Better Heart Health Means More Birthdays... and That's a Good Thing

By Jason M Carlton

There's a sort-of consensus out there that once you hit a certain age, you don't really look forward to your birthdays. Especially when you hit 40, 50, 60 or higher. David Larsen, one of the firefighters competing in the 2014 My Heart Challenge, celebrated his 40th birthday this past week. Since this week also marked the half-way point in the 100-day competition, he shared a few thoughts around birthdays and heart health. 

Turning-the-big-40-David-Larsen
He wrote,

So there I was, cruising along with the first half of the competition under my belt, doing extremely well with my diet and exercise program and boom… birthday weekend. So I turned 40 a few days ago, something I never dreamed I would actually make it too as a young, punk kid. Having a “special birthday year” I decided to have a fun week of a few parties (a few too many adult beverages), a trip to the casino (and the evil buffet), and relaxing a bit (taking a break from exercising). I am not going to lie, I had a little set back that week, gaining back two pounds, but I think it was worth it to have a little break.

Looking at my life and turning the big four-O, I have realized how important this opportunity of the My Heart Challenge is in order for me to reach other birthday milestones like 50 or 60. Being overweight, having high blood pressure and having a disastrous family history of everything from diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and cancer, I definitely needed a change in my life.

Having the ability to learn and make healthy lifestyle choices has been a great blessing. Any behavioral and or lifestyle changes are not easy to accomplish; in fact it is downright hard to be honest. But like me, sometimes it is hard to get that spark or reality check needed to start the change. I never took advantage of the resources available via the internet or websites, healthy living insurance programs or even Peer Assistance Programs that were readily available. All I can say is if you have a resource available; try to take advantage of it!

Well, now that I am refocused and ready for the second half of the challenge, I am eager to see what further progress I can make. I have already done so much more than I thought I could accomplish, and I am ready to do even better in the weeks to come. Good luck to all my fellow firefighters, the My Heart Challenge: Play at Home contestants and to anyone else out there who has made the choice to change their life for the better. Keep up the great work, don’t let the little road bumps derail or stop you, and of course stay on track with your continued healthy life.