At 300 pounds, Nancy Book was in severe pain and grave danger.
The 30-year-old registered nurse had nearly died from a condition that caused recurrent hemorrhaging. Her skyrocketing blood pressure and insulin resistance waged war on her heart and blood vessels. Pain in her knees and back tortured her.
It wasn’t until a physician made a simple — if rude — remark that she finally started to snap out of her unhealthy downward spiral: “If you weren’t obese, you wouldn’t have all these issues,” the doctor said flatly.
“It hurt,” Nancy recalls. “But at that moment, I looked in the mirror and had to face my own mortality. I was like an addict who hit rock bottom.”
She turned the painful words of that defining moment into her rallying cry. Nancy committed on that day in 2004 to “take ownership of my diet and lack of physical activity.”
Before she could drop weight, she conceded, she had to drop excuses: “I’d say losing weight is hard … I have medical problems … it’s genetic … and on and on and on,” said Nancy, whose family history of heart disease includes her father’s death in 2008 from sudden cardiac arrest at age 55.
She then consulted with her doctor, joined a weight loss program and got physically active.
“The first time I worked out on the elliptical, I went three minutes and thought I was going to die,” Nancy said. But she stuck with her six-days-a-week regimen and ate healthy. Now, 160 pounds lighter, she runs in 5Ks and cycles. She’s off blood pressure medicine and her cholesterol is at a healthy level. And as an American Heart Association volunteer, she’s helping others in her hometown of Wadsworth, Ohio, to reach their health goals.
“I enjoy living now,” she said.