Meet Jennifer who has been a beloved member of Jazzercise Victoria since September 1st, 2012 but has been in the Jazzercise world for much longer than that! Jennifer always has a big smile on her face and is game for whatever is thrown at her during class whether it’s a hard-core Interval class, a Strength class, or whatever the flavour of the day is. Since joining us Jennifer has logged-in 806 classes which is a very reputable average of 12 classes per month over the 65 months she has been with us. BUT, also in that period of time Jennifer has been off gallivanting around the continent for 21 of those months SO she has really averaged 18 classes/month! Currently Jennifer attends classes six days a week and we couldn’t be happier seeing her smiling face in class so frequently.
In January of 2016 Jennifer suffered a heart attack and was away from us for 4 ½ months recovering. Since that time we have seen her make a complete health transformation and, because it’s heart month, I wanted you to hear her inspiring story. Grab a glass of wine and read-on!
Thanks to you I have a fitness routine that works for me and keeps me coming back for more!! I love Jazzercise and your enthusiasm and energy and the sense of camaraderie you have created. Just how do you manage to work out so hard and sing at the same time? I can barely breathe some times.
It’s been two years since my heart attack. What a wakeup call that was. Why wasn’t I paying attention before? I knew the “rules” – lose weight – that never seemed to happen; exercise – which I was doing; reduce stress – what stress, I’m retired; healthy diet – most of the time, but . . . We all know the rules, it’s the getting started and staying on track part that is the hard part.
Were there warning signs? Of course, there were warning signs. But I am a woman, I am invincible. Just work through it that’s what I told myself. The first signs were several months before the actual “event”. I no longer had the same energy level. Occasionally I would struggle with stairs or hills and find it hard to catch my breath. To quote a friend of mine, I assumed it was “old age and body rot”. After all I was going to be 63 on my next birthday.
Eventually the lack of energy turned into shortness of breath, hot sweats and chest pain. Imagine an elephant sitting on your chest. By this time, I was paying attention. Finally it got so bad it resulted in a couple of trips to the emergency room. Wow, you say chest pain and you are head to the front of the line. Nothing shows up in the testing though the pain continues. FYI, women are notoriously difficult to diagnose when it comes to heart issues. The tightness in the chest increased over a period of about a month, the shortness of breath was continual and I could no longer ignore it. I couldn’t walk across a room without stopping for a rest.
I was fortunate. The last trip to the emergency resulted in a diagnosis. It was what they call a Widowmaker which is blockage of the artery that supplies blood to the left side of the heart. A fairly routine procedure and I had a stent put in forcing open the artery and allowing the blood to flow.
The support network for cardiology patients is tremendous. You have access to all sorts of support groups – one for women only, how to stop smoking; dieticians to help you change your eating habits, follow up care with specialists. You only need to put up your hand and ask for help.
Everything can be a learning experience and here are the lessons I learned:
- In my case, change your lifestyle. Continue with the exercise (you have to find something that you love or you won’t do it) and lose weight. I will always be grateful to Sue Park for starting me on the Weight Watchers path. Over the period of a year, I reduced my weight by over 80 lbs. – more than 1/3 of my starting weight. I love their food tracking app and the bar code scanning tool. Their program worked for me. Mostly because it taught me about portion control and what foods constitute a healthy, weight conscious diet. I still love pasta but not very often. And I monitor my weight closely. If it heads in the wrong direction, I make sure I am following the WW plan and take it off.
- Do not drive yourself to the hospital when you are having a heart attack. You have a greater chance of survival if you call an ambulance. The paramedics know what they are doing and then you don’t have to worry about where to park your car! Don’t worry about the sirens disturbing your neighbours.
- My three boys are amazing in a crisis. I was so grateful they were around to hear what the doctors were saying because they heard what I didn’t. Your mind tends to shut down and doesn’t take in all the information. They took charge and made sure the cat was well looked after.
- I am surrounded by an amazing group of friends. There are people in my life who are so very supportive and caring. I feel so fortunate to have them and cherish them.
- Life is precious. I have never had a significant health problem before and tended to be rather “lazy” about taking care of myself. No longer is that the case. Yes, I slide occasionally but I try to make sure I am doing the right things so that I can be around to see the grandkids grow into amazing adults. I will be 65 this year and feel stronger and healthier than I have in years.
It is not often I meet someone who is so dedicated and committed to her lifestyle choices. Jennifer is the epitome of strength and determination. As you can see from the pictures, Jennifer is a beloved member of our Jazzercise community and because of her hard work, we can look forward to her being a part of our group for many years to come!