Health & Fitness Advice

A 304 lb awakening helped a 40-year old optimize his heart & run the Boston Marathon

I have followed Gary Snow’s fitness efforts on Instagram for some time now. Once I learned that Snow had previously recognized his many risks for heart disease early and worked to optimize his heart health, I just had to include his story in my new book, Optimize Your Heart.

Below you’ll find select extracts from Chapter 4, where I use Snow’s efforts to turn motivation into goals and, finally, healthy habits.

For Gary Snow, an IT technician for a law enforcement agency, it was a realization that he had reached his highest weight of 304 pounds, had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and even a fatty liver—all at the age of just 40. “My doctor told me that all my blood work indicated that I was not only morbidly obese but in severe danger of a heart attack,” recalls Snow. “I had to make a change or else I would likely not live to see my kids finish school or get married.”

Gary Snow started running races, from 5Ks to full marathons, to keep himself motivated towards better heart health. “My overarching goal, I think, is to continue to live healthy to be a good example to my children and those around me.” Snow continues, “As far as immediate goals, I always try to keep a race in front of me. Having something to train for helps keep me focused.”

“Just know that there are no shortcuts. The hardest part is taking that first step and keeping yourself determined to be a healthier you,” encourages Snow. At last check, he has lost over 110 pounds in the last six years, and has run both the Boston and New York marathons. Snow realized that, just like running a marathon, you often find even the most difficult journey is better when you use the help of others. “Surround yourself with a supportive network and lean on them when you need to.”

Great job Gary! Inspirational!

You can follow in Snow’s footsteps–running the Boston Marathon is optional–by picking up a copy of Optimize Your Heart.

If you have a story that you think will be an inspiration to others, please let me know!

Don’t let COVID-19 vaccine trials distract you from getting a flu shot

There’s no doubt that the coronavirus has our full attention in 2020. In fact, recent news seems to be focused on the latest status of the COVID-19 vaccination trials. While you continue to practice social distancing, mask-wearing, and hand-washing, don’t forget to consider a flu shot–especially if you have a history of heart disease or stroke.

The CDC warns:

Studies have shown that flu illness is associated with an increase of heart attacks and stroke. A 2018 study found that the risk of heart attack was 6 times higher within a week of confirmed flu infection. These findings were most pronounced for older adults and those experiencing their first heart attack. Additionally, a 2020 study that looked at more than 80,000 U.S. adults hospitalized with flu over eight flu seasons (2010-11 through 2017-18) found that sudden, serious heart complications were common and occurred in one out of every eight patients (~12% of patients).

The good news is that getting your flu shot can not only reduce the general symptoms and risks associated with the flu but can result in a 10% lower risk of a heart attack in patients after hospitalization!

I know that some folks worry about the potential side effects of getting any vaccination. I, for one, will be watching closely for any issues with the new COVID-19 vaccine, but the flu shot is proven to be safe, year after year. In fact, the American Heart Association is urging anyone with a risk for heart disease or stroke to get their flu shot, as catching the flu can weaken your ability to avoid COVID-19.

I got my flu shot this year. A sore arm and 24 hours of lower energy were worth it to help avoid the greater dangers of catching the flu.

As always, I share only the advice that I feel is important to know. Speak to your doctor if you have any concerns.


Why is it important for your heart health to check your blood pressure for hypertension?

November 4th happens to be Check Your Blood Pressure Day, but why is it important to check your blood pressure for hypertension?

In my new book, Optimize Your Heart, I walk readers through many practical ways to reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke, and high blood pressure is one important risk to focus on. Here’s an extract:

“Hypertension, more commonly known as high blood pressure, increases your heart’s workload. This causes the heart’s muscle to thicken, become stiffer, and function abnormally. It can increase your risk of a heart attack, stroke, and congestive heart failure, but with the right diet, exercise, monitoring, and medication, you can keep your blood pressure in line with the recommended 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic) maximum.”

