I saw this and had to share.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

It hits extremely close to home for me. I’ve had at least 4 family members pass away from heart attacks, and a few others who were thankfully rushed to the ER in the nick of time. Here’s the link to the article shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Men

Men, please don’t ignore these symptoms. My physically fit dad transitioned at the age of 48 (weeks shy of turning 49), almost one year after having what was clearly a heart attack, but he told me “it’s just indigestion. I just need a little accupressure” yet I knew he had just finished having an argument on the phone over a botched business deal.

My instincts said it was more than indigestion. But I deferred to my dad. He turned to accupressure instead of going to the hospital.

One year later, after a heavy training session at the gym and achieving his goal of benchpressing 400 lbs, my dad had a heart attack a few hours after returning home. He was on the phone chatting and laughing with a business associate and the associate told me days later, “your dad was laughing and then I didn’t hear anything. The line just went silent. I thought we had a bad connection so I hung up and tried calling back.”

I’m the one who found my dad, on the floor of his study, phone also on the floor. I can’t help but to question, “what if I had forced him to go get checked out in 2000, would he be alive today?” The truth is, only God knows the answer to that, and at this point, the only thing I can do is make sure that I’m mindful of the signs and symptoms, and that I share the information with others.

My ex-fiance had two strokes in his 40s and eventually passed due to the toll this trauma placed upon his body. He went from playing basketball to being confined to a bed. If you knew this man you know that he had a zest for life, was always on the go, extremely competitive, and wanted to live a long long life. He hated that he was convalescent. He lived for his freedom. He still had so much to do and see, so many goals and plans, and he was a father—and grandfather. He wanted to be there for his family. He wanted to help open doors for them that took him years to break through. His life here was cut short.

Men, you have family, friends, associates and neighbors who will miss you terribly. Go to the doctor! You don’t want to be poked, prodded and probed. But guess what? You won’t have a say or choice in the matter when your cold body is on the autopsy table. Once or twice a year of doctors examinations is waaaay better than suddenly taking your last breath and never getting to hug, kiss, and laugh with loved ones—in that same body that you keep taking for granted!

Women

Women, as you can see, we have more symptons than men commonly do, and these symptoms are oftentimes ignored as being “something else” when they could be the very thing that can end your life as you know it. Even some doctors ignore the symptoms, so be your best advocate and demand that they scientifically rule out heart-related factors. And when a doctor suggests testing, say yes!

I remember in 2011, after collapsing while cycling with friends, a cardiologist at Emory Hospital (then Crawford-Long), who kept me overnight for testing and observation, because he said he wouldn’t be able to “handle the burden of knowing that I sent you home, you went to sleep, and never woke up. Natasha, we’re seeing this happening more and more with women especially in their 30s…and you are at greater risk because there’s history on your father’s side….let me rule it out and then we can both have peace of mind….

That experience scared the bajesus out of me. But guess what? Until that moment, I had never had full-scale testing on my heart, lungs, brain, etc. The final prognosis was I was extremely dehydrated. Like, I could’ve died, I was that dehydrated. From the tests it showed that I had been dehydrated for several days. Had I not gone to the ER, well you can guess the result. But I want to thank the cardiologist who didn’t just accept this initial diagnosis and send me home with orders to rehydrate. He understood the other less-commonly known symptoms of a heart attack, and he sprang into action. His proactivity has led to my greater awareness.

My paternal aunt, Cheryl, transitioned in her 30s, after a workout at the gym which included weights and laps in the pool. Just like my dad, she was physically fit and loved working out. She wasn’t feeling good when she left the gym and felt worse when she got home. Ignoring the symptoms she decided to take a nap. Long story, short, my beloved aunt passed away that day.

Ladies, I’m not trying to intentionally scare you, but maybe it will encourage you to take this seriously and stop being like we’re conditioned to be—too busy caring for others to care for ourselves. Guess what? You can’t care for others if you’re no longer here. Charity starts first with YOU and for YOU.

