Everyone has a reason for not being more heart healthy – I’ve got a busy lifestyle, I love French fries, I like sitting on the couch watching Netflix. Although some reasons are valid, the trick is to not let the reasons be excuses for poor heart health.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America, and some of its causes are within a person’s control. Ultimately, everyone can choose to exercise or eat healthier foods. But making lifestyle changes that will stick is easier said than done.
Thirteen representatives from nonprofit organizations in Utah are making a stand against heart disease by committing to a 100-day competition to become more heart health. The 2017 My Heart Challenge: Nonprofit Edition launched Sept. 6, and during the kick-off breakfast, some of the contestants explained their biggest stumbling blocks to being heart healthy.
Do those “reasons” sound familiar?
During the next 100 days, these 13 participants will be working with dietitians, exercise therapists, and other Intermountain LiVe Well experts to help them make lifestyle changes that will increase the likelihood that the changes they make today will lead them to healthier hearts and healthier lives over the long term.
If you’re just getting started, pick one of these five tips and make a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goal for how you can implement it into your daily routines for the next 100 days.
TIP #1 – Have a workout partner
“Having an exercise partner is the best way to avoid skipping out on the gym,” said Philip Heywood, LiVe Well Clinic manager. “When you have someone willing to go with you to get better, it makes it easier to follow through with your goals. You’re able to hold each other accountable and push each other to be better.”
TIP #2 – Create a prompt to remind you
“Schedule activity into your work day and determine a prompt or trigger to remind you to do a healthy activity,” said Locke Ettinger, director of health promotion for Intermountain Healthcare. “The prompt can be something physical like an alarm, and it can remind you to eat an apple, take a walk around the office, or do a few stretches at your desk.”
TIP #3 – Start small
“Write down one small thing you can do in the next week that will improve your heart health,” said Kary Woodruff, dietitian with the Intermountain LiVe Well Center. “Those could be things like replacing white grains for whole grains, making one of your meals during the week a heart-healthy fish like salmon, or reducing the amount of soda you drink in a day. Then make it a point to achieve that small thing, and once you have that down, add another small thing to the mix.”
TIP #4 – Prepare a little extra healthy food at dinner
“Prepare healthy foods during your evening meal, and cook a little extra so you can bring it to work with you the following day for lunch,” said Ettinger. “Designate a drawer in your office as the healthy snack drawer and fill it with fruit, nuts, and other heart-healthy snacks.
TIP #5 – Avoid the elevators/Take the stairsNear every elevator is a perfectly good set of stairs. While it may take a little longer to take the stairs (depending on how many floors you need to go), adding the extra few minutes of climbing the stairs into your daily routine will help strengthen your muscles and move you closer to having a healthier heart.