Ask the Expert: 5 Ways to Overcome Stumbling Blocks to a Healthier Heart

Everyone has a reason for not being more heart healthy - you have a busy lifestyle, you have a love for French fries, you like sitting on the couch watching Netflix. Although some of these reasons are valid, the trick is to not let the reasons be excuses for poor heart health.

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America, and several of its causes are within a person's control. Ultimately, everyone can choose to exercise or eat healthier foods. But making lifestyle changes that will stick is easier said than done.

Thirteen representatives from nonprofit organizations in Utah are making a stand against heart disease by committing to a 100-day competition to become as heart health as possible. The 2017 My Heart Challenge: Nonprofit Edition features people who serve the community in one way or another. Their organizations include the American Red Cross, YWCA, the Road Home, United Way, National MS Society, Boys & Girls Club, Human Society, Family Support Center, Utah Voices for Children, Friends for Sight, Jewish Community Center, South Valley Services, and Utah Community Action.

For some of the My Heart Challenge participants, some of their heir biggest stumbling blocks to being heart healthy is a lack of time, they love food, or they watch too much TV.

Do some of these “reasons” sound familiar?

During the next 100 days, these 13 participants will be working with physicians, dietitians, exercise specialists, and other Intermountain LiVe Well and Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute experts to help them make positive lifestyle changes that will increase the likelihood that the changes they make today will lead to healthier hearts and healthier lives over the long term.

If you’re like these the 2017 My Heart Challenge participants, and are just getting started, or are ready to enhance your health health, pick one of these five tips and make a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely) goal for how you can implement it into your daily routines for the next 100 days.

TIP #1 – Have a workout partner

Having an exercise partner is the best way to avoid skipping out on the gym. When you have someone willing to go with you to get better, it makes it easier to follow through with your goals. You’re able to hold each other accountable and push each other to be better.

TIP #2 – Create a prompt to remind you

Schedule activity into your work day and determine a prompt or trigger to remind you to do a healthy activity. The prompt can be something physical like an alarm, and it can remind you to eat an apple, take a walk around the office, or do a few stretches at your desk.

TIP #3 – Start small

Write down one small thing you can do in the next week that will improve your heart health. Those could be things like replacing white grains for whole grains, making one of your meals during the week a heart-healthy fish like salmon, or reducing the amount of soda you drink in a day. Then make it a point to achieve that small thing, and once you have that down, add another small thing to the mix.

TIP #4 – Prepare a little extra healthy food at dinner

Prepare healthy foods during your evening meal, and cook a little extra so you can bring it to work with you the following day for lunch. Designate a drawer in your office as the healthy snack drawer and fill it with fruit, nuts, and other heart-healthy snacks.

TIP #5 – Avoid the elevators/Take the stairs

Near every elevator is a perfectly good set of stairs. While it may take a little longer to take the stairs (depending on how many floors you need to go), adding the extra few minutes of climbing the stairs into your daily routine will help strengthen your muscles and move you closer to having a healthier heart.

Make a plan to enhance your heart health and follow the My Heart Participants as they work to become heart healthier over the next 100 days.