Everyone

Don’t dismiss and be casual about your health because you’re not of a certain age. People are having heart attacks as teenagers and in their 20s. When it comes to heart attacks and strokes, age ain’t nothing but a number.

Don’t dismiss this because you’re physically fit. So was my dad and aunt. Heck, I was cycling for goodness sake—and doctors didn’t dismiss the symptoms simply because I was in shape and young.

Don’t ignorantly say, “well there’s no family history, and I don’t drink, smoke, or eat fast food…” because our bodies don’t give a damn about your history and what you do and don’t consume. We’ve learned that just like we don’t openly share our medical history with our family, they too aren’t sharing all of the details of their medical history with us. You only know what you know, and you don’t know much—especially if you have family members like my dad, who never went to the doctor, because either they felt good and rarely got ill, or because of religious beliefs. So that means your family medical history has major gaps in it. Don’t rely upon history to chart your present and future course!

Also, let me add this point: You can have an itty bitty waist, eat a bland diet, and a low body fat percentage, but your mental stress could be taxing your body, causing it to also stress.

If it stresses out over the added stress that you are placing on it: from your ambitious goals, overexertion from working out, and not getting enough quality rest—guess what? Your body is going to sound the alarms and start showing signs that it’s taking on too much stress. If you aren’t paying attention to the alarms and flags, then you significantly reduce your odds of surviving the attack your heart undergoes when it can’t keep up with you and your lifestyle.

We all have dreams and goals. Let’s take the small steps to ensure the odds are in our favor, so we can possibly achieve those goals and see those dreams come true. Let’s do what we need to do to be here for our family and friends. I don’t know about you, but I love spending time with the people that I love. I want to enjoy these moments for as long as possible.

Don’t be embarrassed or prideful about rushing to the doctor, ER, or urgent care, if you feel these symptoms then speak up and get help!

I love you all!!!

~Natasha

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/signs_symptoms.htm

Copyright 2019. Natasha L. Foreman.

I don’t know your religious beliefs, who and how you pray, or if you pray. You may not believe in a power higher and greater than you. Whatever, however, and whomever you lean upon each day for strength, courage, and inspiration—modify the words, as needed. No judgment from me. All I desire is your internal peace and that you share that positivity with the world.

Say it until you believe it and live it. I needed to read and speak this prayer today. It will be part of my daily prayer.

I’m grateful for my former sister-in-law, now sister-in-love, Arleen, who sent this to me. We chat almost daily, sharing words of love, empowerment, and healing.

I thank God in advance for all that comes my way—for the lessons, blessings, and any redirection. 🙏🏽
~Natasha

This week I’ve been tuning in to my social media networks, and having an ongoing conversation about the need for focusing 100 percent on our health and wellbeing. We’re only born with one brain, one heart, one stomach, and one body. Yet we abuse the heck out of them. Let’s not even go there with the other organs that we neglect and mistreat.

Shouldn’t we take care of them? We usually think about them when we’re in excruciating pain or facing hospitalization. We think about mental health when we see someone else suffering with issues.

How can we achieve goals, visit far places, and spend quality time with loved ones—if we aren’t here to enjoy all of it?

Stress is nothing to play with.

Let me correct that. Bad stress is nothing to play with. Good stress, like winning the lottery, competing in a game (or sport), or having sex—those are pretty cool experiences. Bad stress, that comes from trauma in our life, like: injury, illness, death, high consumer debt, crappy credit score, joblessness and homelessness (or the risk of either, or both), or anything else that causes our life to be so disrupted, that we can’t help but to think that it’s a sick, twisted joke—or somehow our punishment for being a fool in the past.

So, that means, a recovering workaholic like me—has to be mindful that although I have HUGE goals that I want to achieve, I need to be alive to successfully claim them. That means, being more productive with less hours in the day. I was experiencing too many bouts of burnout—and close-calls to the hospital—trying to maintain a 90+ hour work week. Last year, I actually thought that I was about to collapse and die. I was under so much stress, trying to deal with personal issues, my desires for my career, and not having the billions of dollars that I need to serve all of the people that I want to help. Okay, the last part wasn’t a stressor for me. I just wanted to lighten the mood. Did you visualize the billions of dollars? Good. So did I! But seriously, there were a few times last year that I was scared that I wouldn’t make it long enough to one day see my great-grandchildren. I didn’t think I would live to see 2019. I felt worn out!

