Preventing Heart Disease
Making Lifestyle Changes

Some of your daily routines may be putting your health at risk. Making lifestyle changes is often necessary for continued good health. Even when you know what to do, or what you should do, making lifestyle changes can be difficult.

Ask yourself, "Am I ready to make important changes now?"

You may see no real need to change just now. You have no serious symptoms: no pain, no swelling, no breathing problems. You enjoy your life the way it is.

You may have already made some changes: lost some weight, lowered your blood pressure, started walking every day. But, you don’t feel much different than before, and it’s difficult to stay motivated.

Not everybody is ready to do what needs to be done to guarantee good health. That’s the way life is.

If you’re not sure if you're ready, you’ll probably find it difficult to make changes.

What can I do if I’m not quite ready to make a lifestyle change?

If you're not ready to make a change, gather information, read articles, and talk to friends who have overcome the negative health behaviors and risks that you may now face (for example, smoking or being overweight). Make a plan for your future, including what you need to do to ensure a long life. Make a list of the personal and social benefits good health will give you.

I believe I am ready to make changes now. Where do I begin? I really tried but I'm back to square one!

It happens to everybody. After months of diligent work, physical activity, diet management, or not smoking, you slip. Now what? Don’t give up.

Take a look at what triggered your relapse. Was it the smell of smoke at that party Saturday night that led to just one, then a whole pack of cigarettes? Maybe you were too tired to get out of bed for your morning walk on Tuesday, then Wednesday, then the rest of the week.

Start again. Rewrite your plan. This time you know what to do and how to do it. Change those things that didn’t work. For example, if getting up at 5:30 a.m. to walk didn’t work well, try walking at 6:30 p.m., after a light supper.

Brainstorm what you can do to avoid the trigger situations that caused your relapse. Simple solutions might include getting to bed earlier, staying away from smokers at parties, or avoiding fast food restaurants when you haven’t eaten for five or six hours.

Remember: It’s OK to take a day off now and then.

Use your support system. If you are not finding the support you need, try enlisting other friends and family members. Who else can you talk to, workout with, or call when you feel low?

Take a deep breath and start over, right now.

Now I've made the changes, but I'm afraid I'll let my guard down and regress. How do I maintain the changes?

When your hard-won behavior changes become routine, it is easy to forget, get bored, or lose motivation. Try some of these ideas to keep your interest and health at peak levels.

Steps You Can Take Today: What can I do to maintain good health in the future?

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