By Tru-Kechia Smith, American Heart Association and Julia Rodack, Go Red For Women –
With each New Year, comes time to reflect the past and assess the habits we want to change for the future. We promise ourselves to make diet and exercise changes in order to lose those extra pounds. However, each year, many of us start off right and then find excuses later on to quit. According to nutritionist and American Heart Association volunteer Maribet Rivera-Brut, people usually fail to accomplish their mission for a healthier life when they don’t set achievable goals and lack commitment.
Follow these Guidelines:
The American Heart Association’s suggestions? Stay focused and follow these guidelines:
• Create realistic goals and strategies. “Set a goal you know you can keep,” says Maribet. “If you are trying to eat more vegetables, don’t start by gorging yourself. Pace yourself.”
• Assess your current health. Take the American Heart Association’s My Life Check Health Assessment that identifies where you fall on the health spectrum based on seven health measures, known as Life’s Simple 7:
1. Never smoked or quit more than one year ago
2. Body mass index less than 25
3. Physical activity of at least 150 minutes (moderate) or 75 minutes (vigorous) each week
4. Four to five of the key components of a healthy diet consistent with current American Heart Association guidelines
5. Total cholesterol of less than 200 mg/dL
6. Blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg
7. Fasting blood glucose less than 100 mg/dL
• Keep it simple. If you aren’t used to eating something, try gradually adding it to your diet, Maribet suggested. Not a fan of greens? Try mixing a small amount of frozen spinach to smoothies.
• Be patient. “We need to accept the fact that we followed the same lifestyle for a very long time,” says Maribet. “Changing it isn’t always easy.” And remember, it’s OK to slip up sometimes – just remember to get back on track.
5 Easy Heart Healthy Resolutions for 2014
Need some suggestions on 2014 New Year’s resolutions? Here are five easy, heart healthy resolutions for every lifestyle.
1. Drink more water: You’ve heard it time and again, but the fact remains: Drinking the right amount water is a key ingredient in staying healthy. If you’re drinking more water, you’ll have less room for sugary sodas – which is a good thing. If you’re looking for more ways to get your eight glasses a day, check out Heart.org/GettingHealthy for more helpful tips!
2. Go green: Make 2014 the year of the kale chip – not the tortilla chip. By keeping your cabinets stocked with heart healthy fruits and vegetables, you are in better shape to stick to your resolution. And if fresh doesn’t work with your schedule or habits, remember, you can get frozen or canned. Just be sure to rinse canned fruits and vegetables, as they may contain added salts and sugars.
3. Eat seasonally: Good for your budget and waistline, eating seasonally means you are getting food at its peak performance and flavor level. Additionally, you’ll be supporting your local community and farmers, which is always a great resolution as well.
4. Cut out processed food: Decide that 2014 is going to be the year you say no to aspartame, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil. In addition to chemicals you’re body doesn’t need or want, processed foods are full of added salt. Higher salt intake puts you at risk for high blood pressure.
5. Eat more fiber: Crucial to heart health and reducing the risk of heart disease, fiber is easy to add to your diet. Whole grains are filled with fiber, which makes digestion easier and helps you feel fuller when you’re done eating – both key factors in weight management.
Visit www.heart.org/nutrition for tips on eating healthy at home or on the road. The “Dining Out” section helps you order heart-healthy meals and offers suggestions for healthy substitutions.
About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. To learn more or to get involved, contact the Kansas City office at 913-652-1913 or visit us at www.heart.org/KC. You can also follow us at American Heart Association – Kansas City on Facebook or @AHAKansasCity on Twitter.