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New Year's Tips to Improve Mind, Body ... and Heart

In another week the New Year will be here and the holidays behind you. Unfortunately, so may be a slightly larger derriere. After the holiday parties have come and gone, and so has the company, it###s time to get back on the wagon! The health wagon, that is. The American Heart Association suggests making the following four New Year###s resolutions to improve mind, body and heart:

  • Don###t bail out on the resolutions, just because February comes around the corner

Everyone who chose "diet" as a New Year###s resolution raise your hand. That###s what I thought. Experts tell us that two-thirds of all backsliding happens within 90 days of starting your healthy new routine -- which makes these first three months of the year so crucial. To Your Health! A Guide to Heart-Smart Living has some pointers for making that essential comeback after a fall:

  • Plan for moments of weakness by stocking up on quick low-calorie munch-ables like sliced carrots, cucumber, green and red peppers, nonfat popcorn, pretzels and low-fat crackers.
  • Keep a list of projects you can do instead of eating to relieve tension. Then reach for the list instead of the food.
  • Make eating an activity in itself. Don###t pair it with other activities like watching TV or reading.

What causes backsliding? Life: holidays, vacations, illness, arguments, stress, guilt, celebrations, divorce, accidents, out-of-town visitors ... the list goes on. Just remember that backsliding is only temporary. Don###t beat yourself up -- just go back to eating like a healthy person again.

  • Try a new way to eat healthy -- cut out the salt. Many holiday table favorites are high in salt. For many people, reducing salt in their diet is a good way to help reduce their blood pressure, and their risk of heart disease. This holiday season, you can give your family a delicious gift -- by cooking smarter. Try these spices and herbs to flavor foods instead of using salt:

-- Basil -- fish, lamb, lean ground meats, stews, salads, soups, sauces, fish cocktails

-- Cider vinegar -- salads, vegetables, sauces

-- Garlic -- lean meats, fish, soups, salads, vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes (not garlic salt)

-- Paprika -- lean meats, fish, soups, salads, sauces, vegetables

-- Lemon juice -- lean meats, fish, poultry, salads, vegetables

For more tips on how to cut the salt and keep the flavor, visit americanheart.org/hbp.

  • Keep it simple, sweetheart

Women often say they are too busy with work, family and other commitments to find time for exercise and other heart-healthy habits. Finding time should be a priority because cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for American women. The American Heart Association has launched its Simple Solutions program, a free, national awareness and education campaign to help women reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke. Women who want to learn more about simple steps that can help improve their lives can join Simple Solutions by logging on to americanheart.org/simplesolutions (or by calling 1-888-MY-HEART.) By joining the program, women will receive:

-- Cards with helpful tips that show women how easy it is to add more energy and vitality into their busy lives;

-- A post card that women can mail to a friend, family member or colleague to educate them that heart disease isn###t just a man###s disease;

-- Quarterly newsletters that will provide tips, report findings from periodic polls, and feature stories on nutrition, physical activity, risk factors and general wellness;

-- E-cards that participants can send to encourage friends to join the program;

-- Success stories of women who are using the program to improve their health; and

-- Healthy recipes.