My second chance at life came at 31 years old when a blood clot in my coronary artery resulted in a myocardial infarction (heart attack) that would have ended my life had my friend not convinced me to go to the hospital. As a healthy triathlete in the prime of my life, I was the last person anyone would suspect of having heart disease. I knew that I was at risk of heart disease because of my family history, but I didn't know that genetics is the most important factor and that the symptoms of heart attack are very different in women than men. I didn't suspect that the lightheadededness, indigestion, neck and shoulder pain and pressure in my chest that I felt in varying degrees throughout the 60-mile bike I ride that I was on that day had anything to do with my heart.
I was also falsely overconfident because my HDL, LDL and triglyceride levels were always normal, and my blood pressure has never been high. The truth is that one in four deaths in the United States are attributed to heart disease, making it the number one killer of both men and women and claiming more lives each year than all types of cancer combined.
After my heart attack, I had a full lipid profile test (Berkeley Heart Test). It turns out that my unique makeup of cholesterol (smaller, denser than normal) likely comes from both sides of my family. I now take a statin and aspirin everyday. I also was on a prescription blood thinner for three years.
I decided to attend the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I was trained in more than one hundred dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Drawing on this knowledge, I now coach others to create a completely personalized roadmap to health that suits his/her unique body, lifestyle, preferences, and goals. I also did additional research on an appropriate diet to prevent and reverse heart disease, and have been working towards a vegan diet. I am convinced that a mostly plant-based diet is critical for heart health, especially for those of us at high risk. Check out the book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.
I also realized that while I have always been phsyically fit and get plenty of exercise, my type A personality and level of stress was impacting my health. I made necessary changes in my life to prioritize my health and find work/life balance. I also discovered yoga to help me become more grounded. Yoga has allowed me to quiet my mind, learn how to breathe and find focus. Yoga has made me physically and emotionally stronger. I received my 200-hour yoga certification from Corepower Yoga in Boulder, Colorado, where I was trained in vinyasa style yoga. Now I can share my love of yoga and it's many benefits with others too.
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