Heart Disease: Debbie


We’re visiting Bill’s brother, David, and wife, Linda.

“I’ve lost 100 pounds!” Yep, this is Debbie talking. No one ever believes me when I would say this. But I’ve said this many times during my 20s and 30s. No one ever knew me when I was 100 pounds overweight. You see, I’d have to clarify my statement by saying, “I’ve lost 10 pounds 10 times.”

I’ve always said I just have a “slow metabolism.” I started watching what I ate in High School and maintained my weight so I was 110 pounds when I graduated (at 5’4″ tall). Then I went away to college and gained the “freshman 15” but for me it was the Freshman 25! And then it began, gaining and losing. In my 30s I discovered exercise so for 20 years, kept my weight under control. I say all this to say, I was a pro in losing weight. And then I hit the 50s. It got to a point where I just gave up and said, “This is what happens to women in our 50s.”

Now Bill on the other hand, at 6’2″ and large boned, always ate whatever he wanted and was never concerned about his weight. Until his 60s. He thought diets were a waste of time and never saw anyone really succeed in their diets. Actually, he saw me struggle a few times so he knew how unsuccessful dieting is. And then he resolved, “I guess this is what happens in our 60s.”

Then Bill had a wake up call! And we were struggling as we knew we needed to lose at least 10 pounds (really, only 10???). Neither of us wanted to go up another size! He was starting to see his 36″ clothes and belts were not cutting it (he had gone to stretchy relaxed fit jeans, slacks and shorts. Now he admits he was probably a 38, but the “relaxed” and stretch band added up to 2″) and I hit size 12 (again). The wake up call helped us when he was diagnosed with heart disease and Metabolic Syndrome. This post shows our “before” and “after” pictures.

The first blog post we wrote about Heart Disease, we started it by being flummoxed about the TV commercials advertising prescription drugs for whatever ails you, then ads by lawyers saying if you ever took such and such drug and now have cancer or some other disease, call them and they’ll sue big pharma. At the same time, we started noticing all these weight loss ads for Nutrisystems, Jenny Craig, etc. Most notable is Marie Osmond. WOW, isn’t she a great marketing symbol for them? And then there was Kirstie Alley….Are these just marketing techniques or is there something to the obsession with losing weight the “easy” way? And THEN, after you lose that weight, what do you do? Eat Nutrisystems for the rest of your life? I understand the yo yo….

The GRAND Deception:  Here’s the hard facts of life:

  • We THOUGHT we ate healthy. After all, we didn’t eat out (except once or twice a week – to socialize or for an “emergency meal” due to traveling).
  • We THOUGHT we exercised. Well, I was once called a gym rat at work – so I knew all about exercise and I did say I had to walk at least two miles every day to keep my knees working fine. But in reality, it wasn’t as much as I thought. And for Bill, he could take five mile walks whenever we were in Myrtle Beach (as did I) and we went on long walks/hikes whenever we could. But it wasn’t in a heart healthy exercising way.
  • We didn’t really eat desserts! Or did we? We were hooked on Sweet Frog for about a year. It was so fun to find them in our travels and after all, it was healthy yogurt. And we did just put fruit and nuts on them….well maybe some whipped cream and a cherry on top! Then we did realize we were putting on some weight. So we cut back and began to buy yogurt at the store – but it wasn’t long before Bill went back to regular ice cream. I discovered No Sugar Added Klondikes. Since we lead such active lives, we did need that refreshment every night….I could make a few more confessions, but hopefully, you get our point.

Recently, I took a survey provided by my health care company about my health – I am actually quite healthy but now I am thinking about my heart. You see, I developed rheumatic fever at the age of 6. That’s a heart disease. I was told I had to limit my physical activity and take an antibiotic the rest of my life. Strep throat could kill me! I got out of a lot of gym “tests” but I loved to be physically active – so I sort of cheated on this, running whenever I could….Then I went away to college, so I stopped the antibiotics and began to work out. I suffered no ill effects and went on to develop great stamina.  Whenever I’d have a medical physical, my heart was healthy! But the survey said:

You indicated that you have been diagnosed with heart disease. The goal now is to stay as healthy as possible in order to prevent heart attacks and congestive heart failure. According to the information you’ve provided, you are doing a great job – your risk of developing heart problems in the next 5-10 years is very low. This is great news! You will always be at some risk for heart attack, but a healthy lifestyle and a good partnership with your doctor will help keep those risks low. You may be prescribed low-dose aspirin therapy or other blood thinners, as well as a beta blocker, to prevent future heart problems. To be effective, any heart medication that you have been prescribed must be taken regularly as directed. It’s a good idea to keep an eye on your blood pressure by checking it at home and during regular doctor visits.

It then told me to form healthy habits which will help me avoid further complications from heart disease.

  1. Fill your plate with plants. A plant-based diet high in fiber, vegetables, and whole grains and low in fat and red meat has been shown to support heart health.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight. Heart disease in combination with obesity is a recipe for further heart problems and many other conditions, including metabolic syndrome.
  3. Stride toward fitness. Exercise can help to lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and stress levels! Starting with just a few minutes of exercise per day and gradually increasing can put you on the road to better health.

WOW, that’s exactly what we are doing! So here is our update after nearly six months. I’m down to a size 6 (again and finally) and Bill is back to size 33 (his size when we married and up until he hit 50).  We feel GREAT and now see we can do things we were struggling with – in spite of our active lifestyle.

This happened to us us WITHOUT any effort. We simply changed our outlook on food. We decided to read labels of what we were eating….wow, you have to google half of the ingredients and once you see a pattern, it forces you to change what you put into your mouth….for us, it’s “whole foods.”

Mentioned in an earlier post, we were both asked by our doctors what had we done to lose our weight. We both said, Heart Healthy Diet, or whole foods. And our doctors asked us what did that mean to us? You can read about it here – but now we are learning about something even better….

David and Linda

Meet Bill’s amazing Brother, David, certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) who loves to say he puts people to sleep for a living; and my precious sister-in-love, Linda, also an RN who has helped us more than we can imagine in our 40 plus years of marriage!

My sister-in-law Linda lent me a book titled “It Starts with Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. This link takes you to their website, particularly to their books. I’m not going to say much about the Whole 30 program, as I am waiting for my sister-in-law to publish in her blog her food journey. She couldn’t wait for us to finally visit them (we arrived May 20) so she could lend me her book! As I began to read it, I realized I am now FREED FROM THE ADDICTION of unhealthy eating! I am so excited and I look forward to learning more about the Whole 30 program – which is really helping me understand what we’ve done and more importantly, the WHY is worked! We’ve committed to this lifestyle….

And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail….Isaiah 58:11

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