SPECIAL OFFER: - Limited Time Only!
(The ad below will not display on your printed page)
My Healthiest Age: 39
It started as a typical day at the office in March 2008. One minute I was leading a meeting in a conference room, the next I went into sudden cardiac arrest. I was defibrillated seven times, and doctors later discovered that a valve in my heart needed repair. After two years I underwent open-heart surgery.
As a frequent gymgoer, it drove me nuts that I could do only light exercise, like walking or using the elliptical machine on the lowest setting -- especially because my husband, Paul, was training for a Tough Mudder at the time. I vowed to complete the obstacle race one day, too.
When doctors finally gave me the OK to return to my routine, I got winded simply walking up a flight of stairs. But I was determined. I started working with a personal trainer named Susan. We hit it off, and she promised to run the race with me. I set small targets -- do one real push-up, run two miles. Whenever I doubted myself, Susan reminded me that I had survived heart surgery; surely I could manage one more pull-up.
Four years after my cardiac arrest, Susan and I stood at the starting line of my first Tough Mudder. Thirteen miles of running, angled monkey bars, and icy plunges later, I was overwhelmed with exhaustion and emotion. Since then I've completed four adventure races. They make me realize how far I've come!
Listen to Your Heart: Women under 50 are twice as likely as men to die of a heart attack. "They're more likely to take a wait-and-see approach," says Nieca Goldberg, MD, the author of The Women's Healthy Heart Program. Beware of these sneaky signs: