Healthy Heart Challenge
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Wendy Paulsen

Wendy is a 54 year old woman who is a support worker on the Sunshine Coast.

Wendy found out that her health was out of control about 10 years ago when she went to a new doctor who ran a series of blood tests and found that her cholesterol, homesteine levels and blood pressure were extremely high. He punched the numbers into a computer and calmly told her that she had a 75% chance of having a fatal or non fatal heart attack within 5 years if she did not make some drastic life changes.

The first thing Wendy did was put herself on notice to give up smoking, which she did on 1 January the following year. However, that made her put on a whole lot of weight, which of course has created another set of problems as she enjoys her food so much now. Wendy gained 25kg which she has yet to lose. Wendy does feel a lot better about herself, but does worry about the weight gain, which she feels she cannot seem to shift. Wendy is still on meds to keep her blood pressure and cholesterol under control and does worry about the long term effects also.

Wendy’s mother also had a heart attack before 40, so is invested in helping others and herself work towards improving their health before it’s too late.

Wendy has chosen the 'Lower high cholesterol levels' goal.

Week 3 update
I have several high risk factors so I need to be committed to my heart health. If not for being well informed I may have only found out when I had my first heart attack like my mother did. I understand the importance of getting people to know the risk factors and doing something about it.

I need to exercise more but I have had a stress fracture which has taken a long time to heal, however over the past three weeks I have lost just over a kilo in weight through gentle exercise.

My doctor has reduced my cholesterol medication on trial so I am taking extra care with my diet choices. It has been good to really think about what I am eating both for my cholesterol and weight and I would really like to stay on the lower dose of medication. That will be checked in five weeks…

My advice to fellow challengers is that I think it is very hard to stick to a strict diet all of the time so I go with 80% good and 20% “bad”.
Week 6 update
I have been on cholesterol lowering medication for 9 ½ years. My last blood test showed that the medication may be starting to affect my liver. The doctor has halved my medication for 5 weeks to see if there is any improvement. I am taking plant sterols and using plant sterol fortified marg and cheese. I am really hoping that the next test will be better and I can stay on the lower dose of Lipitor.  I had that test taken this morning.

Over the past 3 weeks I have lost another 3 kilos of weight and joined up to my local Curves.

I am now able to exercise more freely, I had my first visit to Curves this morning and am so looking forward to working out there. The staff are so friendly.....

It was my birthday yesterday so as a reward I forgot the diet for the day. However I did take my dog for a walk was her birthday also!

A challenge for me has been that I have been on holiday for the past two weeks and feel quite lazy - I think I am more motivated when I am working.
To those trying to achieve a similar goal as me, stay focused and do not be too hard on yourself.
Week 9 update
I joined up to my local Curves the day after my 54th birthday and have been going 3 times a week and thoroughly enjoying it.

I have really enjoyed going to Curves, the staff are so helpful and friendly and I feel really positive each time I leave. It has been tricky learning to use the equipment correctly but I am getting better each time.

As a reward I treated myself to a make over at the hairdresser this week!

Unfortunately my blood test came back and showed that my HDL levels had decreased slightly and my LDL had increased. Also my sugar was a little high so a follow up blood test will be done in four weeks time.

Just remember, be kind to yourself and eat healthy. Don’t miss an opportunity to sneak in a little extra exercise i.e.: take the stairs, jog with the dog, do some stretching, pick up the pace when walking, play music while cleaning the house and dance.