A year ago my life was a mess. I was exhausted and wasn’t taking care of myself, and it was chaos at home! My husband, Jonathan, and I weren’t getting along. I would give our 14-year-old daughter, Akyra, and 21-year-old son, Marcus, chores to do and if they weren’t done when I got home from work, I would snap, saying: “You didn’t do the dishes, now I’ve got to do them!” My weight was up to 170 pounds. I was eating Chinese food and fried chicken — everything that isn’t good for you. And I started having heart issues.
“The final straw came when I had a heart attack.”
The final straw came when I had a heart attack last May. I was 41. The doctors said it was stress-induced. I realized if I didn’t do something quickly, I would not be alive to see my kids get married. My husband had already won the Challenge, and I decided to start myself.
The heart attack left me feeling weak, and I began by taking baby steps. I would take the stairs instead of the elevator. I would tell myself what I was grateful for. I write poetry and would send poems to my sister, who would say: “You inspired me today.”
“I switched to a Mediterranean diet.”
I switched to a Mediterranean diet with lots of grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. My husband and I take turns cooking. I make a delicious spinach salad with tomatoes, cranberries, apple, and chicken. I cut out salt on my doctor’s orders. Cutting out sweets was hard! I love cheesecake, so I allowed myself one or two bites instead of a whole slice, and now I’ve stopped eating it altogether. My son bought me a dog, Jazz, and I take him for walks in nature, or ride my bicycle. I used to be too tired to exercise.
“I started smiling and stopped snapping.”
These days, my husband and kids are helping more around the house. I always found it hard to relax. Now, I meditate, pray, and listen to the sound of ocean waves on the internet. I read and paint. I started smiling and stopped snapping.
“Love yourself, enjoy life and inspire others.”
I’ve lost 30 pounds and I have more energy for my two jobs at Heavens Care, a homeless charity, and a pet rescue non-profit. The doctors say my heart is in much better shape and there is no serious damage.
I have a goal to finish the book I’m writing, my second, called Passion’s Cross, about my journey and faith and giving back. My advice for others: Love yourself, enjoy life, and inspire others and laugh with your family.
– Danyell Henriques, Walmart Customer; Gonzales, LA; $5K Winner