Honestly, there have been some moments, this year, that I’ve had to tell myself to slow down, regroup, and get the heck out of my head. My mind doesn’t ever slow down. It never stops chiming in. My confidence began to wane—drastically. I felt depression trying to rear up and take over. It took everything in me to double-dutch myself out of the trap that was coming.

Children double-dutching in Chicago (1973)
Source: John H. White, 1945-, Photographer (NARA record: 4002141) – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

I’ve recommitted to working out at least 6 days a week. I’m learning to say “no” to more people and to more things that will require more energy than I have to spare. I’m speaking up and sharing my reality, my pain, my fears—with some of my family members and friends. Not everyone can handle the load that you carry, so you have to be mindful of what you share and with whom. I learned that the hard way.

Something else that I’m working on, is accepting that I can’t rely on anyone or anything—other than God. For me, He is my absolute. There’s no doubt. There’s no question. He’s kept every promise made to me. I can’t say that about His creations. Go ahead, laugh. You know that was funny, and the truth. The only guarantees I have is with and in Him. No one and nothing else. So that is what I’m choosing to roll with. That way I can stop being disappointed when the dirty diaper hits the fan, and splashes all over me. I mean, isn’t that how it feels when life blindsides you? That’s how it feels for me. It’s a gross but effective visual.

Check Me Out. Chime In.

Check out my Instagram videos that I posted this week. Chime in. Let me know how you re-balance, decompress, readjust, and realign. How do you make the most of work days, when you’re bound to set schedules and small windows of time? How do you change your environment to clear your mind? How do you refocus, so that you’re not overwhelmed with the periphery, or with the stuff that you know you can’t handle or solve right this very moment (or no time soon)?

Copyright 2019. Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

A few months ago I was having dinner with a friend of mine and we were talking about working out and getting back in shape. I’ve been like a bad debtor, putting in the work (paying my debt) then stopping and hiding out for weeks and months, and then starting up again.

My consistent pursuit at getting and staying in a healthy zone at a healthy weight, has been something I’ve struggled with for years. It used to be my lifestyle to work out 6-7 days per week. Now those efforts are emotionally-driven, determined by what’s going on in my life. That is a roller coaster ride that won’t have a positive ending if I don’t get out of my head and get back to the basics of taking care of this temple, this gift that I can’t replace or exchange, so I should do everything positive to keep it going strong and looking its best.

As my friend and I looked at images of muscular men and women I oohed and ahhed over the ones I thought had awesome bodies. My friend asked me what woman or body type (physique) did I want to physically look like.

I was stumped.

I couldn’t point to any particular body type, shape, build, or even a woman who looked the way I want to look.

My Fitness Role Models Growing Up

Growing up I aspired to be an amazing athlete that possessed a similar physique, strength, speed, and physical power of my two sheroes Florence Griffith-Joyner aka “Flo-Jo”, and Lenda Murray.

Flo-Jo

Flo-Jo is a track and field legend, a sprinter, whose workouts I used to struggle to follow from junior high and high school. She endured grueling workout programs including long-distance runs (*eeww*) to build her strength, speed, endurance, and that amazing body.

The sports bra that she’s wearing in this picture is neon green and black. Guess who begged her parents to buy her the same one in neon pink and black? Yep. Me!

I wanted to look, train, and run like Flo-Jo. I mean jeesh, by the time I reached junior high we were the same height (5’7) and same weight (125-130 pounds). I had a vision of something and someone to aspire to be more like.

Even after she passed away I continued to reference her training programs so that I could be a better athlete and one day have a body that looked something like Flo-Jo’s.

