. Look for the labels “fat-free” or ‘low-fat” on your dairy products. Limit your sugar, sweetener, saturated fat, and sodium intake.

When eating out, consider splitting a meal with a partner or ask for a salad or fruit instead of fries.

Stress Control

You may not even realize it, but stress has a lot to do with your weight. When we are anxious, it’s easier for us to overeat or overdrink, which sets us back when trying to lose weight in a healthy manner.

Eating right and physical activity help keep our stress levels manageable, but it’s okay to pause, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Think about three things you are grateful for or find an inspiring quote or song and write it down so you can look back on it.

Support from Others

Engaging in regular physical fitness, eating healthier foods, and lowering your stress are successful when you have the support of friends and family. Taking a walk or a fitness class with a friend helps keep you accountable. Eating healthy foods is easier when those around you eat well. Stress is much more manageable when you have someone listening.

If you’re looking for a local support system, find a TOPS chapter in your area and attend a meeting — you’ll meet others who will give you support and encouragement to help you love your heart.

About TOPS®

TOPS Club Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) is the original weight-loss support and wellness education organization. Founded in 1948, TOPS is the only nonprofit, noncommercial weight-loss organization of its kind. TOPS promotes successful weight management with a “Real People. Real Weight Loss.®” philosophy that combines support from others at weekly chapter meetings, healthy eating, regular exercise, and wellness information.

Today there are about 65,000 members, including men, women, and international members who join chapter meetings in-person or online, with thousands of chapters in all 50 states and across Canada. Online resources include, news and information from the health and inspirational community, meal planning ideas, workouts, chapter resources, and more.

Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. Membership is affordable, starting at $49 per year in the U.S. and $59 annually in Canada, plus nominal chapter fees. Join TOPS, visit, or call 800-932-8677 to learn more about TOPS and to find a local chapter.