By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
Resolutions…This time of year, everyone’s talking about them, many people are making them, and very few people are keeping them.
In fact, 80% of people fail at keeping their New Year’s Resolutions by the time Valentine’s Day rolls around. Aren’t there bound to be determined, hard-working individuals in that 80% majority? So…why do they fail?
Take it from my 40-plus years of experience with all sorts of well-intentioned patients… people fail at achieving their most vital health goals because they either try to do too much, or they try to do too much at once. With an aggressive list, focus gets divided. When this happens, it’s tough to prioritize, and you may even lose sight of your health goals entirely!
As you make new year resolutions, my advice to you is:
- Be specific.
- Keep it simple.
- Most importantly, choose resolutions that won’t just change your year, but that could change your life.
As a cardiologist, I suggest just five straightforward new year resolutions your life actually depends on. They’re simple and have powerful potential to change your life for the better. And, instead of just helping you start your year off right, these health goals are practices that can become habits which improve your life for many years to come.
Three New Year Resolutions You Should Make For Life
Resolution #1 – Stop “dieting” and rethink food entirely.
INSTEAD OF: Latching onto a fad diet or depriving yourself of certain foods…
DO THIS: Change your relationship with food.
Food has become such a big part of our social lives and leisure time, and can be such a source of pleasure, that its purpose has nearly gotten lost over the centuries. While food is a great way to enjoy life and bring people together, food’s primary purpose is to fuel our bodies.
After all, our bodies work 24 hours a day to serve us – why don’t we spend as much time serving our bodies? We need to give the body the fuel it needs. When we fail to do so, we compromise the body’s strength and ability to do what it is designed to do: fight disease, heal itself, sustain our energy, and keep us on the road to longevity. In a compromised condition, our bodies tire easily, and become stressed, overweight, or ill.
Where to start:
Adopt the Pan-Asian Modified Mediterranean (PAMM) Diet – This isn’t really a “diet” at all, but instead, a plan for eating natural, nutritious foods that support vitality. Founded upon science-based principles, the PAMM Diet is a guide for eating foods that truly fuel your health.
- The foods in this diet help reduce inflammation in the body, which in turn reduces the severity and incidence of everything from minor aches and issues, to illness and disease.
- By focusing on foods rich in health-supporting, natural nutrients, you will find it easier to avoid the refined sugar and “bad fats” that have been working against you for years. The more you eat foods your body really needs, the easier it will be to cut back on “empty calories” like sugary sweets and fast (or fried) foods.
- People who adopt this diet often report having more energy, an increase in lean muscle with a decrease in extra body fat, and even improved heart health.
- BONUS: You can still eat healthy fats and delicious pasta on this diet.
Resolution #2 – Start thinking about your heart first.
INSTEAD OF: Trying to lower the number on the scale or make your muscles bigger…
DO THIS: Make your most important muscle (your heart) stronger.
We’re only human, and we can’t ignore the fact that it feels good to look good. Everyone seems to have a “goal weight” or a desire to tighten and tone, or build up those muscles in the mirror. And while confidence and strength are good things, they’re not the most important: your longevity and vitality are.
Though it’s beating all of the time without us even having to think about it, our heart is responsible for the functioning of everything else in our body. If our heart is weak or unhealthy, we can’t enjoy (or even do) all of the things that make us lean, strong and happy. If you’re still young, or have never had any heart issues, it’s very easy to take your heart’s health for granted. Believe me – prevention is so much easier than cure.
It’s important to remember that no one is 100 percent immune to heart problems, and that a proactive approach is much better in the long run. So don’t wait until your heart starts showing you signs of trouble – pay attention to it right now.
Where to start:
Give your heart more of 2 key things it needs: nutrients and oxygen.
Nutrients: You get a two-for-one deal on nutrients, because the ones you get from adopting the PAMM Diet (see Resolution #1) are ideal for your heart. So I’ll emphasize it again: adopt the PAMM Diet, and eat up when it comes to those good fats and colorful plants, fruits and proteins. I also recommend taking dietary supplements to give you the extra nutritional boost – here are my top 5.
Oxygen: Your heart gets sufficient oxygen for survival, but getting more of it is key for optimum health. As exercise strengthens other muscles in your body, it makes your heart muscle more efficient as well. So add 20 to 30 minutes of heart-rate-raising activity and exercise to your schedule each day, and take a few minutes to do breathing exercises, try yoga, or even just go for simple walks.
- As you now know, the foods in the PAMM diet help reduce inflammation in the body, including the heart. This lowers the heart’s susceptibility to disease, and lowers your chance of having a heart attack or stroke.
- When you exercise regularly, your heart becomes more efficient at pumping blood through your body, which helps keep blood pressure under control. You also get more life-sustaining oxygen to all the other cells in your body, not to mention better blood flow to the vessels around your heart, which helps prevent clogs from forming. Finally, exercise increases HDL (“good”) cholesterol that lowers risk for heart disease.
Resolution #3 – Check out of screen time, check in with quality time.
INSTEAD OF: Depriving yourself of TV or social media entirely…
DO THIS: Take short, regular breaks from devices to make face-to-face time with friends.
Along with ease of purchasing, communicating and being entertained, technological advancements also come with certain drawbacks. One of these drawbacks is that we spend too much time using our phones, computers, tablets, and televisions, and all of these devices have electromagnetic fields (EMFs) that can negatively impact our health over time.
In addition, we lack the positive benefits that come from having real and nurturing relationships with others. Yes, it’s true: even something as small as a smile, a laugh or a hug can have a huge impact on lowering our stress levels, increasing our happiness, and improving our overall well-being.
Your one-step course of action:
- Spend just a few more minutes each day doing something you enjoy, and a few less minutes on your electronic devices. That’s right: put the phones and computers in another room, and take some time to focus on time with a friend, family member or pet.
- When you reduce your time with your electronic devices, you take a break from the electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of the devices (which can otherwise be harmful over time). In addition, the positive energy or vibrations created when you do something you enjoy instead, or by spending time with someone you have a positive relationship with, also lowers your stress (and cortisol) levels. This does wonders when it comes to a happier, healthier heart.
New Year Resolutions for Life
So there you have it:
- Stop dieting and change your relationship with food.
- Think about your heart first.
- Spend less time on devices and more time with people.
Commit to starting out with just these three, knowing that change will come gradually.
Revisit these health goals daily as a reminder not only of what you’re doing, but why.
While everyone else is out making resolutions for the year, you’ll be making resolutions for life.
© 2018 HeartMD Institute. All rights reserved.