Elizabeth Beard - I’m not your hero, I’m your warning
Elizabeth Beard is a National Volunteer Spokeswoman for Go Red For Women and an advocate for the awareness of Peripheral Artery Disease for the American Heart Association. She is first and foremost a survivor.
Everybody loves a transformation story someone once told me. A living example of what they can accomplish if they just put their mind to it. Proof, that there is life after a cardiovascular event or diagnosis.
As a Go Red For Women spokeswoman, my story is about transformation. I did make a huge change in my way of living and strive every day to live a healthier life, but in many ways I feel I fail. Just because I am a spokeswoman does not make me perfect.
I wake up every single day knowing that physical exercise is the way that I will be able to do many things. It will bring me greater cardiovascular health; it will help me at work with productivity and mental alertness. And, it helps to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. But there is that time between waking up each day and actually exercising that is the most difficult. I literally have to work myself up to get on the treadmill each and every day.
The battle is not just a physical battle. It’s a mental battle, too. I wonder sometimes if I am just weak-minded, or why is it that I can’t seem to do like some other survivors and go run marathons and lift weights and lose a bunch of weight. Be all that I can be. Be an inspiration. Be that girl in the story. I want to be that girl in the story so bad I can taste it.
I think because we sometimes forget that we do suffer from a chronic illness, there are going to be days when you can’t do it. All of our bodies are different. Some of us were in better physical shape than others when we became ill. Some people did not work out at all – I didn’t prior to being diagnosed with peripheral artery disease. Cardiovascular disease and stroke survivors come in all shapes, sizes and ages. There is a big difference in what that means for each survivor as far as activity level goes.
I hope that you never for one moment think that my transformation came easy to me, or that it is complete. I choose to live a healthier life, but my version of healthy may be different than yours. That doesn’t mean your efforts are worth any less. We each have a personal journey and first we have to fight through the depression and anxiety that normally comes with cardiovascular illness. Then we have to face the physical limitations and adjust our programs accordingly.
As an advocate, I don’t want to be your hero. I want to be your warning. What happened to me and how I got there are the most important parts of my story to me personally. If I can prevent you from ever having to tell you own survivor story then I have succeeded.
So today, just try with me. Try to do better. You know you need to. You know you want to. Find out what it is that is holding you back from taking that first step to a better life, not a perfect life, just a better one.