Utah Firefighter Reports on Third Week of My Heart Challenge

By Jason M Carlton

West Valley City Fire Department firefighter Mary Lindsay-Vonk is determined to win the 2014 My Heart Challenge. But she'll admit there are many challenges to overcome on her road to better heart health. Read more about her journey as the third week comes to a close, and help cheer her on as she fights to win the Challenge. 

Mary-thats-how-I-roll-now-image

So we are 3 weeks into this heart healthy challenge and BOY has it been a challenge! I thought I was a pretty healthy eater and savvy with healthy food, well... not so much.

Thankfully this program has us see a nutritionist Kari that's been keeping us on track and always willing to answer even the silliest questions. I would recommend looking at your insurance provider and seeing if you can meet up with one it’s invaluable! They have lots of knowledge and the good thing about Kari is, she isn't pushing the Tofu or the ‘eat nothing yummy’ diet, because I like ‘yummy.’  

With that being said, life has thrown a couple of major road bumps lately and I am an emotional eater!  Geez, I wanted to stop EVERY day at a fast food joint and get my comfort food binge on… AND I did one day. I stopped and got a Big Mac and fries. WOW! Can I just tell you how crummy I felt afterward and it didn't even taste good while I was eating it. I probably should have stopped eating it at that point, but NO way!  Hmmmm… who would have thought that a fast food junkie would be saying this? All that healthy eating has changed my taste buds already. Weird.

My first blog I talked about the Cauliflower Pizza crust.... It was very good. I did find the more garlic and seasonings that were added, the more satisfying it was.  I do have to say also that I really have tried Tofu.  Who would have thought a firefighter would be eating TOFU? It was actually tasty; it tasted just like the food I was eating, Vietnamese Pho (good stuff!). HOWEVER the veggie bacon, not so much! As the boys at the station pointed out "that's just a sin and are you nuts?!?".

On this adventure we have also been advised to exercise.  I'm a firefighter, so I've got this down, right?  Yeah. Again, I needed some guidance. I met with Megan who works at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute as an exercise therapist. She's Awesome! One of my goals has been to complete a 5K without stopping and she gave me a running workout that I only have to do three times a weeks and it’s totally doable. BUT I still am not fond of running! Maybe I'll get there some day. 

I have been asked by a few people what is one piece of advice that I could give at this point. Well here it is: FIND A WORKOUT THAT YOU LOVE TO DO and I have finally found it! Firefighters love to be challenged. I found Cross-fit. Down and Dirty Cross Fit at that. Yep. Love the name and that's how I roll. Getting challenged to the point of sweating my guts out. Oh yeah. Bring it on! 

When I started a few months ago I was breathing hard in the warm up. Yes, you read that right – the warm up. For the first time a week ago I did an RX work out, which mean I did it as written, no modifications. Have I been able to do one since? Nope! But that day I did! You have to click with the trainer too. Nikki is my trainer, and she’s a rock star. If you don't mesh, you don't go! I was worried about being judged and that hasn't happened. I've had days I just want to quit and Nikki and Carrie and all the other people working out encourage you; no judging.  

Last week I had a couple of big fires that we just worked our guts out for about 5 hours. I felt great! All this healthy eating and exercising is what’s making the difference!

Goals for the next month

1.  NO visits to the fast food joints, even if I'm having a crappy day

2.  Keep running

3.  Three or more different colored veggies at EVERY meal