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I had my first heart attack 80 days before my 47th birthday.

I didn’t know I was having it.

Three days later, I had the second one.  The pain in my chest made it a tad more clear.

So, off to the ER and the next day they put a stent in my LAD.

All was well.

For a while.

On October 24, 2003, I awoke about 3AM to incredible pain, gasping for breath, thinking, “This is it.”

The EMTs arrived in minutes, rushed me to Gwinnett Medical Center, and I was met by one of my Cardiologists.

He took one look and said, “Take him to St. Joe’s.”

That was Friday AM.  All day Friday, I was poked, prodded, tested, pestered, and medicated.

My physician came in and said the four scariest words I’d ever heard, “You need bypass surgery.”  He added, “You have four blocked arteries, and we’re keeping you alive.  You can’t wait, if you do, you’ll die.”

What’s a boy to do?  I let them crack my chest!

After re-routing my heart, I was told a few changes would be needed.

Culinary catastrophe, bad habits, lack of exercise, and genetics all created a Cruel Cabal that caused a Cardiac Conundrum.

I have Coronary Artery Disease.  It’s a family trait.

One of the ‘suggestions’ was exercise.

Really, I’m not athletic, I never played sports, running – oh please!, walking seemed to be the only option.

One thing I’ve done well all my life is shop.  So, I hit the mall.  Yeah!  I said it, I’m a mall walker.

And I’ve been one for about seven years.

It started with a simple comment from a friend.  I mean, why listen to a physician?  But, after complaining of gaining a bit of weight, a friend of mine said, “You know, if you walk two miles a day, three days a week, you’ll lose 16 pounds in a year.”

I thought, “anyone could afford to lose 16 pounds.”   So, I hit the mall.

Discover Mills Mall in Duluth, GA.  It’s an oval mall that is 1.1 miles around.  I started with two miles a day, and lost 12 pounds the first month.  I changed nothing else.  No special diet, no gym membership, nothing…just walking.*

Discover Mills Duluth, GA

Encouraged by the weight loss, my new waistline, and a better feeling over all, I kicked it UP to three miles.

A year later I was 32 pounds lighter.

I went from this:

UP and Zola when I was 30 pounds heavier!

…to this:

Now.

And I’m healthier than I’ve ever been.

There are added benefits as well.  I’ve made new friends – one of whom has lost 60 pounds!!, added readers to my blog, stayed healthier, and just generally feel better.

So, when I came to ‘the place where I work’ a while back, and my BOM told me about the Carmax Walk Across America program, I was ‘in’ immediately.

After all, it’s a nationwide competition, and every location needs an “Ace in the Hole”, right?

So, five to seven days a week, I walk 2-3 miles a day BEFORE I go to work.  And that doesn’t include the steps I take running around the store socializing, gossiping, pretending to work working.

So, when you get UP today, after reading my blog, drinking your Redneck Latte, and getting it all together, hit the road, the sidewalk, the treadmill, or the mall.

So, come on, join me, walk  your way back to health, walk it off!

*if you’re looking for a place to walk, Google is a great place to start.  The mall distances are usually listed by the mall name, or by city.

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