Achieve Your New Year’s Resolution the Healthy Way

With 2016 in our collective rear view mirrors and 2017 begun, many people will start to reevaluate themselves and ask, “How can I improve myself?” One of, if not, the most common New Year’s resolution each year is weight loss related. This will have many people looking for ways to lose weight and lose weight fast. Fad diets and certain weight loss medications may be among the first places some will look to help begin their journey. However, I am here to inform you of what direction your first steps to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and, subsequently, a achieving a smaller waistline should start.

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week (or a combination thereof). An easy way to remember this is to set your exercise goal at 30 minutes of moderate exercise for 5 days a week. The recommendation moves to 40 minutes of exercise a day for 3-4 days a week for people who need to lower their blood pressure or cholesterol. Being physically active helps to prevent heart attack and stroke, the nation’s number 1 and 5 killers.

You may be asking, “So what exactly is moderate and vigorous exercise?”. It is any type of movement that helps your body increase its heart rate to burn calories. It can be as simple, and as inexpensive as walking, climbing stairs, or jumping rope. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define the goal of moderate-intensity physical activity as maintaining a person’s heart rate between 50-70% of his maximum heart rate. The CDC defines the goal of vigorous-intensity activity as a person maintaining 70-85% of his maximum heart rate. A person’s estimated maximum heart rate is determined by subtracting his age from 220. For example, as a 29 year old, my maximum heart rate is 191. My heart rate goal for moderate activity is between 96-134 beats per minute. My heart rate goal for vigorous activity is between 134-162 beats per minute.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is process that not only includes physical activity, but also a healthy diet. A heart-healthy option that I recommend is the Mediterranean diet. This is a diet that includes the following:  High amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts; butter should be substituted with olive oil; poultry and fish should be consumed twice a week; and red meat should be limited to a few times a month. As a study published in 2013 in the New England Journal of Medicine showed, along with physical activity, the Mediterranean diet may lead to a reduction in the incidence of heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular events.

Before starting a new diet or exercise regime, it is important to speak with your doctor to make sure that your new lifestyle changes are tailored to your specific needs. Fad diets and weight loss medications may help some people meet their goals quickly, but by maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity and a heart-healthy diet will help you not only lose weight, but keep it off.