Utah Family Gets Heart Healthy, Despite Life's Challenges

Pitcher_Family-Bell Canyon-My Heart Challenge

Taylor writes:

Hello out there to all of you following the “My Heart Challenge 2016: Family Edition”. We are the Pitcher family. We have really loved being part of the challenge this year and it has had such a big impact on our family. We are excited to share our journey with you and some of the great things we have learned along the way. 

We will start off by introducing ourselves and telling you about our family's journey to a heart healthier lifestyle. Shasta (my wife) and I (Taylor) are the parents of 4 awesome kids. Our oldest Kylee is a book worm and loves Harry Potter. She also enjoys arts and crafts and playing with her sisters. She is also a very talented dancer. Avery is the next oldest. She is our athlete and loves any kind of sport. She has played soccer, basketball, softball, and flag football. She also enjoys ice skating, and cooking with mom. Makell is number three. She is a great mix of her older sisters. She is creative and smart as well as athletic and full of energy. She loves to play outside with the other kids in our neighborhood. She is also her little brothers second mommy. Last, but certainly not least is Corbin, the only boy of the bunch. He is Mr. Smiles and has one to share with everyone he meets. He loves to explore and get into everything. He also loves to ride his bike and is also a big helper in the kitchen. He loves superheroes and his favorites are Batman and Captain America.

Shasta and I both were athletes growing up. I played football and wrestled in high school. Shasta played softball in high school and also was a very good volleyball player growing up. As we have entered into our adult years we have tried to remain active. I have coached high school football at several high schools in the Salt Lake Valley for about 10 years. Shasta has also helped coach high school softball as well as help with our girls little league softball teams. It has been an enjoyable experience to teach and watch these youth players succeed. Our family also enjoys spending time together and doing things outdoors like camping, hiking, and bike rides.

Our journey to a heart healthier lifestyle began almost 5 years ago. Makell our youngest daughter had just been born and we had just bought our first house. I was also at the heaviest I had ever been at around 260+ lbs. As part of my work's wellness program we are required to do a wellness screening each year. After getting mine done I sat down with our in-house physician and was told that my blood pressure was extremely high and that if I expected to see my daughters grow up and get married I needed to make a drastic change in my lifestyle. I made a commitment at that time to start eating right and exercising and try and lose some weight. Within a year and a half, with Shasta's help and motivation, I lost almost 70 lbs. I maintained that weight loss for almost another year and a half.

During that second year and a half that I was maintaining a healthy weight we found out Shasta was pregnant with our fourth child, Corbin. We were thrilled. At our 18 week ultrasound we found out we would be having our first boy. Then things took a turn. During that ultrasound we also found out that our baby boy may have a defect with his heart. A few days later it was confirmed, our son would be born with a very severe form of congenital heart defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. He would require at least three lifesaving open heart surgeries. The first of these would happen within his first week of life.

After Corbin was born our life was turned upside down. His first month of life was spent in the hospital at Primary Children's. He had his second open heart surgery at almost six months old. Between his first two surgeries he was in and out of the hospital for various reasons and for varying lengths of time. In total of his first six months of life nearly half of it was spent in the hospital.

While going through this experience with Corbin our family's healthy lifestyle, for lack of a better term, went out the window. We were eating and sleeping at the hospital and getting very little exercise. Slowly both of our weights began to creep upwards. I gained back 45+ lbs of the weight I had previously lost between the time that our son was born and the time that we began the My Heart Challenge 2016: Family Edition. 

Since the My Heart Challenge began we have been given the opportunity to meet with experts in the fields of family psychology, nutrition, and exercise physiology. We have learned some great things to help our family be able to maintain a heart healthy lifestyle even through life changing experiences like what we are going through with our son. We have gotten back on track and are taking huge strides to get back to where we once were. We will be posting over the next little bit sharing about some of the things we have learned that will hopefully help you if you are ever faced with your own challenge in life. Here's to maintaining heart health for life!