Heart-Healthy Resolution: Go Big, Go Positive
Do you have high blood pressure or precursors to heart disease? This year, honor yourself and focus on good heart health. And your timing is perfect: February is National Heart Month!
Try our ideas to making a beneficial change in your heart health for 2018.
Go big—and SMART! Dream up your heart-healthy resolution. You’re aiming for a shift in focus, a new lens through which to view your lifestyle choices. Keep it SMART but flexible. The idea of SMART goals are that they have Specific, Measurable outcomes and are Attainable, Realistic and Timely. For example, the general goal of “I want to lower my blood pressure” becomes SMART when it expands to this: “By next month, I want to lower my blood pressure to less than 140/90 by increasing my exercise to 3 days per week and reducing my consumption of salty foods.”
Work with your doctor and dietitian. An excellent place to start for heart health is with your primary care provider or cardiologist, and a dietitian to sort out the details. Tell your provider that you are working on improved heart health in 2018. Ask what areas you might focus on for prevention or for treatment of a specific heart condition. Your provider can guide you in lifestyle changes to improve your heart health. The American Heart Association offers several guidelines for managing high blood pressure (also called hypertension)—eat a well-balanced, low-salt diet; quit smoking; enjoy regular physical activity; and more.
Stay positive with changes. When it comes to heart-smart eating in 2018, focus on your well-being, not the latest fad diet. One approach is to practice mindfulness as you eat. Take the time to check in with yourself: Am I really hungry? Which snacks give me good energy? Which foods make me feel good and inspire me to eat right? Once you’re sitting down to eat, slow down and appreciate the meal. Savor the colors … the flavors … the aroma. When you feel full, stop eating. Applying a positive attitude to your goal can be a rewarding path to success. It helps to lower stresses in your life and can assist you with feelings of failure.