Howie's beating heart disease with the help of the Y.

28 December 2012

A retired police officer, Howie lived a relatively active lifestyle but didn’t watch what he ate or have an exercise regimen. In late 2005, Howie had been experiencing what he and his family physician thought was a normal bout of indigestion and acid reflux; his EKGs were normal. But, to be sure, his family physician referred him to a cardiologist for further testing. He underwent a cardiac stress test and was immediately admitted to the hospital. Less than a week later, he had a quadruple bypass and has the scar to prove it. "My cardiologist told me that life is all about choices. I can choose to eat pizza and fatty foods and not take care of myself. If I didn’t change, I would see him again in a year for another surgery. That was my wake up call." After his surgery, Howie's doctor referred him to the Sentara Clinical Fitness program at the Hilltop Family YMCA for long-term therapy and rehabilitation. Through this program, Howie was introduced to the Y and became a member.

Now 64 years old, Howie works out five times a week, alternating between cardio exercise on the elliptical and strength training circuits. "I wake up every morning and excuses for why I shouldn’t go work out enter my mind. But then I look in the mirror and see the scar that runs down my chest, and I know I have to keep going to be here for my family. I wouldn’t give it up for anything."

It's not just his scar that keeps him going. The staff and members at the Y motivate him and keep him accountable. They call Howie if he misses a few days, and he is sure to let them know when he's going out of town. “Without the Y, I wouldn't still be exercising. I go to the Y because of the friendships I have made and the encouragement I have received along the way."

Howie started his journey to health in the Sentara Clinical Fitness Program at the Hilltop Family YMCA. The clinical fitness program is also offered at the Mt. Trashmore Family YMCA.