My WHY Didn’t Work Out Because I Didn’t Workout

Here I am on May 10. I lost six pounds during the weight loss challenge I accepted two months ago. I have gained it all back. Not sure if I am heavier than when I started, but my final weigh-in will reveal the results on Saturday. I’m disappointed in myself. But I can’t complain, because even without having completed this challenge, I have learned.

I have learned that when it comes to exercise and changing my food intake I need a routine, and when that routine is altered due to circumstances I have no control over, it creates anxiety that cripples me. I started off this program successfully going to the gym or working out at home regularly. Four weeks in, I hurt my back and was unable to complete any workouts that week. The next week, still recovering from the back pain, the workouts I did were much slower and less involved. At that point, the Y began a renovation process. They moved every piece of equipment for cardio and strength into different rooms. The flow of my routine was interrupted.

In the midst of that, every week the wellness team was presenting us with both nutrition and exercise challenges. New information constantly being introduced to us and it was overwhelming! Some Sunday nights when I opened the email, it was a tidal wave of new material and I was drowning. I had trouble seeing the shore where I could have stepped away, toweled off, sat on the sand to compose myself and consider dipping my toe back into the water. Instead, I just ran away.

I’m a mom! I know I can multitask! But when it comes to making these types of changes, I really need to focus. There are so many nuances with nutrition and exercise, and I need to give myself time to feel confident and secure in each of the changes I’m making. I need to enter slowly into the waters of a healthy lifestyle. I need to get myself adjusted to the feelings that each step makes me experience.

A huge part of my issue is just fear. A subliminal fear that was awakened in me after my heart attack. Hell, a case of bad heartburn and I almost died in my bathroom.  It is pretty easy to pull the rug of confidence and safety right out from under someone when what seemed like a normal day was almost their last. The fact that I can actually use my bathroom is a huge accomplishment (especially since we only have one and can’t afford to move). Now, new things that are going to directly affect my body are things I approach cautiously.

You may remember me mentioning the book  Heart Smart for Women: Six S.T.E.P.S. in Six Weeks to Heart-Healthy Living that I was reading prior to taking on this challenge. Well, I should have just stuck with the book. Drs. Jennifer H. Mieres and Stacey E. Rosen, both cardiologists, did a wonderful job developing this program. I was reading the book, highlighting it, psyching myself up to start the steps, joined the challenge at the Y and put the book down. I didn’t follow through with what they had recommended and I wish I had, but now is my chance. And while it is a six week program, I plan to move at my own pace so I don’t stop taking the steps! I will commit to making changes as I develop confidence enough that I am succeeding with the new routine I put into place so I can add to it and not fail. Knowing two cardiologists developed this program has already instilled a sense of security in me that I can accomplish this.

Signs from the universe appeared this week as I determined that I just need to start fresh.

heart smart


I received a tweet from the Heart Smart Movement page asking how my reading was going and which S.T.E.P.S. were working for me. Ugh. Well … I have now tweeted this blog as a response to you and if you have gotten this far, you know my answer. I am currently working on week 1 of the program, “WEEK 1 S: Select and stock the kitchen with healthy food choices.” Ironically, our refrigerator broke this week and wasn’t cooling down. As a result, I had to ditch everything in it providing me with the opportunity to start completely fresh.

So now, it is time for me to pull together my shopping list, restock my 37 degree refrigerator and take the time to build my confidence in every change I make. In doing this, I will be better suited to handle the things I have no control over. I can’t stop the waves from coming, but I can prepare myself to face any ripple or swell knowing that I am capable of floating, swimming or surfing my way back to shore.

What’s My Why?

Yesterday was March 1. New month. New day. New beginning.

The past few weeks as I observed American Heart Month, I thought more about working on improving my health and why. I started reading a wonderful book called Heart Smart for Women: Six S.T.E.P.S. in Six Weeks to Heart-Healthy Living. and began creating an inventory of my life, what needed to change and how I could accomplish that.

