Growing up in East Tennessee you may not be offered fruit and oatmeal for breakfast – biscuits and gravy are more of a staple.
Dr. James Locher, Cardiac Surgeon at the St. Elizabeth Heart & Vascular Institute explained, “I think, like most people, I inherited bad lifestyle habits from my family that could easily lead to a heart disease and heart attacks.”
Dr. Locher’s father was overweight and a regular smoker – he had his first heart attack at age 59. At 42, Dr. Locher decided to break the cycle that had been created over generations in his family.
The decision happened while on a family vacation, “We were in Colorado and not only was I struck by the altitude, I was struck by the fact that I couldn’t keep up with my wife and kids because I was overweight,” added Dr. Locher.
After the vacation, he came home and threw away the boxes and cans of processed foods in his cupboard and started eating whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. He also started running. First, he ran a half marathon and recently he completed an ultra-marathon with a 50-mile run.
3 Tips to Living a Heart Healthy Lifestyle
Dr. Locher believes that if most people made three major changes they could break the genetics of bad habits they inherited.
- Quit Smoking – Never smoke again. If you follow a good diet and exercise program but continue to smoke, you will continue to develop heart disease.
- Follow a Heart-Healthy Diet – Throw all of the processed foods away. Eat the way God meant for us to eat – natural foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Salad dressings should consist of lemon and oil and not come from a bottle.
- Exercise – Start a walking program – walk 5 to 6 days a week. Start with small distances and build the distance as you gain strength.
Dr. Locher recognizes that breaking the cycle is difficult and with all the great regional foods you will sometimes slip. He adds, “Breaking the cycle and changing your diet is the most difficult part of living a heart-healthy lifestyle. The processed-food heavy diet most people follow today will kill them.”
Knowledge and education is the key to changing your habits. Join Dr. Locher on February 28, from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. for Heart Matters: An Evening Your Heart Will Love to learn more about heart health, prevention and treatment of heart disease. Register online or call (859) 301-9355 (WELL).