Heart attack. Stroke. Congestive heart failure.

There are several different reasons why these problems have been front-of-mind lately, most recently this morning when, after a session with Leslie Moraitis left me sweating and breathing hard, I wondered why I wasn’t clutching my chest and falling to the floor.

Am I the only one who’s ever wondered why Biggest Loser contestants aren’t dropping dead left and right?

Before my personal training session this a.m., the same questions floated through my overheated brain during Saturday’s cancer walk. I like to believe I know my limits, which is why I wasn’t terribly concerned when I got a little light-headed, and was more curious than afraid when my fingers swelled so much I could barely move them. I like to push myself, and therefore suffer the consequences. It’s why I’ll actually ask Moraitis to add more weight to a particular resistance exercise, because I’m not “feeling it” enough. Sure, I could keep my mouth shut and skate by, but that’s not what I’m paying for.

This may sound silly, but I have to tell you this continues to just baffle me: If someone is super obese, has diabetes, sky-high blood pressure, high cholesterol and a family history of heart disease, why on God’s green earth would you put her on a treadmill? I went on the treadmill after my session with Moraitis, and didn’t last very long – mostly because my legs were a bit weak from all those stupid lunges she made me do. (And why is it called a MEDICINE ball? It’s a ball from HELL. )


Have you seen Losing It, the new Jillian Michaels show? She’s actually dropping in on overweight, inactive and depressed families, then kicking their collective butts for a week at a gym. Mind you, these people haven’t worked out in years. But Michaels goes in there and on Day 1, she’s pushing them so hard there are tears and not a little bit of anger. What I can’t figure out is why the paramedics weren’t  parked outside.

I called my mother a couple of hours ago to ask her about heart disease in our family. She and I are on the same thyroid medicine – though I had chemo, first – and the same diuretic. But she’s also on two blood pressure medications and two cholesterol meds, and a few other things, I think. I never knew my maternal or paternal grandparents, but Mom’s parents both died of heart failure.

My father had high blood pressure, but not to the point he had to take anything for it. In fact, I don’t remember my father ever being on any type of medication until cancer took his life.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, African American adults are 40 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, but are 10 percent less likely than whites to have their blood pressure under control. The American Heart Association says that African-American women face a greater threat of death from heart disease than women of other races.

Not the kid. I plan to be around at least another 50 years or more.

As for why I haven’t dropped dead from all this exercise, I’m sure it’s because weight is just one aspect of good health. That just sounds right. What also sounds right is that no matter what shape you’re in, you’re more likely to drop dead of a heart attack from not exercising. The heart is one, big muscle after all.


I’m just glad it’s not aching as bad as my shoulders and thighs are right now.

For a dummy, you make a lot of sense.  ~  Fred Sanford

Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.