A mother-daughter pair make time for heart health

Ask the women participating in the 2018 Her Heart Challenge, and you’ll receive a beautiful bouquet of stories about the spark that fueled their interest in change. Here, we invited Paige Edmonds and Evonne Amaya, a mother-daughter duo participating in the program, to tell us a bit about their journey to the Challenge.

What inspired you to apply for the Her Heart Challenge?

Paige: Mom was the one who inspired me to join in the challenge. We do just about everything together and this was no different. We attended the Love Your Heart celebration in February 2018, and during the presentation, we identified with many of the women who had gone through the program that year. Neither of us take enough time for ourselves. With us doing the challenge together, we thought it would be a great way to support one another in addition to the awesome support we have with the other ladies. 

Evonne: I was invited to attend the Love your Heart event last February. Coming from a family with heart disease, I thought it was important to include my daughter. I even invited my mother, who lives in Michigan. One of the participants from last year shared her story with me. As she recounted all she’d learned and experienced, I thought to myself “This is something I’d like to do.” The women in my family tend to do more for others than for themselves. This was a wonderful wakeup call for all three of us. I lost my father last November. As I sat by his bedside, I wondered if he had taken better care of himself if he would have lived longer. I’m going to be a grandmother soon and I want to be around for my grandchild for a long, long time. 

Before joining, did you experience a turning point in your personal health journey?

Paige: When I was 23, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I didn’t take it seriously until my doctor looked at me and said, “If we don’t get this under control, you will damage your kidneys and you may need to go on dialysis.” I realized I was way too young to not take care of my body. I have so much to live for; I was ready to make a lifestyle change. 

Evonne: Losing my father made me realize how important it is to take care of myself. My dad ate things he wasn’t supposed to and had very little daily activity or exercise. There was always an excuse. Too often, I found myself doing the same things. I was eating on the run, foods that are quick and not so healthy. I’ve been on high blood pressure medication for more than 20 years. Now is the time to take control and do what I can to lead a healthy life. 

What are you hoping to achieve through the challenge? 

Paige: I think we both want to make a permanent lifestyle change for the better. I want to establish healthy habits so that it doesn’t feel like something I have to do, but rather something that comes naturally to me. I have been ready to make this change and the Challenge is giving me the tools to help me along the way.

Evonne: Paige is right. We need to make a permanent change. I’m hoping to create healthy habits that stick as part of my everyday routine. I’d love to lower my blood pressure to a healthy range. 

What are your biggest obstacles?

Paige:  Potatoes! I think my biggest obstacle has to do with making smarter food choices for my health. I’m busy and always on the move, so for me grabbing something unhealthy seems more convenient. But if I take the time to make a plan for those moments when I have to grab something quickly, I think I can be successful. 

Evonne: We do love our french fries. I do a lot of driving for my job, and it’s hard to make healthy food choices on the run. Family gatherings are also difficult for me to stick to eating healthy. I convince myself it’s just this once, but then it snowballs from there. 

What does it mean to you to be able to do this together?

Paige: I am so honored to be on this journey with my best friend. Like I said earlier, we do just about everything together so its easy to support one another with making healthy choices. We are growing and learning together and we are there to remind each other to take time for ourselves.

Evonne: We hold each other accountable. We share a very unique mother-daughter relationship, and being in this together allows us to learn the tools needed to achieve our goals together. It’s important for me to know I’m helping Paige start these habits at an early age. 

What characteristics does Evonne/Paige possess that will help her succeed?

Paige: My mother is the strongest person you will ever meet. Once she sets a goal, she will exceed it every time. She is persistent and determined to accomplish anything she puts her mind to.

Evonne: Paige is a free spirit who brings so much joy and laughter into our workouts, whether she’s singing at the top of her lungs or yelling out the jeopardy answers while doing the elliptical. She finds happiness in everything she does. She’s a natural cheerleader who pushes me to finish strong. 

What has been the most surprising thing about the Challenge so far?

Paige: For me, the most surprising thing is that there are so many popular trends that individuals perceive as healthy that really are damaging to your body. Talking to a dietician can help you weed out unhealthy fads.

Evonne: During our overnight, I was so surprised at the number of women facing similar stressors to my own.  Stress plays such a huge role in our health. Sharing our stories created such a strong connection right from the start. 

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?

Paige: I think the biggest lesson so far has been the we as women need to do a better job of caring for ourselves as well as encouraging each other. There are so many women that are in the point of there lives where they want to make a change but they don’t feel supported or doubt they will be successful. In the Challenge, we have one another to lean on for support and ideas. It is a community of women who have a common goal and nothing can stop us. 

Evonne: We’ve learned how important it is to take time for ourselves. I’ve really learned to be more mindful and take the time to really think about what I’m feeling. 

What would you tell other women who want to take control of their own health?

Paige: I would tell them to surround themselves with people who are going to encourage them physically, mentally and emotionally. Making a change to a healthy lifestyle isn’t just about working out and eating right. It’s about having a healthy mind, body and spirit. My favorite saying is, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” It’s ok to take time for yourself so that you can help care for others. 

Evonne: One day is today. Too many times I hear women say, “One day I’ll start taking time for myself.”  “One day I’ll make better food choices.” “When I have time I can get more exercise.” We only get one shot at life, so one day should be today.

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