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.”
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.
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!
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!