A Story from the Heart - featuring Bernadette L. Harris
About a year ago, I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. I had recently been diagnosed with hypertension, was overwhelmed with work, and was not nurturing a healthy relationship with food.
I knew I had to make a change when I recognized that the stressors I was dealing with impacted both my physical and mental health – and could be risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The fear of not being around to see my daughter get married and have babies drove me to make a lifestyle change. If I didn’t rethink the way I was living my life, I understood that I could eventually face life threatening health issues.
I took small steps towards heart healthy living, rethinking my relationship with food and adjusting my attitude towards exercise. Changing my diet and sticking with it was huge – I love to bake, cook, and eat, and I found prioritizing exercise to be difficult.
Swapping out baked goods for fresh fruit when I wanted something sweet and having nuts instead of a whole bag of chips when I wanted something savory made a huge impact on my weight loss and heart health. Instead of long cardio workouts, I focused on weights and ab work, took swimming lessons, and made it a habit to meet up with friends for weekly walks.
By finding food swaps and physical activity routines that worked for me, taking it day by day, one step at a time, I was able to commit to the lifestyle changes mentally. When I stepped on the scale for the first time after two months of change, I cried when I saw how much progress I made, and that motivated me to keep going.
It all starts in your mind. When you commit to do doing better, hold yourself accountable, and find community to support you, you can do anything you set your mind to. Today, I can do anything, by saying yes to things that serve me well, and no to things that don’t.
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