So now, decades later, I’ve more than slacked off on running and sprinting (although I think about them often), and there’s a part of me that says, “dude really? Do you think if Flo-Jo was still living she would be kicking back on the sofa? Heck no. She would get up and get to the gym or to the track. Get your butt up lazy girl!

Sometimes I get up and go workout. Sometimes I head for the fridge.

Just keeping it real with you!

Lenda Murray

Lenda Murray was and will always be one of my favorite bodybuilders, male and female. Hands down this woman reigns as queen of bodybuilding in my book. I followed Ms. Murray’s career since the 1980s.

I was impressed that a woman two inches shorter than me (she’s 5’5) could build a body of that impressive size and with striations that look like they were chiseled by a sculptor.

During the season Ms. Murray would weigh an impressive 150 pounds. During off-season she would average 160-165 pounds.

That’s all muscle folks.

We’re not talking flab, muffin tops, and keg belly. She’s chiseled and in my opinion, absolutely gorgeous from head to toe!

Ms. Murray possesses a level of strength and power that leaves me speechless. She retired in 2004 and still puts most of us to shame. Oh the intensity of her workouts boggled my mind and still do. But I never stopped aspiring to be like the legendary Lenda Murray.

Why These Two Women?

For me these two women were the fitness role models that I aspired to be more like.

I ran track since elementary school and gradually took up lifting weights in high school (even though I was curling dumbbells at home since junior high). By college my fitness levels were at a level where I craved my workouts. I couldn’t wait to achieve a goal I had set.

Flo-Jo and Lenda also showed me and the world what a woman can do when given the opportunity. They showed me what a strong woman can do and can be when she sets her mind to it. People said only men could run certain times, Flo-Jo proved otherwise. People said only men could lift certain weights and define certain muscles, Lenda proved otherwise.

I also saw more when I looked closely at them.

I saw me in them.

They both had big legs like me. Thunder thighs of power and strength. I used to be ashamed of my big legs. I equated them to being fat. You can look at both my high school and college track pictures and see that I wasn’t.

But when you compare yourself to others you begin to see yourself as different, and sometimes that difference isn’t seen as positive—especially when other people tease you about that difference.

I was insecure about my body.

When I saw Flo-Jo and Lenda I soon began to learn that there was strength, power, and great potential in these legs of mine. I just needed to put in the work. But I won’t lie, even with my efforts and great results, I’m just not disciplined enough to reach their level. I love junk food too much 😂 Sad but true.

So here’s what I would say to my friend today if the topic ever came back up…

I don’t aspire to look like Flo-Jo, Lenda, or anyone else. I want to look and feel like ME—when I’m at my healthiest—physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I found some pictures that capture the essence of me when I’m feeling and looking healthy; when my mind, spirit, and body isn’t plagued and beat down by life’s toxins. They aren’t from 20 to 25 years ago. They were taken between November 2007 and the spring of 2014. Not that long ago.

Here’s a collage of those photos:

Yes in these photos I was thinner and more muscular than I am now, but what else do you see? When you look at these pictures do you see the energy, zest for life, the spunk and pizzazz?

My friend Tracey Wright told me this time last year (and I’m paraphrasing), “I want old Tasha back…the energetic, wild, fun to be around, bold Tasha…

I do too Tracey.

What I see in these pictures, what you may also see in these pictures, that’s what I want to reclaim, recapture, and then hold on to and thrive from.

That is my focus. Those are my goals.

I’m grateful for Flo-Jo and Lenda Murray and their journey. I’ve admired them for over 32 years. They have taught me to be my best me, to persevere, to love the skin I’m in, and to not abuse this temple for it is a gift. They have taught me to never ever ever give up and to stop being concerned about the person next to me, ahead of me, or behind me. Run my race, lift my weight, do my own thing!

I hope that by sharing my story it will help someone else.

Warmest wishes and love,

~Natasha

Copyright 2018. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved.

My collegiate track and field days were short-lived. After skipping the season my junior year in high school and having an awful senior year season I steered away from the track while attending Santa Ana College (Rancho Santiago Community College). But the sprinter’s bug bit me while attending California State University, Long Beach (affectionately known as “Long Beach State”).

