We all talk about it.
We are going to start exercising tomorrow, start eating better tomorrow, start putting our health above that fast food we often call dinner because we are too busy with our lives tomorrow. We even make a national pastime out of it every New Year’s, resolving to take health seriously . . . tomorrow.
But what if tomorrow never comes?
I know that nightmare only too well and have relived it every day for the past two-plus years. As I was growing up in Tacoma in a happy family, I had no idea about heart health. As I look back, I can understand why I wasn’t concerned. There was no history of heart problems in the family. Yes, my dad was a smoker, but heart issues only happen to really old people, or so I believed.
Then that day happened. On a sunny day in January, the day before his 60th birthday, my dad died at work of a massive heart attack. It was just one day before a special celebration lunch was planned with the entire family. He was looking forward to seeing his grandchildren. We didn’t even get to say goodbye. It was just done.
We later found out that he had cardiovascular disease that went undetected. The loss is still painful today, but within my sadness came new strength and an awareness of how precious life is and how heart health should be a No. 1 passion for everyone.
Losing my dad showed me that you never know when a heart condition can strike someone you love. You also never know when your tomorrow will not come.
When I lost my dad, I never felt more helpless. Luckily, I started a new job right after our loss. The company, Union Bank, was a strong supporter of the American Heart Association (AHA) and heart health. Through its wellness programs and the support of the Heart Walks, my entire family was able to become involved. It helped us to heal and to celebrate my father’s life. It was a blessing.
I knew that through my loss I wanted to help educate others about heart health, and to play my small part in the battle against heart disease. My new job supported this new-found passion that still is as strong today as the first moment I became involved with the AHA.
My dad is proof that we cannot wait for tomorrow. You must take action! Here is your opportunity.
The idea is simple: Get up and get walking. On April 3, the AHA has its National Walking Day. Join them and Downtown On the Go – Walk Tacoma for a stroll at noon beginning at Wright Park in downtown Tacoma. Just meet by the lion sculptures on Sixth Avenue.
I never knew that walking is the simplest and single most effective form of exercise to achieve heart health, and walking for as little as 30 minutes a day has been proved to help reduce the risk of heart disease. I never knew that studies also show that for every hour of regular, brisk walking, life expectancy may increase by two hours. But I do now.
I also know that I will never take a simple walk for granted ever again.
Heart health is not an option. Make your tomorrow today.
Puyallup resident Maryetta Williams is a region manager for Union Bank and a supporter of the American Heart Association.