Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Heart Healthy Living and Yet My Heart Was Broken

One expects that if they live a healthy lifestyle there should be an absence of heart disease and a portrait of a healthy heart. However, this does not always ring true and my self-portrait is testimony to such. Actually, as friends and family might attest to, I have always been a little different. Some of my friends think I eat cardboard and birdseed, but this is far from the truth. Organic foods and healthy eating can often be very tasty and highly misunderstood. I probably exemplify the phrase “healthy lifestyle”. I do eat what some might call health food, organic when I can and almost always low fat/low sugar. For much of my life I suffered an addiction to sugar, so today I exercise great discipline in this regard. When I do eat sweets (generally only on the weekends), they are made from whole grain flours, utilize either palm oil or coconut oil and are generally sweetened with agave nectar, fruit juices or real maple syrup. I eat many meals out, but I’m selective in my choice of both the restaurant, menu items and cooking technique. Did you know that you can maintain a healthy eating style while traveling or eating out, even at fast food restaurants? I’ll get more into this later or perhaps in another post.

I’m also a fitness fanatic, self-proclaimed at 14 years of age after my heart was broken from rejection by the first girl I asked out on a date. She was a cheerleader and I was NOT a jock. I was not terribly overweight, but I was a sugarholic and had what one might call a pudgy, non-athletic appearance. So, I began running and working out at a time when the only runners were those on a track team and when working out with weights was for jocks or bodybuilders. Gyms were not air-conditioned and so-called “health clubs” were exclusively for the wealthy country club goers. Inspired by the likes of Jack Lalane, Steve Reeves (Hercules) and Paul Bragg I was determined to be fit, ripped and most importantly to have a date with the girl who turned me down.

This became a lifestyle for me, continued throughout college and carried over into my education and professional career. I had originally intended to be what is now called an exercise physiologist, yet that field of education did not exist at the time. I started with physical ed and pre-med in college with the intention of being the world’s guru to fitness. Wow, isn’t it amazing how being rejected by a pretty girl so greatly influenced my life?

Well, unexpectedly, I hurt my back in an accident and my treatment and recovery for such sparked my interest for becoming a chiropractic physician. So, that is exactly what I did. As I always say: “life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” Actually, it was a way I could live and preach all the healthy living techniques I was incorporating into my own life.


To summarize and make a long story short, I’m a health and fitness nut; lived and breathed it. Ironically, but true, I recently almost died of a heart problem. How can that even be? I never smoked, rarely drank alcohol, lived a healthy lifestyle and yet in March 2008 I was suffering grade IV congestive heart failure. This was quite an eye-opener for me. I realized that there are circumstances beyond our control and no matter how “good” we are, we can still get sick. I had no heart disease, no coronary disease, no atherosclerosis and nonetheless, my heart just short-circuited. I developed a severe arrhythmia whereby my heart was beating out of control and not pumping blood. Fluid was building up in my stomach, liver, lungs and I was literally drowning in my own secretions. Thanks be to God and the expert medical care of Dr. John Seger (electro-physiologist), my heart has a normal sinus rhythm again. Dr. Seger performed ablation, a surgery whereby the short circuit pathways of my heart’s rhythm were blocked by overheating the cells in specific areas of my heart muscle. He also prescribed a small amount of a beta blocker called Bystolic to calm my heart and lessen the fight/flight response to stress. In addition and on my own accord, I take health supplements and continue my healthy lifestyle.


Some might say that all my health efforts were wasted because I got very sick in spite of my healthy lifestyle and ode to clean living. To accept such would be a tragedy because I believe in my heart of hearts that I would not have survived the incident nor returned to my current state of health if I had lived a less than healthy lifestyle. In addition, my fairly quick return from the "jaws of death" and return to fitness would have been hendered if I had not followed up my surgery with a good supplement program, healthy eating, stress reduction and an awareness of my body’s feedback.

I live, I breathe, I feel very lucky, and I’m here to tell you about it. I’ve learned that the integration of western conventional medicine with traditional alternative methods is often imperative. I’ve realized that a broken heart is not always a bad thing and that when one door slams shut, another pops open. I did find the love of my life and I’m still here to share life’s challenges and rewards with her.


I’m concepting what might be the neatest, life-changing wellness, health-spa-retreat ever conceived. We've selected a choice spot in the mountains, to be revealed later. The concept will integrate western and eastern philosophies of health care under the cloak of both conventional medicine and alternative medicine. Here, guests will learn how to live well and be well while working toward current health and fitness goals and overcoming their obstacles to such.

Be Well !


  1. Dr. Lustick makes an extremely important point: Healthy living dramatically improves your chances of being healthy, but it does not guarantee it. In fact, all of us have pretty much the same odds of being alive or dead tomorrow, young or old. However, ask a sick person what they want more than anything, and they always say, "I just want to feel good again." Feeling good is a personal choice and hopefully a lifestyle. There's an old saying, "Everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody wants to die." Well, as long as you're here, you might as well live the best life you can, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Do the greatest good for the greatest number of people; and it starts by doing the greatest good for yourself: BE HEALTHY !

  2. Your story is inspirational. It is amazing that you continue to live well and have managed to overcome your addiction to sweets in order to stay well. Go for your dream!

  3. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story that gives us all another reason to become healthier naturaly. You are an inspiration.

  4. I am so inspired by your story. You have such drive and focus, it's admirable! I wish I could learn all of the healthy things to get my system on track, but with so much knowledge out there, it is very difficult to know where to begin. I am 27 and would like to take excellent care of myself...but just when you learn about how great Omegas are for you, you find out that soy was bad for you all along...and you wonder what to believe in. *sigh*

  5. Dear Kyrsten,
    So glad to be an inspiration for you. Looks like you have an affinity for a healthy lifestyle yourself and that's very good to hear. Regarding your apprehension about what to believe in, perhaps the following guidelines will help. "The whims and trends inspired by mankind may change, but the laws of nature and divine intervention will not." The fruits of the earth won't let you down, but when people try to improve on nature's perfection, in the name of convenience or economics, there are consequences to be paid. In spite of all the controversy about soy products, soy is not bad for you unless you happen to have an allergy. Genetically modified soy and textured soy is probably something we should all stay away from because we changed it to something bad. Certainly, organically grown edamame, or naturally fermented soy products (tempeh and natto) are likely very healthy, both as a source of protein and for the many cardio-vascular benefits. This way of thinking is true across the board and if you take it to heart it might spark an answer to what seems questionable in the media or literature. Feel free to check out my wellness coaching and personal training website at:

    Let me know if I may ever be of further assistance.


We invite comments, questions and personal health anecdotes