American Heart Association: To Your Health! A Guide to Heart-Smart Living

American Heart Association: To Your Health! A Guide to Heart-Smart Living

by American Heart Association Staff

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Whether you're a couch potato, diet dropout, or heavy smoker, it's hard to change old habits. But with this step-by-step guide, you can do it!

You'll learn how to set realistic goals and follow through on them, plus stick to your new healthful habits. Stories of how other real people overcame the same hurdles will motivate you.

* Find physical activities that are fun for you. Reward yourself in healthful ways for your fitness achievements.
* Create a personalized eating plan that you can really live with
*Learn how to identify your most common smoking triggers. Discover ways to beat those urges and kick the habit for good.
* Find out how to get reliable information and become proactive about your health.

This friendly little book is filled with tips and can help you change for the better. You'll take charge of your health and celebrate again and again. To your Health!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780609807026
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/18/2001
Series: American Heart Association Series
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.75(d)

Read an Excerpt

Getting Started

How to psych yourself up for success

"We have met the enemy, and he is us." -- Pogo

although it may be tempting to skip this chapter, don't do it. You may be thinking, "Get on with it. I want to lose twenty pounds. Just tell me how, and I'll do it." Trouble is, that's not how you lose 20 pounds--and keep it off. That's not how you quit smoking--and stay a nonsmoker. Instead, that quick-fix attitude is the recipe for failure, so stick with us here. This chapter is about the inner you, the single greatest key to changing your life.

Attitude Adjustment

The opening quote from Pogo reflects the heart of the problem. When it comes to getting what you want in life, you are your own worst enemy. Sure, others can help sabotage your efforts, and they often will, but your own double-mindedness is what allows that to happen. You are the captain of your fate--thinking anything else is sheer delusion.

Ralph is a perfect example. He was overweight as a child and obese as an adult. A therapist pointed out how as a child Ralph became a compulsive eater, and he embraced that idea at once. He grabbed at this truth, seeing it as the reason he was hopelessly fat. He decided that his overweight condition was fundamentally unchangeable--that it was his fate.

"I was miserable. Whenever I tried to lose weight, I failed. I thought nothing I could do would help, and sure enough, it never did," Ralph said. "I can see now that, in a sense, my attitude made me comfortable. The idea that I was powerless to change took the responsibility off my shoulders."

Ralph's comfort level hit the skids when he bumped into a buddy from his old weight-loss group. The man had lost 64 pounds and toned up well at the gym. Ralph almost didn't recognize him.

"This guy had a background similar to mine," said Ralph. "I realized that if he could do it, I could too. And, frankly, I wanted that kind of body. So all of a sudden, I realized there's no such thing as unchangeable fate--not when it comes to body weight. I had already proved that I could increase my body weight by any amount. Now I was determined to prove that I could decrease it by any amount."

Ralph asked for his buddy's eating plan and joined a gym. It took almost a year of trial and error, but Ralph went from 240 pounds to 175. After he lost the weight, he never went back to his old eating habits. He stuck with his weight-loss eating plan but added enough calories to keep his new weight stable.

"I have this pair of pants from my old days at 240," said Ralph. "I keep them because they remind me of something really important: I--and I alone--am responsible for my size. I determine my own fate."

How Badly Do You Want This?

Sure, you want to quit smoking. Who wouldn't? Your friends barely put up with it. Strangers are disgusted by it. You have about a million burn marks on your clothes, car, and furniture. And just buying the cigarettes costs enough to finance a yearly trip to Tahiti. Even so, you don't quit. Secretly, you may feel that you're just weak and you have no willpower. A lack of willpower is not the problem. You have all the willpower in the world. We believe that you're not really ready to quit. Deep down, you just don't want to do it.

That's okay. However, if you've picked up this book, we suspect that you're at least thinking about making a change. The book may nudge you in the right direction by giving you new information that will influence you to change. Or it may furnish you with tips on small changes that can ease you into a new course of action.

After reading the pertinent chapter, if you don't really want to lose weight, get more exercise, or quit smoking, put this book down until you do. If you're not ready, you'll be spinning your wheels and getting nowhere.

The first order of business is to determine whether you really want to make a change. Fortunately, that's easy. Everyone moves naturally through five stages on the way to lifestyle changes.

To find out which stage you're in, take the following Stages of Change Test. It will show where you are.

Stages of change test

Circle the number that applies to your status.


