Change of Heart for the New Year
January 30 2019

Let's face it, the new year is overwhelming. You feel obligated to start out the year with a positive, fresh start and see everyone around you making resolutions. Nothing’s wrong with this, the trouble lies within the success of these proclaimed resolutions. So, let’s keep it simple when it comes to our heart health. Below are seven easy ways to help control your heart health.

1. Ready, Set, Go!

Start off slow. You can’t expect to be able to do the same workout as where you left off at six months ago or whenever the last time you worked out was. You’ll get back there, but it’s going to take some time, hard work and dedication.

Start out with the focus of simply getting your heart rate up. Gear up and take a 15 minute walk at the mall or bundle up and adventure around the neighborhood. Shoot for three days a week to set aside workout time. Don’t forget to stretch! You will probably be sore from this new routine.

Last, but not least, don’t give up. There’s going to be days that you really, I mean REALLY, don’t want to work out. Put the workout clothes on anyway (hey, they’re comfy) and at least get some walking in. We tend to look at working out as a task, this shouldn’t be. This should just be a part of your routine. Shouldn’t your health be your upmost priority? Mentally and physically, working out benefits you, so be a little selfish and take out an hour of your day for you and work out!

2. Show Cholesterol Who’s in Control

We’ve heard this time and time again, yet we still ignore it when there’s fresh salty French fries sitting in front of us. Let’s get our cholesterol back in check. After all, we don’t want any blockages in our arteries.

This is a waxy substance that is used in our bodies to create cell membranes and some hormones can be harmful when numbers get too high. Keep your LDL cholesterol, also known as the “bad” cholesterol, low and your HDL high. Ways to do so include diet and exercise. Do your research and talk to your physician to map out the right plan for you.

3. Time to Eat HEARTy

After having a healthy and delicious meal, we feel great. Why do we have amnesia of that? I’ll tell you why; life. We go for what’s convenient and what we know, whether it be a drive thru or a frozen pizza. It happens.

But, here’s the thing, nature gives us prepackaged foods and we ignore them! Start adding fruits and veggies into your everyday diet. Produce such as peppers, apples and bananas don’t need to be refrigerated and are a great snack for on the run. When you’re stumped on what to eat, you can’t go wrong with some yummy leafy greens. Get adventurous and go online for some healthy recipes to include these foods in your everyday diet. Remember, don’t be skipping out on veggies, fruit, low-fat dairy, fiber-rich whole grains and lean meats including fish. Try out a new recipe a week to figure out what you and your family enjoy!

4. Lower the Pressure

Directly related to our heart health is blood pressure. Having high blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. So, let’s be proactive in managing it. You can manage your blood pressure by reducing sodium in your diet and eating heart healthy, getting regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, managing your stress, limiting your alcohol intake and avoiding tobacco smoking.

5. Lighten Up

So a few pounds may have snuck up on us over the holiday (or the past year, or two) let’s make it go away. Use the tips from above along with commitment to tackle this task at hand. After all, being overweight is directly linked to high blood pressure.

6. Stop Being So Sweet

Ahhh, ice cream, cake, cookies and candy bars, many people’s weakness. Don’t let those sweets make you weak any longer! High blood sugar is obviously bad for the heart and increases your risk of stroke and heart disease.

You can reduce your blood sugar with regular physical activity, reducing the amount of simple sugars in your diet (i.e. soda, candy, desserts, etc.) and making sure that you’re taking your medications or insulin if it’s been prescribed to you.

7. Just Quit Already!

There are very few things in life that are acceptable to quit, but this one is something necessary to quit for optimum health. In fact, smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Smoking damages your entire circulatory system, and increases your risk for several health issues, such as, coronary heart disease, hardened arteries, aneurysms and blood clots. Smoking can also reduce your good cholesterol (HDL) and your lung capacity, making it harder to get the physical activity you need to live a healthy life.

Information provided by the American Heart Association