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I Over-Ate My Way To a Heart Attack – And Why I Talk About It Now | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

I Over-Ate My Way To a Heart Attack – And Why I Talk About It Now

For decades, I had gradually snacked my way into obesity. It was always  – just once. Just once, I would enjoy this snack, that dessert, and that fried chicken. Except the just once happened all the time. And my favorite foods included fried chicken, biscuits and gravy, and every kind of potato or corn chip known to man. Not to mention potatoes, pasta, breads, and all kinds of cheeses. And exercise was something I thought about and planned to start – later. If you gain 5 pounds a year, that adds up to 50 pounds in a decade.

Risk factors for health issues like heart attack are mixed – we’re born with some, and others we cultivate with our own bad habits. Well, I had plenty of them. And I reveled in the illusion that pursuing them was “living.”

However, I was wrong.

When I had my heart attack, I felt stupid because I knew better but failed to live a healthier lifestyle. Fortunately, I survived and got a second chance.

But the trick now is not to blow it. I talk about my heart attack, and what I have to do now for varied reasons:

  • Others can learn from my mistakes. Maybe what I have gone through can inspire someone to eat an extra vegetable or walk an extra 15 minutes. If so, it’s worth my being transparent. Too often, we live in a cloud of denial. I’m here to say that women in their 40’s CAN have heart attacks and artery disease. 
  • Going public keeps me accountable. After my heart attack, my cardiologist told me if I wanted to really recover and reduce my risk of future heart attacks, I had to eat better, exercise more, and lose a minimum of 51 pounds. Well, it’s almost 4 months since the heart attack, and so far I’ve lost 30 of those pounds. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve struggled over every ounce. Each day is a sequence of choices to healthier eating. By going public, I know that when I eat with others they can see what’s on my plate, going into my mouth, and if I walk what I talk. When you announce to thousands of people – through Facebook and your blog – that you’re working to lose that much weight, it gives an accountability I didn’t anticipate.
  • People see that when we make mistakes, we can learn from them and work to fix them. I can’t fix what I ate 6 months or 6 years ago. However, I can control what I eat today. I can drop bad habits and incorporate better ones into my daily routine.

Maybe if more people went public like me, we could all inspire others to do better.

Trust me. Which of the following two options sounds easier?

  • Eating a healthier diet, with appropriate portions and exercising daily.
  • Eating by whim, not exercising, and having a heart attack where they do emergency surgery to place a stent to correct the artery blockage. This involves a medical team putting a miniature tube (catheter) into your artery, threading it to the blockage, inflating a balloon to open the artery, and then inserting a stent to hold it in place. In my case, when I flinched when the cardiologist inserted the tube into the artery, he told me, “If you move like that again, you will die.” And then after the procedure and after they remove the catheter, first a nurse applies direct pressure to the artery for half an hour, followed by 4 hours of your not moving while a sand bag rests on the artery to reduce the risk of a fatal hemorrhage.

Somehow, we have to get to a point where more people choose the healthier diet and exercise to lower the number of people who need the medical intervention.

One of the reasons I survived is to encourage others to follow the advice we all know is good for us:

  • Eat right.
  • Exercise.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Drink your water.

An ounce of prevention really is easier than a pound of cure. Or in my case, 51 pounds of cure.


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