Healthy Heart Challenge
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Dreena Lawrence-Gray

Dreena Lawrence-Gray is 45 years old, a mother and busy manager with Local Government. But Dreena knows the impact of heart disease; just three years ago she had a heart attack.

Dreena admits that she was overweight, stressed and wasn’t taking care of herself. "I needed to set priorities and slow down, as I worked full-time and also part owned a roller skating rink, had a teenage daughter and several committees within the community," she said.

Dreena was alone when she felt the first symptoms of heart attack, but she didn’t recognise the warning signs. Instead, she bundled-up and went to bed. But she couldn’t rest and felt a compulsion to get up and call her mother. It saved her life.

Dreena’s mother called an ambulance and came right away to help. Dreena clearly remembers being returned to her hospital room after having angioplasty a stent inserted in an artery that was fully blocked.

"My parents were waiting for me. I was overcome with emotion on seeing them because, during the stent process, I remember thinking that if I was going to die, I wanted to see my Mum, Dad, my partner Russell and my daughter Rijana. They were who I wanted to be with when the time came, and here was my Mum and Dad waiting for me; it was a good sight," Dreena said.

Now, despite a hectic job in which she manages 220 school-crossing guards, Dreena takes time to eat properly and exercise. She has also noticed that heart disease is a very real issue in her workforce, affecting at least 10 percent of workers.

"Everyone needs to learn about heart disease. I always thought a heart attack happened to elderly people. I was so wrong," said Dreena Lawrence-Gray.

Dreena sees being involved in the Healthy Heart Challenge as a great way to stay healthy and keep improving her own heart health. As well as being active every day, Dreena has chosen the 'Improve everyday nutrition' goal.
Week 3 update
My Healthy Heart Challenges are to eat nutritious food and be more active every day and, as always, I have the best intentions. However June 1 started with a bang - literally! Some thoughtful driver crashed into my daughter’s car, thank goodness she was ok, but the car was a write off in the eyes of the insurance company. I was very proud of myself as I didn’t reach for the chocolate under all the stress!

I have made a promise to have three meals a day and not snack in between and, so far, so good.  I love winter because soup is on the menu and I always make my own; that way I can control the salt. Veggie soup has been a constant for me over the last few weeks. I have kept myself active by walking everywhere throughout the day (within reason) and, where time permits, I walk for 30 minutes per day.

My work has been busy and my stress levels are up, but I am in a good space and will continue with my challenges and enjoy every day!

Week 6 update

I do love winter, I must admit even though it is cold, I can rug up and keep warm. Since my heart attack I feel the cold more than I did before, so when I am out and about people look at me like I belong in Antarctica. But I don’t care, I am alive!

Living on the Mornington Peninsula, I have taken advantage of the beach nearby and talking my poodle for walks along it on windy days; pure bliss. Being active – tick!

Winter is soup weather and I love soups, but they must be home made. I also love cafes that serve soup an excuse to eat out. Eat nutritious meals – tick!

Currently, I am helping my roller skating club fundraise by selling chocolates. It’s a huge temptation and, whilst I hear them calling me to eat them, I am very proud to say NO. Well, maybe just one; I am human after all.  Enjoying the challenges each new day brings to me.
Week 9 update
The last few weeks have been a struggle, as it has been very cold and I have been very busy with my work. But I have stayed on track.

I managed to do 30 minutes of exercise a day, and take the long way when walking in my daily tasks.

My eating habits have been great as well; soups and low fat yoghurts are my favourites.

I have been able to use the walking time to reflect on things as well
, as I plan to continue on this track of eating healthy and regular exercise.

A healthy mind and healthy heart equals a healthy life!