Meet the Genovesi-Stidd Family - My Heart Challenge: Family Edition Competitors

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Jill Genovesi writes...

Hello Utah, and anyone else reading about my family’s first step to a healthier lifestyle. I’ve decided to start with introducing you to my family and why we have chosen to take this step. We are a family of five, two parents and three children. Each of us has a health issue that can be helped, if not eliminated, with proper diet and exercise, but when we have tried to diet or exercise on our own we have run into some speed bumps.

My husband is morbidly obese. He has heart and lung issues as well as sleep apnea. The last time he tried to get into an exercise routine he jumped in too hard and too fast. He was riding a street bike uphill to Sugarhouse Park, around the park and back home each morning. He was enjoying it, but gave himself an umbilical hernia in the process. The surgery kept him down for 3-4 weeks and he did not return to the exercise. He is a vegetarian, but is not very fond of vegetables. His go to foods are pizza and coke.

I am also morbidly obese. I have a few migraine disorders. One can only be “cured” if I lose 100 pounds. Another can be helped with diet, such as avoiding nitrates, caffeine etc. At this point I have daily migraines. My last attempt at exercise was also cut short. I was enjoying hitting the skating rink 3 days a week after work. When I was finally comfortable enough I invited my family to join me one afternoon. Of course, that was the afternoon I decided to fall, and tore my right hamstring and dislocated my left knee. That was the end of my exercise routine. I also have a very high chance of becoming type-two diabetic. My father and grandfather both had issues because of their diabetes. The day before I found out my family was accepted to be part of the My Heart Challenge, my doctor called me to tell me that I am pre-diabetic. To me, that was the scariest thing I’ve heard about my health. It is time to change now. It is almost too late.

Our oldest is 19. At the age of 14 he was diagnosed with high blood pressure. He has had blood work and kidney exams, cardiograms, and all the other tests the pediatric nephrologist wanted him to take. There is nothing physically wrong with my son. He has primary hypertension, meaning that it can be totally controlled with diet and exercise. Until then, it is being controlled with medication. He also has migraine issues but they seem to be related to the blood pressure issue. He is allergic to dairy, so when we diet we have to remember to find meals without cheese, or cream.

Our middle child is 14. He is also having intermittent high blood pressure. They have run a few tests on him, but since it is intermittent they have not started him on medication. Right now he is the most active of all of us. He skateboards daily. He would love for the rest of us to be as active as him. He has sleep issues. His doctor suggested, and he seems to sleep better if we load him with proteins before he goes to sleep.

Our youngest is ten. She has inherited my migraine disorders. Helping her learn healthier eating and exercise now will save her from having many migraines in the future.

When I saw that the My Heart Challenge was for families this year I knew I had to try for it. We need guidance on how to do this properly. We need to know how to exercise without injuring ourselves. I also need to find ways to feed my family healthy meals with three different dietary needs. I don’t think this will be the easiest change, but I am so excited to be a part of it. We need this change.