Heart-healthy Advice from the Play at Home Contestants

By Jason M Carlton

At the close of week three in the My Heart Challenge: Play at Home Edition, our 25 contestants have tracked a combined total of more than three million steps. With six weeks to go, we asked our contestants to offer some advice on how others can make heart-healthy changes in their own lives.

my-heart-challenge-contestant-advice
Just to take it one day at a time, one meal at a time, one snack at a time.  And the more we do good on our eating, good habits will form. And before you know it, the cravings will be gone for the sugar stuff.  And keep moving...moving is just as important as the food we eat. I am actually looking forward to my exercises each day. I have myself on an schedule, that I really enjoy doing them now.  That has not always been the case.  I still haven't lost anymore weight, but, I am feeling stronger. On Saturday, my husband and I went for what I thought was going to be an easy hike for him.  It was to Ensign Peak.  The last time I went there, I don't remember it being so steep. But, we made it. And I didn't think it was that bad. A couple of months ago, it may have been a different story. Can't wait for the next hike! 

It's not easy to make healthy choices if your cupboard is full of chips, candy, and cookies. Go through the cupboards and get rid of it! When you go shopping, always shop the perimeter, that's where the healthy choices are stocked, then go through the middle. Always remember to read the labels! Also, breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day. If you can eat a healthy breakfast, then try to eat a small snack about every three hours, you'll find that you're not starving around 2:00pm and search out the vending machines. However, the worst thing you can do is deprive yourself. I've found that if I allow myself one small treat a week, I won't binge. For example, I have a piece of candy on my desk at work. If I really, really, feel I need to have a treat I allow myself that one piece of candy and it satisfies the craving. Most important, don't beat yourself up if you slip and don't try to make up a slip by starving yourself.   

Don't be too hard on yourself. If you slip up then just shake it off and strive to do better the next day. Set small goals like losing 2 lbs a week so that you don't become discourage and try to workout and get healthy with a friend because having someone to work out with makes it easier to maintain and stick to your goals.

My advice to eat more heart health choices would be to be sure to get plenty of fruits and vegetables in throughout the day (5-8 servings).  Sometimes, you have to pass up a cookie and eat an apple but when I do, I think, "wow, this apple tastes really good, even better than the cookie would have tasted!".

I would say eat a lot more vegetables and fruits and a lot less sugar, fat, and carbs. I would also say to exercise at least 30 minutes 5 days a week and drink at least 64 oz of water daily.

My advice would be to stay strong. We are around holidays and sometimes we will slip up and have a cookie or cupcake or Easter egg. But just because you have one, doesn't mean you throw the entire day away...just work out a little more so that the treat was a reward.

Don't give up. It takes some work and some days will be better than others. Just keep trying and do the best you can. Make sure you educate yourself, track your food and exercise and be honest about what you eat. If you have that slice of pizza you're craving, it's not the end of the world. 

Don’t try to lose weight in a hurry, it does not stay off. A long steady loss is more likely to stick as you “reset your drives”.

Give yourself a break.  When you fall down, get back up.  Just because you made one poor choice does not mean you are doomed to making poor choices.  Last week I learned that I need to "Recognize it, Own it, and then Overcome it".  It doesn't matter what the "it" is.  Recognize that we have weaknesses, embrace the fact that this is where you are now, and set a plan to overcome it.  

JUST STICK TO IT! In the first few weeks of this challenge, I have wanted to eat all of the unhealthy things that I used to eat all the time. My family is knows that I am trying to live better, but they still tempt me with the unhealthy choices that I told myself that I would not eat. Even though I feel like I am doing this challenge alone, I am getting so motivated seeing myself drop pounds like never before just because I am sticking to my plan. I’m finding that I am making better food choices, exercising more, and that I am just happier because it is good for me and I am becoming healthier. So, my advice to anyone and everyone: Just Stick to It.

My advice to others is make sure you have healthy snacks on hand and try to plan your day to make sure you are eating when you should. You don't want the hunger to sneak up on you when you are walking by the free cookies at the pharmacy. Also that one mistake doesn't mean you can't eat good for the rest of the day. 

Don't be afraid to try new things, sometimes the weirdest combinations taste the best, and use lots of seasonings but avoid the salt!

Changing habits is hard to do.  Just keep reminding yourself of the end result.