Friday, June 10, 2011

The Heart of the Matter

Our family has terrible genes as far as heart disease is concerned (but great ones for avoiding cancer -- so yay!). On my Mom's side, my grandpa had multiple heart attacks. Both of my Mom's brothers have had heart attacks and one of my uncles even died before he was 60. Sad. We found out my Mom's mom (Mema) had blown a heart valve right before she died. Mema also had really really high cholesterol. On my Dad's side, my grandpa died while my Dad was in Vietnam of a heart attack. I know my grandma had a stroke, but I believe she also had a heart attack. My Dad's brother also had a heart attack -- I bet he was in his late 40s or early 50s when that happened. My Dad has had heart problems, although gratefully never a heart attack.

This is all in the forefront of my mind since one of my uncles was admitted this week to the ICU for a heart attack. It freaks me out because my Mom has struggled with her weight like I have and still do (although she has lost and maintained a 50-ish lb. weight loss for almost 10 years; very proud of her). She is older than her brother was when he died, and older than her remaining brother who had a heart attack this week. It is crazy.

It also makes me concerned for me and for my own health. I used to think in my 20s "This heart stuff only really becomes important when you're 40 or older." I am glad that I don't think like that anymore, and am trying to be proactive about eating (mostly) right and exercising most days.

I am surprised how much it is being underscored to me that all of this getting healthy stuff is so not about the skin deep issues -- about looking cute and skinny. It is about changing how I approach food and why I eat. I also initially wrote "it's about not dropping dead of a heart attack" -- but actually it's not about that. Instead of living a defensive life of fear where my goal is to avoid bad things happening, I want to live live on offense -- I want to be in the very best physical shape I can so that I can do fun things like climbing to the top of waterfalls or kayaking or running around playing with little kids. Really, it's all about living a full life where I enjoy myself and am not obsessed with or inhibited by the food I put in my body. To me that is the goal of this whole healthy living thing.

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