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Rising Above Heart Disease #MyChangeOfHeart

I’m teaming up with the American Heart Association to raise awareness about Heart Failure (HF) and their Rise Above Heart Failure initiative. Stay tuned to find out how you can join the movement.

I wasn’t a very active person growing up. I rarely played outside, I wasn’t on any sports teams, and I dreaded gym class because I might break a sweat. I was happiest when I was at the mall or in my bedroom with my nose buried in a book.

And if it wasn’t bad enough that I was anti-exercise, I became addicted to soda, and I ate pizza like it was one of the five major food groups. I stayed thin by using the binge-and-starve approach to dieting.

Let’s just say health and wellness wasn’t exactly a high priority for me in my younger years.

As I grew older, my body proved not to be as resilient as it was in my youth. I developed some medical issues that weren’t easily diagnosed, and after I exhausted the doctors and the medical tests and the pharmaceuticals, I turned to whole foods for healing. I stopped my soda habit, our family started eating a more wholesome diet, and somewhere along the way I discovered the joy that can only come from… you guessed it! Exercise.

Running, to be exact.

Jo-Lynne-Running

Running became an escape, my outlet, and a newfound source of confidence. Soon I was running local 5K races, and before I knew it, I signed up to run a half-marathon. I trained diligently, and my hard work paid off. I crossed the finish line just under my goal time, and I was on top of the world for weeks.

Unfortunately, my euphoria was short lived. I had to take a considerable amount of time off due to a series of injuries, and life just wasn’t the same without regular exercise. For a while, I tried to keep my spirits up and stay active with strength workouts, but eventually I became defeated. I didn’t look forward to getting up in the mornings anymore, and I found myself feeling very grey.

Yes, grey. People talk about feeling blue, but blue is the color of the sky when the morning is ripe for a run. Grey is the color of listlessness and defeat. I was decidedly grey.

I couldn’t bring myself to give up on my passion, and after months of physical therapy and rest and treatments, I recently began running again.

It’s like someone turned the lights on after the electricity was out for a week. Suddenly the world seems more colorful, and I’ve started waking up early again, excited to face the day. But best of all, I feel healthy and strong. I have more energy, and I’m happier. I’m a better wife and mom when I’m getting my daily exercise fix.

Some people probably think I’m crazy for pursuing an activity that has caused me so much pain and heartache, but my family gets it. My husband and kids have seen me at my highest of highs and lowest of lows, and they are happy that I’m running again because we all know the saying: If mama ain’t happy, NOBODY’s happy.

But it’s not just about me. The example I set by seeking a healthy, active lifestyle has a huge impact on my children. They are proud of me. I can see it on their faces when I come back from my morning runs and from the way they greet me at the end of a race.

half marathon

But I’m also setting the example of a mom who takes care of herself. I want my girls to grow up knowing they are worth the time and effort to keep themselves healthy and strong, and I want my son to be the kind of husband who encourages his wife to pursue her passions and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I am motivated to keep moving so that I live the longest and healthiest life that I can — not for me, but for them.

Heart disease runs in my family, and I am determined to beat the odds. It may not always be running. Perhaps it will be walking, biking, hiking, or yoga, but I will keep moving as long as I can.

Living an active lifestyle along with eating a wholesome diet is the best way to prevent health problems down the road, and that’s why I’m happy to help spread the word about the AHA Rise Above Heart Failure initiative.

HF is a chronic, progressive condition in which the heart is unable to pump enough blood around the body, and it will impact one in five Americans in their lifetime. HF is implicated in one out of every nine deaths in America, and it’s consuming national healthcare dollars at an increasingly alarming rate. Through the Rise Above Heart Failure initiative, the AHA hopes to change the course of HF in America by providing awareness, education, and support.

One way you can help is by sharing a “Heartie” on social media with the hashtags #RiseAboveHF and #MyChangeOfHeart. Tag your friends to encourage them to join the movement. Here’s my Heartie — featuring the most precious people in my life, my family.

Small steps help us rise above heart failure. Post your Heartie and spread the word! #ChangeofHeart

I’ll be sharing my Heartie on my social media channels to help spread the word. I hope you’ll join me.

Another awesome tool to help spread awareness is this Thunderclap Page, set up by the AHA. It makes it easy to share on Twitter or Facebook, and it also includes this inspiring video.

Visit www.heart.org/riseabovehf to learn more about HF, share your experiences, and access tools and resources to help you or your loved ones rise above HF through small lifestyle changes.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of American Heart Association. The opinions and text are all mine.

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