Many people see a new year as a new beginning. A chance to restart the cycle by ditching bad habits and replacing them with positive ones. Maybe you have already written resolutions or maybe that is just another item on your ever-growing to-do list. If you have written resolutions, did you include some cardiac resolutions? If so, hear it from your favorite cardiologist first, we are proud of you! If you have not written resolutions, don’t worry; it is not too late (& we are still proud of you too). We hope some of the following resolutions inspire you to Kare for your heart more intentionally this year!
When choosing your resolutions, we want to remind you to be realistic. Do not expect to go from 0 to 100 in a day; this is often what causes people to give up prematurely. Instead, think through your current routines and see where you can fit a few new habits in. Taylor your resolutions to your specific needs and start where you are at. Okay, now that we have said that, let’s get to the good part!
Heart Patient New Year’s Resolutions
1. Walk more: Walking is a great way to exercise and Kare for your heart while protecting your joints. It can boost your mood, help you maintain or lose weight and improve your balance. If you rarely exercise, consider starting with a 10 minute walk once a day.
2. Eat More Vegetables: The CDC recommends that adults should eat 2.5 – 3.5 cups of vegetables per day. If that seems staggeringly high, consider eating one serving of vegetables three or four times a week to get started!
3. Start a journal to track your progress: Do you keep track of your exercise, weight, eating habits or blood pressure? If not, we encourage you to start tracking them! This not only helps your doctor understand your body more specifically but it can be motivating when you see your goals being met.
4. Meditate to relieve stress: If you felt anxious in 2021, start incorporating meditation into 2022. Mediation can look different for different people, but it involves slowing your mind down and focusing on the present. This could include sitting still, listening to music, focusing on your breathing, painting, journaling or anything else that calms your mind. There are also breathing techniques you can do when you get anxious or overwhelmed!
5. Eat more heart healthy meals: If you are a heart patient, eating heart healthy meals can help you manage your heart disease and help you feel better. We have a free, heart healthy recipe Facebook group that is open to anyone looking for recipe inspiration. If you rarely eat heart healthy, consider adding a few new meals into your diet each week!
6. Talk to someone when you are stressed: Feeling overwhelmed every now and then is normal but if “every now and then” turns into always, we encourage you to be intentional about letting someone in. It can be anyone you trust, including a friend, family member or counselor. You may find it is a great way to process how you are feeling and relieve stress!
7. Limit your salt intake: Limiting your salt intake can help control your cardiac symptoms and prevent the progression of heart disease. If you aren’t sure where to start, here is a list of free, low-sodium recipes for you to try. You can also start by limiting foods that contain large amounts of sodium like fast food meals or canned goods.
8. Get enough sleep: The recommended amount of sleep for adults is between 7-9 hours per night. When you fail to get enough sleep, it can affect your physical and mental health. Consistently running on a sleep deficit also increases your risk for heart disease, weight gain, depression and anxiety.
9. Do more of what you love: If you had a whole day to do anything, what would you do? Now, what is stopping you from doing it? We know you may not be able to take a whole day to do something you love, but adding small things you love into your routine may help you manage your stress.
10. Be consistent with your prescription medications: We know this may seem like an obvious thing to do, but in reality many people struggle to remember to take their medications as prescribed. If you struggle with this, consider making it your new year’s resolution to do better! You can set an alarm, leave notes around the house or ask a friend to remind you around a certain time.
11. Avoid screens before bed: Did you know that the light from your TV, computer or smartphone can make it harder for you to fall asleep? Try replacing this habit by reading a book or listening to music!
12. Quit smoking: Tobacco can permanently damage your blood vessels and your heart. If stopping tobacco all together seems overwhelming, consider smoking a certain amount less per week or per day.
13. Try yoga: Yoga is not only a great way to relieve stress, but it can reduce tightness that leads to muscle pain, improve your balance and strengthen your muscles. Consider trying this yoga video to start!
14. Limit the calories you drink: One can of coke contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar which is at or above the total amount of sugar you should be consuming throughout the ENTIRE day. If you drink a lot of soda, sweet tea, lattes, etc, consider slowly reducing this amount to get started!
15. Try a new activity: Those with heart disease are at a higher risk for developing mental health conditions. If you are feeling down, we encourage you to get out of your normal routine and try new activities. After all, you never know, you might like it!
16. Eat more fruit: The CDC recommends that adults eat 1.5 – 2 cups of fruit per day as they contain healthy vitamins and minerals for your body. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider eating an apple, orange or banana once a day. You can also eat fruit as a low-sugar, low-calorie dessert!
17. Join a heart healthy support group: If you feel alone in your diagnosis, search for a community. Hearing other peoples’ stories may be encouraging and comforting to you. You may find you relate to those people or learn different ways to cope with what you are going through. We have a free, heart patient support group that anyone is welcome to join (including family members of heart patients).
18. Limit your alcohol consumption: Alcohol is bad for your heart in excess amounts. It can increase your risk for heart disease, raise your cholesterol and contribute to weight gain. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider reducing your intake each week, joining a support group or seeking help from a counselor!
19. Exercise for 30 minutes each day: You have heard it before and you will probably hear it again: consistent exercise is great for your health. It can help you lose weight, strengthen your cardiac muscles, boost your mood and prevent diseases. If 30 minutes per day seems like an unreachable goal, start smaller and increase your amount over time! You can also start with activities you enjoy like walking with a friend, playing tennis or hiking!
20. Eat whole grain carbohydrates: If you love carbohydrates, do not worry, they are not all bad! Eating whole grain carbs can be a great way to make the foods you love a little healthier. Even if you only eat whole grain bread half of the time, it is still better than never! You may find this eases your taste buds into the transition!
We hope some of these resolutions stood out to you and are motivating for you as you pursue healthiness. Remember to be realistic and give yourself grace. Small steps in a direction over time can get you farther than you would have thought! Until next month, stay healthy and happy New Year!
Thank you for letting us Kare for your heart!