Heart Healthy Eating: Making Nutrition Goals Stick

Hello Pulse Cardiac Health Family!! Many of you are looking to start fresh, with a renewed sense of motivation to get a few things back on track. One of the most popular focus points is diet. Many are looking to shed some of the weight from special treats you’ve been eating, and just overall looking to make some healthier, heart wise choices. This is a wonderful idea!!.. but it can also sometimes be a little tough to maintain over the long haul. So, I have put together a few tips to help you keep on track!

Tip 1 – Pick one thing to change vs. trying to change everything at once.

When our motivation is at its peak, and we haven’t had to put our words into real action yet, its easy to get a little ahead of ourselves and set the bar really high. Inevitably it becomes too challenging and we just give up all together.

Instead start by identifying one key focus point and put all of your motivation in one singular direction, on one main focus. For example, maybe its potion sizes, or cutting out alcohol, maybe it’s choosing to eat more vegetables, or to eat less red meat. There are so many focus great heart healthy points to pick from… if you are having trouble deciding which one is best for you, please contact me, [email protected], I would be happy to help.

Once we have our focus point, purely focus on that one thing. Don’t worry about the others for now. We want to focus daily on achieving that one goal. Reset, and start again the next day with the same focus. It takes about 6 weeks to turn that into a habit. Once we’ve got that first focus point under our belt, and feel confident to maintain it, then we look at setting our next priority. Picking our second focus point, and putting our energy into that just the way we did with our first commitment. We do this while of course, maintaining our new found habit with the first goal we made. The cycle continues, and before you know it, you’ve made a lot of changes for the better and they are all now well ingrained into our daily routine!

Tip 2 – To Fall is not to Fail.. it’s how you RISE after you fall.

You are going to slip up.. it’s ok! Just get back up. GET BACK UP!! Don’t ridicule yourself, stop the negative talk. Shake it off and get back up. Start again, and keep starting again. You are worth it. You deserve it. You are going to have days that are harder than others, change is hard. If it was easy we wouldn’t have the obesity epidemic we do, we wouldn’t have the high rate of diabetes, and cardiovascular disease that we do. However, your heart health, your life, is worth the hard. The good far outweighs the hard. You can do this!

Tip 3 – Get support: It’s easier to use the buddy system!

Encourage your spouse/partner to join in with you. If you share a home, eat meals together, it tends to be easier if you do it together. You can help keep each other accountable, and motivate each other to keep up the good work. However if this is not an option that works for you, talk to friends, co-workers, groups you are involved with, or me!!, to help keep you going. A support network to help you through makes a difference when trying to make a change. To know you aren’t in it alone, that others understand what you are going through. Tell people what you are doing. Don’t keep it a secret. Let others in on this journey to healthy eating with you!

Top 10: Heart Healthy Diet Priorities:

  1. Eat Breakfast
  2. Reduce portion sizes
  3. Reduce salt
  4. Increase Fiber – Vegetables, beans, peas, legumes, oats
  5. Drink water
  6. Reduce Sugar – treats, white bread, pasta, rice, condiments, dressings, cereal.
  7. Choose white meat vs. red – Choose chicken, turkey, or fish vs. beef & pork
  8. Reduce bad fats – processed foods, mayonnaise, butter, dressings, condiments, high fat dairy products, seafood, red meat.
  9. Cut out/ reduce alcohol.
  10. Increase good fats – ground flax, almonds, avocados, olive oil – all in moderation.

To learn more details about these points see our general nutrition talk. Or, and as always, you are welcome to contact me! I would be happy to help.


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Shawna Cook

Shawna is a Certified Clinical Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine, who has been working in Cardiac Rehabilitation for over 10 years. Her years in the health and fitness field however have spanned over the past 2+ decades. As an elite level athlete she fell in love with understanding the human body, and how the choices she made, affected how it performed. This led to a degree from the University of Winnipeg in the stream of Athletic Therapy, and the passion towards helping others recover from injury and "be their best selves" grew.