You have already taken the first steps toward changing diet, behavior, and exercise patterns. Only you have the power to take charge and follow through on your new plan for better health.
Keep in mind the factors that increase risk for atheroselerosis and coronary heart disease in persons who, like you, have been diagnosed as having elevated cholesterol. Cigarette smoking, obesity, insufficient exercise, high blood pressure and diabetes all compound the danger of disease in a person who also has the major risk factor of high cholesterol. How fortunate that you can eliminate or control these risk factors by simply making the one-day-at-a time choice to live a healthy life.
Millions of Americans have already made this choice, shifting toward vegetables, fruit, fish and chicken and away from the saturated fats found in meat, butter, lard, milk and cream. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there has been a marked improvement in per capita consumption of products affecting coronary heart disease risks. Since 1960, use of eggs is down 21 percent,fluid milk and cream down 19 percent and butter down 43 percent. Consumption of fish and chicken are up 20 percent, respectively. Purchase of low-fat and skim-milk products has increased by 300 percent since 1970.
Advice from the Framingham Heart Study, a recent epidemiologic study on heart disease and diet, states: “If Americans would smoke less, get more regular exercise, keep their weight normal, follow a diet lower in fats and take care of their blood pressure, they would have better chances of avoiding, or at least postponing, heart problems.”Is Diet alone-monitoring intake of calories, cholesterol, fats and sodium–can go a long way in reducing the risk of atheroselerosis and coronary heart disease. For example, excess weight and high blood pressure go hand in hand.
Besides controlling weight by reducing fluid retention, lowering sodium intake is an important step in controlling blood pressure.
Diabetes, another risk factor, may often be controlled by diet. Just losing weight will bring certain types of diabetes under control:
A healthful diet combined with exercise is doubly effective in helping to guard your health. Studies have shown that exercise alone helps keep cholesterol levels low.
For one study, Finnish lumberjacks consumed about 4,760 calories daily, with a high proportion of their fat obtained from animal sources. Yet their blood cholesterol levels were no higher than those of other men in the same area who ate less fat. The Finnish researchers believe that physical activity was an important factor in keeping cholesterol levels low.
After receiving your doctor’s approval, it is recommended that you begin your exercise program with walking. As soon as you get the medical okay, get started! You don’t need trendy, expensive clothes; you don’t need a team, an opponent or a partner; you don’t need to drive anywhere, invest in equipment or join costly dubs. All you have to do is step out your front door to start on the path toward living healthfully.
Changing what you eat and increasing your exercise usually require special effort. With behavior modification, you prepare yourself for dieting and give yourself the tools to stick to your new diet plan.
Just as it helps to talk to friends who are also changing their behavior, it can be beneficial to talk to yourself. Listen to what you are saying to yourself. Are you talking positively, helping yourself make changes in your behavior? Or are you saying negative things that will chip away at your determination and perseverance?
Remind yourself frequently that changing eating habits takes time. Review all the changes you have made so far, and pat yourself on the back. Behavior-modification method, which rewards good behavior rather than punishing you when you slip up, puts you on the road to correcting ingrained eating habits that may be harmful to your health.