Two years ago, Star Jones woke up on an operating room bed after undergoing open heart surgery at ago 47. “They took my heart out, stopped it for 22 minutes and put it back in—although some people from the Celebrity Apprentice don’t think they did put it back!” Jones says.
The lawyer, author and TV correspondent co-hosted the National Go Red for Women Red Dress Dash on Friday at Macy’s in New York City with actress Elizabeth Banks and former Project Runway competitor and fashion stylist Nick Verreos. Jones, Banks and Verreos teamed up to increase awareness about the number one killer of women: heart disease. After the event, we caught up with Jones, who raised more than $160,000 for the American Heart Association (AHA) during her fifth place finish on last season’s Celebrity Apprentice, to get her top three tips for a heart-healthy lifestyle. You may want to take notes—wise lifestyle choices can reduce your heart disease risk by as much as 80 percent, according to the AHA!
- Eat your heart out. While Jones made big nutritional changes after her weight loss surgery in 2003, open heart surgery inspired her to clean up her diet even more. “I lowered my sodium intake and eat a high-protein diet,” Jones says. She avoids processed breads and sweets and now satisfies her bacon cravings with turkey rather then pork.
- Keep raising the bar. “Since my surgery, I gave up my sedentary lifestyle and do a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day. For 2012, my goal is to include at least three days a week of high-intensity cardio. Right now, I’m loving SoulCycle because I feel like I’m pushing my heart as much as possible, and I’m really pushing myself in every way,” Jones says. She found an instructor she loves, which makes attending class even more fun. “I feel good every time I walk in the door of the studio and every time I walk out,” she adds.
- Sneak in exercise. Rather than relying solely on the 45-minute group exercise class as the way to challenge her heart and burn calories, Jones builds fitness into her day. “I walk the 12 blocks to the SoulCycle studio before class and walk the 12 blocks back home after,” Jones says. “It’s like a built-in workout!”
To learn more about Go Red for Women and take your cardiac vital stats, click here.
More from FITNESS:
- The Heart Disease Prevention Guide for Your 20s, 30s and 40s
- 10 Food Swaps to Make Your Heart Healthy
- Elizabeth Banks’ New Film: Funny, with Lots of Heart
Check out this funny Go Red for Women short film “Just a Little Heart Attack” that Elizabeth Banks directed and starred in to remind all women: A heart attack can happen to you.
Last night we were at the NYC premiere, where we got to meet the six amazing Go Red Women spokespeople for 2011. They reminded us that even very fit and health-conscious women are at risk. Check out their inspiring stories.
And don’t forget to watch Elizabeth’s film and pass it on to five ladies you love to remind them that heart disease is the number one killer of women.