Amy Culver - The Queen of Lean
October 02, 2009    

Dad's Story

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Amy Culver

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Inspiration:  Dad's Story

It's been a very busy couple of months for me, so I'd first like to apologize that this Newsletter is so long in coming.  The reason I've been "away" so long is that at the end of July my Dad had to have emergency heart surgery – a triple bypass.  His story is what I'd like to share with you today.  Oh, and I'll save you the trouble of having to scroll to the end, he's fine!

For approximately the first 50 years of Dad's life, he basically ate whatever he wanted to.  He didn't even have a tendency to gain weight.  He smoked and did not exercise although he did have a somewhat active job.  He was a copy machine service technician for most of his working years.  In any case, he rarely had a desk job where he sat a lot, but he did sit in Southern California traffic for many hours a week, smoking and drinking Pepsi (NOT diet).

His preferred dinner style is meat and potatoes, or should I say, meat and potatoes with his salt and butter.  Trust me, you MAY have seen someone who used as much butter and salt as my Dad, but I can assure you, you've never met someone who used more.  The man would salt sausage patties if you let him!

And, predictably, it led to the usual problems:  High Blood Pressure and Arteriosclerosis.  In fact, in 1986 he had to have arterial bypass surgery in both legs and one kidney.

Ok, so this woke him up a bit, but just a bit.  He tried to do better, but couldn't stay consistent for very long.  A big problem was that he found too much joy in food and not enough joy in other things.  He quit smoking a few times, but always went back to it as well.

Then there was a huge change in his life.  After my mom passed away, he met and married again.  Though all life changes have their struggles, he has now found joy in things other than food and smoking.  In 2003 he quit smoking and in 2004 he started exercising regularly.  The food problems?  Well, he still tried, but again, not with consistency.  He does work to try to keep his weight reasonable, but really loves his meat, potatoes, butter and salt.  In fact, we went to a Brazilian Steakhouse for his birthday last year.  I'm pretty sure they lost money on his meal.  The amount of meat that man ate was beyond belief.  It was like watching Fred Flintstone devour those giant Brontosaurus Ribs!

Well, last July he got wake up call #2.  He has been working with a cardiologist for a few years and they've been watching him.  He takes nitro tabs occasionally for chest pain, but he was having some fairly persistent recurring pain for a couple of days.  One day and a few tests later, they whisked him off to surgery.  He had over 90% blockage in his left main artery.  This is the artery that supplies the heart with blood.  If it is cut off, you die.  In fact, it is nicknamed "The Widow Maker."

So, why am I telling you all of this?  Well, it's my hope that no matter what your current situation is, that you can find some education and inspiration from his story.

If you are stuck in bad food habits, but have yet to develop serious problems, I hope to inspire you to make changes now.  Neither of Dad's surgeries was easy for him to endure or recover from.  My intent is to convey to you his incredible love for unhealthy foods to give you some understanding of what it would take for him to even consider making lifestyle changes.  If he can do it, anyone can.  Don't let yourself get to the point of needing surgery before you make the changes.  Frankly, not only is it not fun, it's potentially fatal.

If you are already at the point where you have done damage, I'd like you to know that there is still life and hope for you to improve your health.  Dad turned 71 in August.  Before his surgery, he was working with me at the gym doing 30 minutes of cardio 5 times a week and some strength training.  Because he had been exercising regularly right up to that point, his recovery was much quicker.  He was back at the gym in 3 weeks.  It's now been 8 weeks since his surgery and he's back to 30 minutes, 5 days a week and we've added in 15 – 20 minutes of strength training twice a week.

In the hospital, they told us that his survival chances had a lot to do with his will to live.  He has a very strong will to live.  He loves his life and wants more of it.  We did have some struggles with the salt issue, but he is working on it and we are all trying to be patient and supportive.

Look for the joy in life aside from food and other unhealthy habits.  It's never too late to start living a healthy lifestyle and reaping benefits from it.  I personally know living proof.


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