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Straight Talk from 'Dr. Stephanie' January 2014
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Realistic New Year Resolutions

Stephanie Coulter, MD, FACCIt's hard to believe, but Texas Heart Institute’s Center for Women’s Heart & Vascular Health celebrated its third birthday this fall.

 As we look back, I am pleasantly surprised by how much we have covered in these Straight Talks: Stroke; Broken Heart Syndrome; Menopause; Mitral Valve Prolapse; Aspirin, Omega-3, Fish, and Fish Oil Supplements; Depression; Blood Pressure; Weight Loss; Cholesterol; Calcium...and so on.

You can find great information in our Straight Talk newsletter archives, and I hope you will consider incorporating these tips into your New Year’s resolutions. I challenge you to revisit some of our posts and outline how to realistically approach heart-healthy goals in 2014.

Hints for achieving New Year’s Resolutions

Write it Down
If you keep your New Year's resolutions to yourself, it is all too easy to simply forget about it. Write down your resolution and place it somewhere where you can see it every day. Next to the  resolutions you can post your ideal numbers. Use your smartphone or calendar to create recurring reminders.

Take it “Public”
Tell your friends, family and colleagues about your resolution, and ask them to provide you with friendly nudges to help you reach your goal.
 
One experiment tracked 3000 men and women for a year who were attempting to achieve various health related resolutions, including losing weight, visiting the gym, quitting smoking, and drinking less. Women succeeded 10% more often when they shared their goals with friends, family or coworkers. For women, peer support makes a difference. Sound familiar?
 
Don’t Quit if You Slip
Don’t forget, you are undoing one habit and trying to form another. These things do not happen overnight. 
 
For example,people on diets might suddenly indulge. We all mess up from time to time. There are no “bad” foods, just bad dietary habits. Don’t  beat yourself up and quit after one cupcake slip.
 
For those trying to exercise more, you might find yourself unable to work out for a day or a week for reasons beyond your control. All is not lost in one day or one week. An exercise routine added to your calendar will help you remember how important it is in your new year schedule (a Monday to Friday 30-minute workout each day is ideal). You can get back on track as fast as you fell off the exercise wagon. 
 
Don’t Rush It

Don’t make the mistake of trying to achieve too much to fast. Chances for success are greater if you channel your energy into changing one thing at a time to reach your overall goal. For example: 

  • Cut your food portions in half in January.
  •  
  • Cut out sugary sodas in February
  •  
  • Eat smaller meals throughout the day.
  •  
  • Make wise food choices and try to stick to them.
  •  
  • Take the stairs whenever possible, park your car farther away, and take 10-minute strolls around the office.
  •  
  • Research “clean diet” and check out the inspiring information and amazing recipes on our Pinterest page.

Be Specific, Creative and Consistent
Think through exactly how you are going to achieve your goal and get creative. Try to schedule your activities as you might schedule anything else. For example, instead of saying that you will go running twice a week, schedule running on Monday and Wednesday at 6:30 PM. If it’s not running, find a physical activity you like and do it. Walk, bike, swim, skate, hike, yoga, dance; any activity! Organizing yourself will decrease daily stress and give you something to look forward to during the work week.

New Year's resolutions are popular but often given up quickly. To help keep you on track, check out these online resources. If you have a topic you would like to learn more about, please send us an email at women@texasheart.org .
 
Remember, educating yourself about a healthy lifestyle is important, and is your choice.
 
We look forward to another great year!

Until next time!
Stephanie Coulter, MD, Director of the Center for Women's Heart & Vascular Health
Stephanie Coulter, MD
 


Do you have a topic that you would like to learn more about from Dr. Stephanie? Send us an email at women@texasheart.org and your question may be the next Straight Talk topic!

We are saving hearts and trees. The Women's Heart Health E-News is sent via e-mail and posted online. Sign up using the form on this page. 

Visit the Center for Women's Heart & Vascular Health at www.texasheart.org/women.

 

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