1. I am currently smoking, and I do not intend to quit in the next six months.
2. I am currently smoking, but I intend to quit in the next six months.
3. I am currently smoking, but I intend to quit in the next month.
4. I have not smoked for the past six months.
5. I quit smoking more than six months ago.
6. I have never smoked, and I am confident that I never will.

b. heart-healthy diet*

1. I am not eating a heart-healthy diet, and I do not intend to adopt one in the next six months.
2. I am not eating a heart-healthy diet, but I intend to adopt one in the next six months.
3. I am not eating a heart-healthy diet, but I intend to adopt one in the next month.
4. I have been eating a heart-healthy diet for less than six months.
5. I have been eating a heart-healthy diet for more than six months.
6. I have been eating a heart-healthy diet for more than six months, and I am confident that I will continue this diet no matter what roadblocks come up.

c. physical activity**

1. I am not physically active, and I do not intend to become active in the next six months.
2. I am not physically active, but I intend to become more active in the next six months.
3. I am not physically active, but I intend to become more active in the next month.
4. I have been physically active for less than the past six months.
5. I have been physically active for more than the past six months.
6. I have been physically active for more than six months and I am confident that I can continue no matter what roadblocks come up.

Find the number you circled for each of the behaviors listed above.

a. Smoking b. Heart-Healthy Diet c. Physical Activity

Using the following key, rank your stage of change for each of the areas described above.

stages of change

1. You're not even thinking about it. You haven't considered taking any steps to change the way you're eating, start exercising, or quit smoking.

2. You're thinking about it. You're considering making some changes but still haven't done anything.

3. You're getting ready. You're intent on changing, and you've even started to make a few inroads. You may have asked your friends about eating plans or called a quit-smoking clinic for information. You may have purchased some walking shoes, but they're still sitting in your closet.

4. You take action. You've begun the new eating plan. You've enrolled in the quit-smoking program. You've laced up your shoes and started walking.

5. You embrace maintenance. You've been incorporating these lifestyle changes into your life successfully for a while, and you're starting to feel comfortable with them.

6. You've been living a healthful lifestyle for at least six months. Now you can't imagine your life any other way.

You cannot will yourself to move from one stage to another. But if you're stuck at one stage and wish you could move up a notch, there are some things you can try.

Perhaps you don't really understand the risks of your current behavior or the benefits of changing it, so you're stuck in Stage 2. If so, seek information about those risks and benefits. This book will help (see specifically the section you need to work on, and check out "Information Highway" on page 229).

You might be trapped at Stage 3 because you lack the confidence that you can make the needed changes. This book can help you gain that confidence by breaking the changes down into small steps that you can try. Once you try a step and succeed, you can move on to the next step. If you still need an extra boost, try working with a personal trainer, a registered dietitian, or a stop-smoking counselor. These professionals may be able to help give you the confidence you need.

Another aid to change is social support. Get a walking buddy or join a class. Sometimes seeing a friend take action helps you realize that you can do it too.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1Getting Started: How to Psyche Yourself Up for Success1
Attitude Adjustment3
How Badly Do You Want This?5
What's Your HQ (Health Quotient)?10
Let's Get Physical: Regular Checkups18
The Nuts and Bolts of Changing Your Life27
Chapter 2Living Lean: How to Lose Weight - and Keep it Off33
How to Keep Your Head While Losing Weight37
How Does Your Weight Stack Up?37
Eight Great Reasons to Lose Weight42
Preparing to Face the Challenges46
Ten Secrets to Losing Weight-and Keeping It Off51
Chapter 3Getting off Your Rocker: How to Dump Your Couch-Potato Lifestyle and Really Start Living115
"No Pain, No Gain" Is a Pain117
The Pleasure Principle: Find an Activity That's "Fun and Games"121
Good News for Nonjocks123
Prod Your Bod126
Your Target Heart Rate127
Does Your Workout Measure Up?130
What Is Fitness?132
Walking: The No-Sweat Workout135
Breaking the Whine Barrier149
Setting Goals-and Getting Your Just Rewards153
Your Quick-Start-into-Action Checklist157
Chapter 4Clearing the Air: How to Make A U-Turn on Tobacco Road161
Why Smoking Is Playing with Fire165
What Happens When You Put Out the Flames168
Calling It Quits171
How to Beat the Tar Out of Smoking Urges175
Smoke and Mirrors: What Really Makes You Want to Light Up?181
Getting Help from Nicotine Gum, Patches, Inhalers, and Drugs201
How to Quit: A Step-by-Step Guide209
Chapter 5Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: How to Work with Your Doctor to Stay Well221
Who's in Charge Here?223
Information Highway227
Just What the Doctor Ordered230
Chapter 6You Can Take it from here! We're Behind You All the Way243
Five Steps to Success245
Hang On to This Book247
For Further Information249

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