Davis, who was growing worried that she might end up a cardiac patient herself, made the phone call. Though well-versed in treating heart attacks, she had no idea how to strengthen her own ticker, or how to use weights and resistance to build calorie-burning muscle mass. At 44, her new life was about to begin.
It’s never too late to try or to change your life, said Davis, who has lost 125 pounds since 2009. “Anything is possible. Life is just way too short to wear a T-shirt to the pool.”
Davis, of Midwest Heart Specialists, plans to run the Chicago Marathon in the fall with her husband, Steve Kovar. In February, she finished a half marathon in New Orleans. Here she explains how she got motivated to lose weight:
JD: Congrats on the turnaround. What was your “a-ha!” moment?
AD: It wasn’t just one moment but a building of several. As luck would have it, I was not only fat but I don’t have the greatest family history for heart disease. Why was I so special that this wouldn’t happen to me? I have a wonderful husband, Steve, and two super awesome boys, Benny (8) and Sammy (5), and I want to be around for them and to share our lives together. I also want to have my children have a healthy legacy. You don’t realize what your weight makes you give up until you get active and healthy again. Your whole attitude changes from “I can’t do that” to “Hell if I can’t!” You will pass these habits along to your children so that hopefully they can lead happy, healthy and fulfilling lives.
JD: How did you put on weight? Did you realize it at the time?
AD: The time pressures of my job, family, stress and two babies left little time for me to think of myself. Sound familiar? Denial is pretty common when you are trying to multitask. There are a million excuses but one day I realized where Plan A was taking me and it wasn’t a good place. You just have to make time for lifestyle changes.
JD: In addition using a personal trainer what else did you do to lose weight?
AD: I started eating small frequent meals throughout the day to increase my metabolism. I brought all my food to work. The only thing falling from the sky at work is cookies and Butterfingers. It really is all about calories in calories out and exercise. But make the calories you eat count for something. Make them healthy, nutrient-dense food that gives you satiety and also increases your metabolism.
JD: Before your weight loss did you try to eat healthy foods?
AD: I really think I was as much in denial as the rest of the country. I would never eat breakfast. Then I’d be starving and eat a really late lunch. Usually something not very healthy, but quick, and then have a really late dinner at night. There are many ways to get fat. You don’t have to eat a lot of food if it’s really highly caloric. You can be a fat vegetarian as well.
JD: What food did you give up?
AD: You don’t have to give anything up. Just change the ingredients a little and the method it’s prepared, plan ahead and control portions. You will be golden!
JD: How did you find time to exercise?
AD: You can make time to do anything if you want it badly enough. I always remember that quote from the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”: “Get busy living or get busy dying.” I don’t mean to be a downer but if you change your life, you will be happier in the long run. You just have to take the first step and try.
JD: What did you learn about healthy living in medical school?
AD: Nothing. I’m so glad we have all the high tech to save people from heart attacks and heart failure and try to give them a good quality of life. But do you really want to utilize those options? Maybe a little low tech is in order, like diet, exercise, weights and resistance training and stress relief. Medical school taught us to treat heart problems. Prevention? Not so much.
JD: What do you tell your patients now?
AD: Trust in the process. Have a little faith in yourself and your abilities. Stop the negative self talk and take charge of your life again. You will never regret it. If I can do this, anyone can. Life is very precious and precarious. Anything can happen on any given day so take life on to the fullest. Enjoy your gifts and get going!
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