Making New Year’s resolutions is a time-honored tradition and sometimes those resolutions are easier to make than to keep. The American Heart Association, the world’s leading nonprofit organization focused on heart and brain health for all, has tips and resources to help you set goals you can keep all year long.
“The new year is a time many people commit to making a new, healthy start – we want to eat better, exercise more, lose weight, quit smoking – the list goes on. However, for many of us, the stress of trying to live up to those lofty goals can be too much,” said American Heart Association volunteer cardiologist John A. Osborne, M.D, Ph.D., director of State of the Heart Cardiology in Grapevine, Texas. “The most important thing is to set realistic expectations and start with small changes that you can amp up over time. And if you get off track, don’t be discouraged or give up. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle takes time, so be kind to yourself and realize that making a new, healthy start doesn’t always need to coincide with Jan. 1.”
Here are a few tips to get you started:
* Start small: Set yourself up for success by gradually adding in a healthy habit. Look for opportunities to make a healthy swap during at least one meal each day for a week or try to walk for five minutes instead of scrolling through social media as a break between meetings or tasks.
* Think lean when it comes to protein: Plant proteins like nuts and legumes, fish or seafood, low fat or non-fat dairy and lean cuts of meat are the best bet when picking protein. Research shows that replacing red and processed meat with other protein sources is associated with lower death rates from cardiovascular disease.
* Keep moving: Balance food and calorie intake with physical activity to maintain a healthy weight. Take a walk after a meal or play fetch with your pet.
* Reduce stress: Chronic stress can keep you from feeling your best, so incorporate scientifically proven stress relief activities each day like meditation, physical activity or spending time with your pet.
* Make a plan: Take a few minutes each week to write out a list of meal ideas and grocery needs and you’ll be less likely to make impulse purchases. The American Heart Association’s Heart-Check mark has a list of certified heart-healthy foods if you need inspiration.
Learn more about living heart-healthy year-round at heart.org/healthyliving.