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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The heart of the matter

I got so caught up in all that Biggest Loser excitement, that I forgot to tell you about the Go Red for Women luncheon I attended on Friday. Of course it wasn't all the big to-do that the luncheon was for me last year. This year, I went as a volunteer.

I worked at a table to encourage women to get an idea of whether or not they are at risk for heart disease. There were three of us working the table, so we took turns walking around to visit the information booths. I had my cholesterol tested -- mine was very good! I tried whole wheatberries and a mustardy beet salad, both of which were way yummier than they sound. I had make-up airbrushed onto my face. I had my blood pressure taken -- it was high, so I need to check up on that. Oh, and I spoke to a crowd of 1,000. Maybe that's why my blood pressure was high.

The American Heart Association in Indianapolis is holding another Better U challenge, with a bit of a twist this year. Instead of starting it in January, as the program I participated in last year, this one is kicking off on March 7 and much of the focus of the luncheon (besides raising money), was on encouraging women to participate in the free, online program. (You can too!) Before this year's challengers were introduced, the AHA had asked me to address the audience and tell them what I got out of the program last year.

I wasn't really nervous to talk to all those people. I was more nervous about being up there and not looking like a supermodel. Most of what I had to say was about the things I learned from the experience. But I did 'fess up to the struggles I've had over the past several months with weight and exercise. I just tried to be real and encouraging. I ended my 5 minutes of limelight with this:

The program is called Better YOU for a reason. YOU can change your life. Start with just one thing. Switch from regular soda to diet. Go for a walk after dinner instead of heading for the couch. Make an appointment with your doctor if it’s been a while since you’ve had a check-up. Stop smoking. The BetterU Challenge made a difference in my life and in my family’s life. And it can make a difference in your life, too.

I thought that speaking to a ballroom full of people was going to be the highlight of my day. Far from it. About 30 minutes before the crowd was seated for lunch, those of us speaking were supposed to gather in the ballroom for a run-through. I arrived a little early, so I scouted out my table to put my swag bag and purse down. One of the catering staff, Lisa,  was setting the table with glasses of water. I asked if I would be in her way if I stayed there. She assured me I would not.

Then she looked at me and she said, "You know, it's weird that I'm working this event today. My mom is having heart-pacer [pacemaker] put in next week in Texas."

Lisa got a bit teary-eyed, so I stepped over to her, introduced myself, and gave her a sideways hug. I told her I imagined how hard it must be to be so far away at a time like that. I asked what her mom's name is -- Maria -- and told her that I would keep Maria in my prayers. And now I'm asking you to do the same. Maria's surgery is scheduled (or at least it was on Friday) for tomorrow.

After the luncheon was over and I was packing up my things, Lisa came over to me and said, "Thank you, Amy. You've inspired me to try to make some better choices and do something about my weight. And thank you for being a shoulder for me."

As I gave her another hug -- full on this time -- I thought, it didn't really matter that I had just spoken to 1,000 women. I was just grateful that I'd had the opportunity to talk to this one.


Mike Magan said...

Aim - It's not easy to admit missteps let alone embrace them. But if you would have been too embarrassed to attend because you gained a little weight, you would not have had the opportunity to be of service to Maria.

Thanks for putting it out there and reminding us to do whats right and that by helping another were also helping ourselves.