In 2013, I weighed around 300 pounds and realized I needed to change if I wanted to be here for my sons. I started working out and dropped almost 50 pounds. Nonetheless, on March 13, 2019, at the age of 39, I had a widowmaker heart attack.
All of a sudden, I was drenched in sweat. It felt like a ton of bricks had bust me in the chest. I worked in a fire station training room with EMS in the building, and I was able to make it to their office. One of the medics took my blood pressure and called an ambulance. At the hospital, I coded twice. Next thing I knew, I woke up in the ICU the next morning. My doctor told me that he had been doing this work for 21 years, and he had only seen 4 people (I made 4) make it through what I had gone through and live.
I was put on heart medications, went through (and completed) cardiac rehab, and I got a defibrillator placement because my heart was only operating at 25 percent capacity. And that’s when I realized I really needed to get my diet in shape.
I was raised down South, eating mostly fried foods—especially fried chicken—and adding sugar to everything. When I had the heart attack, I decided not to eat meat any more, to prevent another health crisis. I started using MyFitnessPal to track my food, and I bought a food scale to weigh what I was eating. I educated myself on nutrition and how to prepare food in this different way.
At first, I totally struggled, but I kept telling myself that my health was something I could control, even though nobody else in my family was into health and wellness.
I believe we’re all made for greatness, and I realized that that doesn’t mean everything will be sunshine all the time, but it does mean we can do hard things and go through hard situations and overcome. Since then, I’ve gotten down to 233 pounds. I’m not happy that I went through what I went through, but I am so much healthier now than I’ve ever been. Never neglect the power of taking care of yourself. The work that you are putting in today could be saving your life tomorrow.
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