Wait. Calm down. Not another heart attack. Geez. Relax.
I had a heart attack almost a year ago to the day. I never saw it coming. I was a healthy (so I thought), energetic entrepreneur running a great business.
Sure I had stress in my life. Tons of it. Still do.
And then I got short of breath. Next thing I know I’m in the ER, an ambulance, and eventually a cardiac cath lab where they stuck a couple of stents in my heart because one of my arteries was 100% blocked. It kinda sucked.
Afterward I saw what I had done to myself. My diet was terrible. “I don’t have time to eat well and look at me – I look just fine.” I didn’t look fine. “I don’t have time to exercise. I’m too busy.” I had time. I simply chose not to.
But I’m better now. Much better.
But man I have worked my ass off to make it happen. I’ve fundamentally changed my lifestyle. And it’s been hard. And worth it. You’ll see the results of my efforts toward the end of this post.
If you’re fat, out of shape, have a lousy diet, lack energy, sleep poorly, and feel stressed out in general, there’s something you can do about it too.
My recovery has consisted of a fundamental diet change, an exercise regimen, medication, and a new view of the stressors in my life.
To wit – in the past year I have:
– Exercised on 172 of the last 365 days
– Done 15,545 situps
– Spent 5,079 minutes on the elliptical machine or running
– Went 798 miles on the elliptical or running
– Fundamentally changed my diet to the point that I’ve eaten fast food about 5 times and that was a plain Arby’s roast beef sandwich every time. I’ve not set foot in a Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Burger King, McDonald’s, or Cane’s in the past year. I do go to Subway but that’s to get a roasted chicken breast or turkey sub on wheat bread with lotsa veggies and some light mayo. And I’ve gone to Wendy’s three or four times. I ordered the grilled chicken salad every time.
– I’ve changed what I order at dinner too. Ribeyes and heavy side dishes have been replaced with salads and salmon. Lots and lots of salmon. And sushi too which is kind of awesome. And a lot of yogurt. Hint: buy stock in Yoplait. Oh, and sugar-free Jell-O and Jell-O pudding. Bill Cosby was right. That stuff rules.
– I’ve taken some vacation time with my kids. I’ve gone fishing and caught a ton of fish with my son (which reminded me of some great lessons on how to be a great team member). I went to San Francisco and showed my daughter every inch of the city. Oh, and we walked everywhere. Yeah. That sure was unpleasant duty.
And guess what? All of the above wasn’t that hard to do.
It has meant carving out an hour every other day to work out (and that includes taking a shower afterward). You can afford an hour every other day, can’t you?
It has meant not being lazy and going through the drive thru. It means buying different food at the grocery. Or looking at the labels on the food packaging and realizing how much crap is in there. Heck, I’ve so altered my mindset around diet I actually thought to myself the other day “Geez. I’m really pigging out today bigtime. This is my fourth yogurt this evening.” I’m not kidding. That thought honestly went through my mind. Who is this guy?
It has meant popping a couple of pills a day. Three of those pills are blood thinners or beta blockers to make sure my stents take. I should be off those soon. The other is a statin. It helps with cholesterol. A lot.
It has meant building some down time into my calendar. It has meant getting to bed on time – which is still 1130 for me and still up at 530 but I actually sleep well now likely because I’m tired from working out. See how that works?
It has meant looking at the stressors in my life and making a deliberate decision to not let them send me over the edge. It has meant remaining calm and putting things in perspective and focusing on the positive rather than the negative.
The benefits of these changes have been huge. On the day I had the heart attack, I looked like this:
I weighed about 215. I learned after the fact that my cholesterol was 266. I got winded after lifting only my fifth slice of pizza.
After a year of making those changes I mentioned above, I’m much better. Now I look like this:
My cholesterol is down 65% from pre-cardiac event levels. I’ve dropped 15 pounds. I feel much better. I sleep better. I can see my toes without bending over. I feel like frickin’ Batman – if Batman used a Blackberry.
Some of you might be looking at the changes and saying “that’s impossible.”
Order the salmon instead of the burger. One meal.
Buy some yogurt or baked chips or almonds or pistachios instead of chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, and Doritos.
Go for a walk. And then another. And turn that into a jog one day.
You have to start somewhere. I’ve been inspired to hear the stories of a few of you who have made changes because you saw what happened to me. I met with a client the other day and he told me since making his Mike-inspired changes he has dropped 18 pounds. 18. And he said it wasn’t that hard to do. No major lifestyle changes. 18 pounds. And I’ve had many people share their own success stories beyond his. I feel like I’ve had a positive impact on the world. Maybe I’ve even saved someone’s life without realizing it.
Look, I plan on being around for a long time. I have a lot of living left to do. I’ve made this a way of life and I’ve seen the benefits. I’m incredibly grateful for all the people around me who have supported me and encouraged me along the way. People who have given me a kick in the ass when I was whiny about working out. People who care about my well-being. I’m lucky to have people like that around.
If you’re one of those people who are already making changes, keep at it! It’s worth it and you can do it! If you need some inspiration, give me a call. I’d love to cheer you on! Share your success in the comments below. You’ll be amazed by all the other people who want to congratulate you and cheer you on too!
If you haven’t made changes and you need to, I ask – what’s stopping you? The only thing I can think of that’s holding you back is you. Start today. People like having you around too. I sure do.
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