by Diane Osborn, ARNP ***
Statistics regarding heart disease as the No. 1 killer of both men and women in the United States abound. Few people doubt the benefits of regular exercise, healthy eating, weight control and smoking cessation, all of which can significantly reduce one’s risk of experiencing a heart attack or a stroke. In fact, countless people attempt to change unhealthy habits each year as evidenced by improved fitness being the most popular New Year’s resolution two years in a row. Unfortunately one third of these goals are abandoned by February, and 90 percent fail by year’s end. Why is it so hard to follow through on such good intentions?
Decisions about lifestyle behaviors do not result from rational, logical or deductive thought processes. Instead, behavioral decisions take place in the emotional part of the brain. Sustained heart-healthy change requires inspiration, a clear vision and ample self-worth. We need to not only believe that we can succeed, but also value ourselves enough to make our objectives a priority.
Most people today are time-starved, stressed out and budget-challenged. We have limited resources that are quickly used up if we do not take the time to care for ourselves. Changing your mindset to embrace your heart will take time. Focus on developing a vision or long-term goals that inspire you to pursue healthy habits every day, every week, every month and every year.
Diane Osborn, ARNP, works for the Virginia Mason Cardiac Wellness Clinic.