By Barbara Koch, Guest Blogger
There is no particular age at which you can choose to change your lifestyle. I had been making poor food choices for a very long time and that, in addition to virtually no exercise, resulted in weight gain, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels. I lost my father to heart disease when I was only 18 and that impacted my life in so many ways. My mother’s parents both passed away after heart attacks. I knew that if I didn’t make a lifestyle change, I was on a very dangerous path. In January of 2015 I took the plunge and made a personal commitment to improve my lifestyle for the better so that I can continue to live a long and productive life.
My wonderful son bought me the catalyst to better health – a fitness tracker. I started my journey slowly, just briskly walking the halls of our building with a co-worker during lunch hour. My challenge was to reach that 10,000 step goal. I also started using an online fitness tool and began to track my meals. What an eye opener that was! Calories galore in foods that you think are “ok”.
I’m fortunate that my employer implemented a comprehensive wellness program that has really helped my progress. It was very difficult, at first, but I was able to stick with the program. I was truly committed and participated in all of the exercise classes, stairwell challenges, walking program, and high intensity strength training that was offered throughout this past year. Our wellness coordinator really supported me throughout all of my personal challenges. At first I could barely do a regular plank but I surprised myself and with time, was able to hold one for 60 seconds with no problem.
The biggest challenge that I faced was a “Couch to 5K” program, in preparation for the 2015 American Heart Association Walk/Run. I had never considered myself a runner and certainly never for any distance. The last time I can honestly say I had to run at all was when I played field hockey sophomore year in high school! Ages ago in the early 1970’s!
I started off very slowly, gradually building up every day. I’m proud to say that I can now run a 5K in 40 minutes and have dropped 30+ pounds in the past year. It’s very exciting and I hope that I can be an inspiration to all at any age. I’m feeling great at almost 60 years old and please believe me when I say that it’s never too late too start. I’m committed to eating healthy, exercising regularly and living life to the fullest. My family is why!
Our mission is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. For nearly 100 years, we’ve been fighting heart disease and stroke, striving to save and improve lives. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer worldwide, and stroke ranks second globally. Even when those conditions don’t result in death, they cause disability and diminish quality of life. We want to see a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.