Staying motivated and energizedOver the past eight weeks NYNY participants and community members have taken meaningful steps to improve their heart health. It’s a time to feel good about the progress made and celebrate successes. But one should not stop here. Reducing risk for heart disease and stroke requires an ongoing commitment to healthy behaviors.
By: Emily Kjhelland, The Jamestown Sun
Over the past eight weeks NYNY participants and community members have taken meaningful steps to improve their heart health. It’s a time to feel good about the progress made and celebrate successes. But one should not stop here. Reducing risk for heart disease and stroke requires an ongoing commitment to healthy behaviors.
Stop, Think and Choose.
As you continue on your journey to lifelong heart health, stop and take a deep breath before you make a choice that may not support your commitment to being physically active and eating healthy foods.
Stop if you’re tempted to make a choice that may not support your commitment to an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits.
Think about your progress during the NYNY Challenge and the personal benefits you are enjoying from new healthy habits. Remind yourself why your eating and physical activity choices are important to you.
Choose the best solution after weighing the benefits and barriers for your options. Whether you’re having a high-fat snack attack or just want to lie on the couch after a long day, remember that you will feel better in the long run by choosing a healthier option. Also choose to share your skills and knowledge with friends, family members or co-workers. Your support people were likely important to your success. Be that supporter for someone else.
When you see yourself lapse, or fall back into unhealthy habits (it happens!), look back at the things that helped you make healthy choices during the challenge. These skills and strategies are meant to be used for a lifetime — not just an eight-week program.
Plan For the Future
Throughout the NYNY Challenge you have been encouraged to set small weekly goals. Short-term goals that are specific, measurable, realistic and have a time frame, guide you in making changes and build your self-confidence. It is important that you continue to set new short-term goals and an action plan for yourself. These daily action plans will remind you what you need to do to make your heart and your health a priority. Long-term goals will also help keep you focused. In addition to setting new short-term goals, set one or two long-term heart health goals. Walking in an organized 5K walk, eating four cups of fruits and vegetables most (five or more) days of the week and lowering cholesterol levels to a healthy range are just a few ideas.
Finding new opportunities for regular physical activity and making healthy eating choices will keep you challenged and motivated.
Make it Fun
*Choose activities that are fun, not exhausting. Add variety. Develop a repertoire of several activities that you can enjoy. That way, exercise will never seem boring or routine. Exercising at the same time of day can help it become a regular part of your lifestyle.
*Ask family and friends to join you — you’ll be more likely to stick with it if you have company. Or join an exercise group, health club or class.
*Look for chances to be more active during the day. Walk the mall before shopping, take the stairs instead of the elevator or take 10–15 minute breaks while watching TV or sitting for walking or some other activity.
*Track and celebrate your success. Keep a record of your activities on a calendar or in a logbook. Reward yourself at special milestones. Nothing motivates like success.
*Subscribe to a magazine, website, or email newsletter with healthy recipes and cooking tips.
*Support local farmers by buying fresh fruits and vegetables at your local farmers’ market.
*Start a healthy supper club by asking friends to gather at a house for a healthy meal; ask everyone to bring a dish and copies of the recipe to share.
A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. It’s not as hard as you may think! Remember, it’s the overall pattern of your choices that counts. Make the simple steps part of your life for long-term benefits to your health and your heart.
Emily Kjelland is cardiac rehab and wellness coordinator at Jamestown Regional Medical Center