So, what can you do to reduce high blood pressure?

  • Consume less added sodium in your diet
  • Drink more water
  • Exercise more
  • Reduce stress
  • Speak to your doctor about medication

These are just some of the ways that you can lower your blood pressure to avoid a heart attack or stroke. For more detailed advice and guidance, be sure to pick up a copy of Optimize Your Heart!

Don’t be scared that Halloween candy will ruin your diet

Halloween Candy

Ah, Halloween. That one day of the year where we stock up on bags upon bags of delicious candy that we plan to give out to the endless kids that knock at our door.

Except, they often don’t.

And, in 2020, they likely won’t.

Then we’re left with all that delicious candy, just staring at us each time we open the pantry door looking for a “healthy” snack. We eat some. We eat some more. Then we decide that we have ruined our last few weeks or months of dieting and so tell ourselves we may as well give up and go back to our unhealthy eating habits.

Halloween ruined everything!

True story? It doesn’t have to be. Halloween is indeed just one day out of 365 where your diet can go off the rails. Even if you factor in Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other major holidays, you’re still looking at over 350 days of the year where you can be mindful of what you eat. That leaves you with a 95%+ success rate!

In other words, eat your Halloween candy, enjoy it. And then get right back on track with your healthy eating plan. If you have WAY too much candy or still worry you may revert back to your old diet, here are some tips to help:

  1. Set aside one day’s worth of candy and then throw the remainder away.
  2. Too extreme? Freeze the remaining candy for another day or celebration. Frozen candy takes time to thaw and so less tempting.
  3. Donate your candy to a local mission or shelter.
  4. Use a small piece of candy during a lengthy or vigorous workout. A quick boost of carbs to help reenergize you!

I still eat candy. Not every day. Not much. I usually eat the bite-size, not the family size. I remind myself of the calorie content and ask myself if I’ve earned it or truly need it.

Don’t feel like you need to give up Halloween and its delicious excuse for a candy treat. Just be sure you remember this is just a treat, don’t trick yourself otherwise!

Helping Duke Health spread stroke and heart health awareness

Duke Health photo of Andy Beal

I have been working with Duke Health, one of the most respected hospital systems in the country, spread the word about heart attack and stroke awareness, prevention, and treatment.

Here’s an extract from their feature piece:

The stroke was preventing blood from reaching the left side of Beal’s brain. Doctors refer to this as an occlusion. Beal needed treatment fast. He was transferred by helicopter to Duke University Hospital in Durham where the stroke team was waiting.

“We talk about it like this: time is brain,” said Dr. Fernando Gonazalez, a Duke vascular neurosurgeon who specializes in stroke care. “Every minute you have an artery that is occluded, you’re losing two million neurons,” “No other emergency in medicine is as time-dependent as stroke.”

You can read the full article here:

If you want to learn more, don’t forget to pre-order my new book, Optimize Your Heart.

Read the intro to my new book for free & learn how to help the American Stroke Association on #WorldStrokeDay

Optimize Your Heart

My new book, Optimize Your Heart: A practical guide to lowering your risk of a heart attack or stroke, hits Amazon on October 29th. That happens to be World Stroke Day and that’s not a coincidence.

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Optimize Your Heart is a blend of my personal story with simple, proven steps anyone can undertake to improve their cardiovascular health and reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke. If you would like to learn more about how Optimize Your Heart can help anyone, of any age, then look for the link below to download a free chapter.

Once you see just how valuable Optimize Your Heart can be, you can go ahead and place a pre-order for the Kindle version right now! It will be downloaded to your Kindle or tablet on October 29th. You can also wait until October 29th and purchase the paperback version of Optimize Your Heart.

Either way, you will be helping the American Stroke Association as 50% of the profits from all pre-orders and first day sales will be donated to help fund Stroke treatment, research, and awareness.

Click to download the introduction from the book Optimize Your Heart

Download the introduction from the book Optimize Your Heart.

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