Mom’s Message

My mom, Darlene, didn’t let the fear not knowing where to start stop her from trying. She joined No Boundaries, a local “Couch to 5K” running program in the winter of 2010 and learned to run. She often asked me for advice and was a huge proponent of John Brigham’s writing in The Courage to Start. Mom was a penguin and she was proud of it! We ran many miles and races, including her first 5K,  together as she came to love running and the way it made her feel – happy, healthy and confident. She battled cardiac concerns and a family history riddled with heart problems with running, eating right and exercising nearly every day. Mom used to always tell me she wanted to “be a runner,” and it wasn’t until she started running – one step at a time – that she realized she too, was a runner.

This is her message and just because she is no longer here, she wouldn’t want me to stop spreading it.

My journey to good health started November 1, 2007 when I was scheduled to have a cauterization of my heart after a stress test and a CT scan.  During this procedure, the doctor inserted three stents in the artery they call “the widow maker” – because a severe blockage can lead to certain and sudden death.  My artery was 80 percent blocked.  While I had no apparent symptoms or heart problems, a family history of deadly heart conditions lead me to get my own heart assessed just to be safe.  A routine assessment very well could have saved my life, and I have since come to believe that it truly does pay to be your own advocate when it comes to your health – only you can initiate the steps to take care of yourself and get healthy!

After the surgery, I completed cardiac rehabilitation and laid out some goals I wanted to accomplish to further improve my health.  For example, I wanted to lose weight and I wanted to jog – a lifelong aspiration of mine.  I had tried to run several times in the past, but felt that I didn’t know how (breathing, pacing, good form, proper fuel and clothing, etc.), and was never successful.  My oldest daughter, Sara, got me involved in the No Boundaries 5K training program through Fleet Feet Sports.  Last summer, I not only learned to run, but trained to run a 3.1 mile race over a 10 week long program.  I found that with a manageable training schedule and helpful coaches to answer my questions and provide me with the support and encouragement I needed, not to mention the support of fellow beginning runners just like myself, I was on the track to success this time.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of hard work especially with the extreme heat last summer but, I was determined to get to the START line and then the FINISH line!  Quitting was never an option for me. On August 19th, 2010, I completed my first 5K in under an hour, with the rest of my training group – and my goal was just to finish!  Crossing that finish line, I gained a sense of achievement that I have never quite known before – it truly changed my life and as I enter 2011 a much healthier person, my next goal is to run and finish a 10k.

In August of last year, I also joined Weight Watchers.  Combined with making smart food choices, drinking water, and continuing to run and participate in ZUMBA regularly, I have successfully lost 20 pounds on their program. Another goal crossed off my list and an extreme sense of accomplishment! 

However, the ultimate test for me came when I had routine blood work done in December 2010 to evaluate the health of my heart.  When I read my results I knew all my hard work had finally paid off!  In five months’ time my total cholesterol dropped 9 percent; I raised the HDL (good cholesterol) 19 percent, lowered the LDL (bad cholesterol) 14 percent, and dropped the triglycerides by 43 percent.  For the first time since my stint procedure, I can’t wait to see my cardiologist this coming March.  The doctor was striving for my LDL (bad) cholesterol count at 70 percent and I got it lower than that.

So, between Zumba, running, eating a healthy diet and exercising at least five days a week, I am so proud of myself.  A person once commented to me about how slow I am with my running and while my feet may be slow, everything is working together for the results that are undoubtedly keeping me healthy.

My message to anyone that is thinking or trying to change their health, it can be done!  I am living proof.

– Written by Darlene, Spring 2011