The fact that I had narrowly avoided death hit me like a ton of bricks. I was afraid I was going to have a heart attack all over again. During my last check-up, I could hear the voice of my doctor echoing back to me. "Your blood work is concerning. You're supposed to start watching what you eat a little more closely."
"Oh yeah, sure thing," I said. "I'm going to start cutting off junk food and eating more vegetables after the holidays." Then the winter turned into a spring that turned into a summer, and, well… I was in a hospital bed with my frightened husband next to me, and the doctor calmly told me how lucky I am to be alive.
While my husband was in the hospital looking after me, I would periodically check his phone to make sure that our babysitter was given the proper instructions so our children were looked after.
I never expected him to be flirting with a woman 20 years younger… But honestly... I couldn’t even blame him. I mean, she had slender long legs, a “perfect figure,” she might as well have been the cover girl for Victoria’s secret.
I don't think I've ever felt any worse.
The rest of the time in the hospital was a blur of blood tests and blood work. They recommended that I use blood thinners to help reduce the risk of another heart attack. Oh yeah, and I had two other arteries that were more than 85 percent blocked, so if I didn't follow their instructions, I 'd be back in this hospital room. I was devastated. I had nearly left my husband a single father, just because of my eating habits. I flashed back to the moment I found my own mother in the living room, barely able to move with chest pain. She's made it through that heart attack, but she's never been the same.
Right then, I swore that I would never do that to my children and my husband. I was going to change my life and I was going to be healthy and well for them.
Spoiler Alert: My new determination only lasted two and a half weeks.
The thing they're not telling you about weight-release after 40.
I've been a machine for those two and a half weeks: choosing the right food to eat, drinking plenty of water, exercising every other day. I was feeling unstoppable!
Until, I stepped back on the scale at the doctor's office.It was a follow-up appointment, and I was so excited for the doctor to tell me how well I was doing.
“Well, it looks like you actually gained a pound or two here.”
“WHAT?! "In the office, I answered in anger. "I've been doing everything right since I was released. What happened to me?”
"Well ..." he shrugged, barely looking at me through the charts in his hands.
“Sometimes that’s just what happens when women your age want to start releasing weight.”
“WHAT?” I shouted internally. My doctor called me very old.
At the time, I was only 42, I didn't feel great about that, and his comment didn't help. "Diets and exercise can be quite effective for women in the 20s and 30s, but sometimes for women over the 40s, we see the opposite effect," he said.
Containing my frustration, I asked, "So what can I do to make progress towards the release of this weight? Once again, my doctor shrugged. "The only thing I recommend is to continue with what you've been doing. You might run a few more miles every day. Let's hope it works and we'll see the results,” he said. Oh, MILES?! I could barely get up the stairs in my home without getting winded up. How did I start running a few miles a day?!
My entire world came crashing down again. I met my husband in the lobby, crying all the way back home. If I wasn't able to release this extra weight, I felt like another cardiac episode was inevitable. But if my body doesn't cooperate with me...what else can I do?
The Phone Call.
Back to junk food and laziness.
My husband was trying to support me, but I could tell him he didn't know how to console me. My girls couldn't understand why mommy was so sad all the time, and why she couldn't even play with them in the yard.
I got a phone call from Beth during this dark depression. It's been more than 10 years since I saw her name appear on my caller ID. Frankly, I thought she lost my number when she moved to California with her new husband.
But why would she call me now?
"Hey girl, I heard about what happened," Beth said when I picked up the phone. We haven't talked about it in 10 years, but we got right into it. She and I have always been close to each other, even if we don't talk on the phone often.
"Yeah, things haven't been so great lately. It feels like my body conspires against me. It's horrible, "I said.
"Listen, I'm in town for the next couple of days. Let's get together. I've got something I think is going to help you.”
At that time, the thought of going out to the world was almost too much. All those people in a restaurant staring at the "big whale" trying to maneuver between those tiny tables. I shut down those thoughts. I needed the strength to keep going. Maybe seeing an old friend and hearing about her life would help me get away from the funk I was in.
"Okay," I said. "How about Angelo's dinner at 7 p.m. tonight? "It’s a date!” she said, then she hung up.
I asked my husband if he knew that Beth was back in town for a few days. I thought maybe he had seen her and asked her to call to cheer me up. It seemed strange that she would call out of the blue, but sometimes the Lord works in mysterious ways, I said to myself.
The 10-Second Ritual That Changed Everything.
When I got to the dining room, Beth said she was inside. So, as I walked in, I scanned the tables for her. Where was she now?
Then I saw her, what the heck?!
Beth was sitting at the counter table, but it wasn't the Beth I remembered from high school. Beth and I were both struggling with our weight in high school.
We would try fad diets together, try jogging together, and try to cook healthy things every once in a while. Nothing worked for us yet, but we were stuck together and supported each other in those tough years.
But the Beth I've been looking at here ... well ... she's transformed into a healthy, gorgeous woman. She must have been 40 or 50 pounds lighter, and she and I are the same age.
What was going on here?
Beth saw me, and she asked me to come over. She gave me a big hug and told me how good it was to see me. I'm going to be honest, it was great to see her. As the evening went on, we caught up with life and what had happened since we last saw each other. Eventually, we had to talk about my cardiac episode.
"It was the most frightening thing Beth ever happened to me," I told her. "And now the doctors say that I have to release this extra weight, but my body has been fighting me on it. In fact, since I left the hospital, I've gained weight if you can believe that.”
"Honey, that's what I believe. That's why I was going to meet you. Not just to catch up, but to show you something that I think could help,” Beth said. "How can you help?” I asked.
"Just wait until they get the bill, and I'm going to show you."
"Well, this is cryptic," I said. "Is that what you're trying to show me part of how you got into such a great shape?”
"It's not just part of it, it's the only reason I'm still breathing," Beth replied.
Turns out, Beth had her own mortality brush a few years earlier. It was the same thing. She had been overweight, ignored medical advice for years, and had an episode like mine. The diet and exercise worked a little better for her, but after a few weeks she stalled to lose her weight. That's when she started doing something she kindly referred to as her "ritual."
"Once I started doing a ritual after a meal, it was like something I clicked on in my body," she said. "Suddenly, I was losing weight and making progress towards my goal like crazy."
We were almost finished with our meals, so it would soon be time for her "ritual."
"Can I watch you do that?” I asked Beth nervously. It really seemed too good to be true, and I didn't want to get my hopes up. "Of course," she said.
When the waiter came with a check, Beth asked for an extra glass of water, and there was no point in what she did with it. Beth could see that I was skeptical.
"Tell you what," she said. "Check out this video, I'm going to text it to you. It's going to tell you everything you need to know. Believe me, by the end of it, you 're going to wish you've been doing this for the last 20 years.”
"Ok," I said. We paid for our meals and headed for our cars. "Thank you, Beth," I said as we hugged our goodbye. "This is what I really needed."
"Thank you for watching that video. Don't forget. Seriously."
By the time I got home, everybody was in bed. My husband had left a note on the counter that he hoped I would have had a good time and there would be leftovers in the refrigerator. I was sitting on the couch to unwind a little with my phone before I brushed my teeth. There was a text in Beth.
"Let's see what the whole video is about," I thought.
It was an hour later, before I knew it, and my brain was reeling from the knowledge shared in the video. Could a little ritual really make a lot of difference? My eyes have been opened to new possibilities.
I was hopeful for the first time since the hospital that I could have the body I 'd always wanted.
And now after dropping 3 dress sizes a month later, I haven't looked back!