At last night’s dinner party, the subject of health came up as part of the dinner conversation. One of the attendees was sharing a story where she was telling a friend how to avoid surgery. She was explaining how changing diet and adding exercise could help prevent surgery and the recipient of the information said “ that is too much work, I guess I will end up having surgery.” Stories like these always sadden me a little. It saddens me because lifestyle changes are not nearly as difficult as people make them out to be in their heads. Many people think that in order to get healthy you have to make big changes in your life that will turn your life upside down and make your life miserable and not worth living. This is not the case, actually often a few small changes can improve your life and your health. The key to lifestyle change is to make it consistent. Do you remember learning to brush your teeth when you were small? I’m sure your parents remember the struggle to remind you but over time, guess what, it became a lifetime behavior. Brushing your teeth is a consistent behavior. If you want to create healthy behaviors, you just need to do them consistently until they become part of your routine.
Small consistent behaviors are more powerful that big, grand sweeping changes. Big, drastic changes you might start with enthusiasm but they last for three weeks or a few months until you get overwhelmed and drop back into your old routine. One small consistent change may take you a month or two to incorporate into your life and then it is part of your routine. Once it is part of your routine then you are ready to add in the next behavior. In the course of a year you can add six new behaviors. Six behaviors can change your life and your health. Consider that. It is powerful!
- Eat more fruits and vegetables - on average Americans eat only 2-3 servings per day of fruits and vegetables. USDA recommends that we eat 10 serving ever day.
- Eat whole grains instead of processed foods - whole grains help lower cholesterol by binding to it and pulling it out of the body.
- Drink 8-10 (8 oz) glasses of water every day - it can stabilize blood pressures.
- Exercise 10-15 minutes a few times per week - the more you exercise the more your body wants to exercise.
- Practice stress management daily or weekly - just breathing for a few minutes can help reduce stress.
- Play - relaxation and play helps mentally and emotionally with heart health.
What is one small change that you can incorporate into your life that improves your heart health?
For more information about simple changes to heart health http://healthydaes.org/blog/2013/02/15/simple-behavior-changes-can-create-heart-health
Dr. Daemon Jones