On February 15, a friend who lives in the next town over posted on Facebook that she was going to participate in the Greater Hartford Slimdown through her local YMCA. A ten week challenge encouraging members to form teams and work together to exercise, build strength and live healthier lives. I had won a free three month family membership to that YMCA in December but hadn’t yet activated it. I spent a couple of days thinking about it and reached out to my friend on February 18 asking if she was going to be forming a team. She replied yes and asked if I would like to join with her friends. My answer, “Yes! I need something to get me going and this would be perfect.”

March 1 workout
Beginning my journey wearing my Human Unlimited shirt “Little things make big things happen.” 


Yesterday, I met my friend and another teammate to weigh in at the Y. I had become Facebook friends with the other woman once I knew we would be joining the team together but hadn’t spoken with her yet. I noted that I saw her FB page had posts about February being Heart Month and asked, “Do you have a survivor in your family?” She smiled and said, “Me.”

Whoa … another heart survivor?!?!? Long story (that lasted the hour we spent chit chatting on treadmills – YAY US!) she went into sudden cardiac arrest when she was 18 as she was driving while on vacation. Thankfully, she had almost come to a stop at a light when she slumped over the wheel. Divine intervention came into play when an off-duty  paramedic who was a few cars behind came to help administer CPR as they waited for help to arrive. She was eventually diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome, a disorder of the heart’s electrical system causing rapid heartbeats.

One of my issues with lack of exercise has been my fear of something else happening. It seems silly, but in the back of my head I worry. Even though I have had three stress tests and an angiogram since my heart attack which have all resulted in good news, I have still been cautious. Knowing I will have someone else along for this journey, another person who “gets it,” is a comfort I haven’t felt since I left my 70 and 80 year old friends back at cardiac rehab in the summer of 2014.

March 1 Heart Sisters
Heart sisters after our first hour long walk!

After we weighed in (and I saw a number bigger than any I had ever seen before – ugh) we found three treadmills and began our first day of exercise. Slow and steady, but we were moving. We talked and walked and before we knew it, our “Let’s stay for 20 or 30 minutes” became an hour!

March 1 treadmill
Day 1 … first time on a treadmill since August 2014.

This all came because I finally decided to make ME my why! I needed to changed the narrative from making my family my reason for doing things. Now it is me. Because when I set my mind that I am doing things for them, they remain at the top of my priority list. I now have to work and make sure I am at the top of that list, knowing that by taking care of me, I will be able to take care of what I need to for them. For the next ten weeks at the Y, my WHY will be me!


Benjamin Franklin said …

“Never leave till tomorrow that which you can do today.” Thanks for the inspiration, Ben. I was actually thinking of putting things off for two more days, waiting because it marks a milestone and it would be a great time to celebrate with something new. But then, I thought about how procrastination has cost me so much time in my life already. So I’m starting two days ahead.

Two days from now, I celebrate my third Heartattackiversary! It was May 11, 2014 – Mother’s Day – when I suffered a widowmaker heart attack and went into sudden cardiac arrest at home. Thanks to my brave husband and children, the timely arrival of paramedics, many nurses, doctors and the friends, family and strangers who took time to pray, I survived. It was just not my time to go and I was given another chance at life.

While some in my situation have an epiphany and immediately turn their life around, for me it hasn’t been that easy. Life got in the way as I worked to take care of my family and commitments, forgetting to carve out the time I needed to focus on me. I have learned that I need to take care of not only my physical heart, but my emotional heart. My whole heart!

This blog is a place for me to share my journey as I work to focus on me. Finding ways to prioritize my health, focus my mind, deal with feelings and live a full life. I won’t be perfect in my pursuit, and that is why I am saying everything outloud. I know I am not the only person who struggles with discovering and caring for themselves. I wanted to be able to have a place where I write about my process, allow others to share theirs and maybe provide some inspiration for others.

I’m going to do my best not to live my life as I have, based on Mark Twain’s quote, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” I can’t promise my life will have any less sarcasm, but I’m going to make sure it has more selfcare, time for reflection, good friends, great memories, family, laughter and love as I live for my whole heart – wholeheartedleigh!