Most of us know the basics of post-heart attack health guidelines: Limit your red meat, keep your stress levels low, and make sure you're getting at least a little physical activity every day. But what do you do when you're already super healthy, like "The Biggest Loser" trainer Bob Harper?
You probably heard the 51-year-old suffered a massive heart attack in a New York City gym this February — scary stuff. The upside, though, is that Harper has been documenting his whole road to recovery on Instagram. And through his openness, the trainer is showing us what even the healthiest of people can do to improve their heart health after surviving an attack.
1. He's taking it easy alongside his dog, Karl.
Shortly after his heart attack, Harper followed doctors' orders and spent a lot of time resting and recuperating, typically with his dog, Karl, by his side. Smart thinking: In a March 2013 statement, the American Heart Association reported that having a pet can actually lower your risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduce stress. His cuteness is just a bonus!
2. He's keeping a close eye on his heart's every beat.
Shortly after being released from the hospital, Harper posted a shirtless selfie, showing off a collection of heart monitors attached to his chest. Why? The monitors help his doctors track his heart activity, which they then use to learn more about what caused Harper's heart attack and help prevent another one.
3. He's reading up on all things heart health.
Turns out, even someone who has written his own books about health can still learn something from other reads. On March 6, Harper posted a snap of Karl and a book called "Heart 411: The Only Guide to Heart Health You'll Ever Need" — his light "afternoon reading."
4. He's testing out the Mediterranean diet.
In an effort to boost Harper's health, doctors recommended he try the Mediterranean diet, which means a focus on heart-healthy foods such as fish, fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and olive oil. Good call, docs: Past research has linked this diet to a lower risk for heart disease, strokes, and heart attacks.
5. He's slowly easing his way back into exercise.
Harper isn't known for taking it easy at the gym. But doctors' orders are to take things slow, and it looks like Harper is putting his ego aside in favor of the good advice. A few weeks back, he shared a video of himself performing a stress test on a treadmill. "Talk about starting back at SQUARE ONE," he wrote in the caption. "I plan on being the BEST STUDENT."
6. He's spending time with the people he loves.
Throughout his recovery thus far, Harper has continuously thanked his friends, family, and fans for providing him with such a strong support system.
7. He's experimenting with veganism.
Harper was a vegan for three years starting in 2010, but it seems his health scare has him picking up old habits. A few weeks ago, the trainer visited Blossom, a vegan restaurant in New York City, where he dug into a meatless dish full of veggies, black beans, rice, and grilled tofu. Smart thinking, Harper: A September 2014 study suggests that a plant-based diet might help combat heart disease.
8. He's undergoing cardiac rehabilitation.
On March 15, Harper posted a video of his first cardiac rehab workout, which included 15 minutes on a bike, 15 minutes on a treadmill, and 15 minutes on a stationary bike. "I felt good and the doctors were happy with all of my readings," he wrote in the caption. "It just felt good to get a little bit of a sweat."
9. He's being cautious as he adds caffeine back into his diet.
When you have a health scare, it makes the small joys even more delightful. We can definitely relate with Harper's: "Being able to have a cup of coffee again makes me very happy," he wrote in a post on March 22. "I get 1-2 cups a day and I relish every bit of it."
10. He's finding new ways to get involved with CrossFit.
Harper might not be ready to jump back into his intense CrossFit routine just yet, but he's still finding ways to stay involved in the community. While we're sure he was bummed to not compete, Harper was still able to judge the 2017 CrossFit Open this year.
11. He's exploring new heart-healthy foods.
The ultra-healthy Mediterranean Diet is great, but everyone needs a little treat sometimes. Harper's, though, really needs to be friendly to his heart still. His latest obsession? Sumo Citrus. Not only is the tangerine-orange hybrid tasty, but a March 2011 study found a link between eating citrus and reduced risk of heart disease.
12. He's trying out yoga classes.
Since Harper's doctors cleared him to start practicing yoga earlier this week, the trainer has already posted about attending two separate classes. And it's a good thing for his heart health, too: A preliminary March 2016 study found that practicing yoga (and taking it slow) led to lower heart rates and blood pressure in people living with heart disease.