The beginning of each new year is an opportunity for a fresh start. For many people, this involves making a resolution to focus on improving their health. However, the thought of giving yourself a fresh start in the new year also turns off many others from making healthy changes in their lives due to the belief that it will detrimentally affect their quality of life. Realistically, you don’t have to completely overhaul your life and deprive yourself of the things you love in order to choose healthier habits.

Keep Your Goals Within Reach

This is the time of year when people start proclaiming lofty accomplishments for the upcoming year. Having goals can be a helpful way to focus on achievement, but they need to be realistically attainable. Rather than saying you’re going to run a marathon or lose 50 pounds within six months, keep your attention on shorter-term goals and work to meet them every week. For example, you could start by striving to get moderate physical activity three days per week and limiting yourself to two sugary beverages per week. This way, you won’t begin to feel quickly overwhelmed and behind on your progress, which is what causes many people to quit their goals early on.

Incorporate Physical Activity That Works For Your Schedule

Lack of time is one of the most oft-cited reasons for why people fail to get adequate physical exercise. Modern life does place significant demands on many of us, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still find ways to get your body moving. Whether you prefer to practice early morning yoga to increase flexibility and enhance your breathing, or you’d rather take your dog for longer walks in the park, any physical activity is better than none. It’s not necessary to purchase an expensive gym membership or commit yourself to five days a week of heavy weightlifting to benefit from exercise.

Treat your heart to nutrient-dense superfoods

There are plenty of foods that taste delicious and still pack plenty of nutrients for your health. For optimal heart-health, ensure that the bulk of your diet is made up of green vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Moderate portions of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines will also contribute helpful omega-3 fatty acids. Consumption of other meats should be kept to a minimum. When it comes time for an afternoon snack, reach for an ounce of nuts and a piece of fruit instead of that bag of potato chips. And the best news is, an ounce of dark chocolate (at least 60% cacao) per day is said to reduce the risk of heart attacks.

Embrace preventative healthcare

Most serious health conditions can be treated more successfully when they are caught early. Many health insurance plans now cover preventative costs at 100%, so there’s no reason for you not to schedule a visit and get a clear picture of your health for the new year. Contact Dr. Dilip Mathew, leading cardiac electrophysiologist in Sarasota, FL, who can help identify personal health goals for the new year.