2014 is the year. It is the year to make the changes that are needed to bring your body to ideal cardiovascular health. It can’t wait another year because our city’s number one killer is heart disease.
Heart disease is often silent, hidden and misunderstood, so now is the time to declare a New Year’s resolution that will help you live a longer, stronger, more heart healthy life.
The New Year is the perfect time to reflect on the past 12 months and to identify the habits you want to keep and to change. Resolution are often set to be difficult to obtain and can quickly lose steam and momentum. But resolutions don’t have to feel and be hard to keep. Small changes are often more effective.
"The problem with the New Year’s resolution is that it has such a finality to it that people are set up to fail," said Dr. Gailen Marshall, professor of medicine and director of the Division of Allergy and Immunology, who specializes in the field of integrative medicine.
"Goals need to be better defined, limited and with the realization that failures don’t have to derail your plan. Don’t punish yourself when you fail. The people who are successful do that; they overcome failure with success.”
It takes 21 days to make a habit and only one day to break it, so start strong with your New Year’s resolution in order to create a lasting lifestyle change.
Here are 10 suggestions for a heart healthy New Year’s resolution:
Create realistic goals and strategies. Set a goal you know you can keep. If you are trying to eat more veggies, than don’t start by gorging. Pace yourself.
Keep it simple. If you aren’t used to eating something, try gradually adding it in your diet. Not a fan of greens? Try mixing a small amount into smoothies. Not sure you’ll like quinoa? Add a scoop to a salad to help get used to the taste and texture.
Drink more water. Drinking the right amount of water is a key ingredient in staying healthy.
Go green. Think kale chip, not tortilla chip. Stock your pantry with healthy fruits and veggies.
Eat seasonally. Good for your budget and your waistline. Eating seasonally means you are getting food at its peak performance and flavor level.
Cut out processed food. Say no to aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oil. Your body doesn’t need the chemicals, plus processed foods are all full of added salt.
Eat more fiber. Fiber is easy to add to your diet. Whole grains are filled with fiber, which makes digestion easier and helps you feel fuller longer.
Quit smoking. Smoking is one of the most preventable causes of premature death. But quitting you can decrease your risk of heart disease, help lower your blood pressure and lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Know your numbers. Make 2014 the year you know and monitor your blood pressure, cholesterol and weight and discuss those numbers with your doctor. Take an active role in your health.
Get moving. It is easy to be sedentary, especially if you work at a desk. Small steps can make a big difference. Wear a pedometer and aim for 10,000 steps a day or plan on 30 minutes of exercise each day.
Assess your current health with these measures so you can set a realistic New Year’s Resolution. Take the American Heart Association’s My Life Check, ashort assessment to easily identify where you fall on the health spectrum. Visit www.heart.org/MyLifeCheck to take this free simply survey. You’ll gain a better understanding on your healthy priorities, and be armed with additional tools that offer specific action steps to improve the measurements and track personal progress.