I’ve shared this story before. It’s one that helps me, inspires me, encourages me, and puts some fire under my butt to be proactive.

I keep this shirt as a reminder that nothing great comes without hard work, excuses don’t amount to much, being early means you’re always on time, don’t give up on your dreams, and even through adversity you must pray and push yourself as though there are no obstacles. It also is a reminder to listen to God’s voice above and despite all others.

It was Spring Break 1996. I was injured during track practice.

Coach wanted to punish me and make an example out of me for the rest of the team. I was late to practice. I got stuck in traffic coming from Pomona (the only sprinter who lived off campus and the only member of the track team who lived that far from campus).

Coach devised a workout for me that was so intense that my teammates painful faces let me know that they felt awful for me.

I was in the fifth lane and I was doing my sixth 120 meter sprint. I would have four more and then sets of 240s, 440s, and one 600 meter run, followed by a light session in the weight room.

I pushed off of the blocks. I could never jump that high in the air until that day, until that moment.

Pushing off of the blocks that “rubber band” in the back of my thigh snapped and coiled up towards my glutes, and I shot up high off of the ground and then what felt like slow motion I fell back to the ground and flat on my face—hard.

It was raining outside, so the beating drops of water didn’t help. But they did blend in well with the tears that streamed down my face. My dad trained me to never cry on the track, so as I tried to cover my face I was finally grateful for this pouring rain. My teammates ran over to me and while one rushed to get the training staff, the others consoled me.

Coach stood by with a mixed look of concern and shock. He knew I was giving him 100% of myself in that workout, and he also knew that he denied me a proper warmup as the first part of my punishment. I begged to have equal time warming up as my teammates were given, even three-quarters of the warmup would help. He cut my warmup by more than half. He said “you will learn the importance of being on time after today“.

Had my body been properly warmed up, like the rest of my team, like what I was accustomed to, the likelihood of me injuring myself was slim. I looked into his eyes asking what my mouth couldn’t, “why?”

The training staff rushed out on a cart and when they saw I couldn’t walk they, along with my team members had to lift me and place me on the cart. One of my teammates grabbed my workout bag and brought it to the training center.

After preliminary tests it was initially thought that I had a hamstring pull. It would take several grueling weeks to heal and recover.

I was sent home with crutches and since I didn’t have anyone to drive me home (that’s a long story about a boyfriend who didn’t believe I was as injured as the training staff said I was so he refused to come get me) so I drove with my left leg for the hour-plus it took to get home, narrowly avoiding an accident when I hydroplaned (I will skip the other dramatic parts of this story).

I cried all the way home. I cried in bed wondering how I would heal from this unbearable pain. I spent the rest of Spring Break at home. The training staff gave me anti-inflammatories. They warned me of the potential liver and kidney damage. Since I didn’t take medicine I only took a few pills and left the rest alone.

Rehabbing my leg was at times unbearable. I had to go immediately to physical therapy that Monday. I couldn’t make those crutches work for me and if you know California State University, Long Beach then you know how huge that campus is. I couldn’t carry my backpack and figure out the crutches. So I got rid of the crutches. I would have to make due and force my left side of my body to overcompensate for my right.

Coach suggested that I take a natural supplement to help with my recovery. The guys on the team took it. I went to the health food store and got some. Coach had regularly scheduled sessions for us to meet individually and as a group with the team psychologist. She gave us visual training techniques and other aides. But honestly I was mentally and physically in pain. The girls on the team explained that Coach gives preferential treatment to the boys and I would just have to suck it up and face the reality they knew all too well. I continued my grueling rehab sessions and focused on my school work.

I spent a couple of weeks rehabbing when Coach demanded that I return to the track. He needed points. I ran the 100 meter, 200 meter, and the first leg of the 4×100 meter relay team. He needed points.

Despite the arguments of the training staff who said I was weeks away from being good enough to run, my concern that I still had a crater in the back of my thigh, Coach’s voice was louder, and the trainers complied by signing off on my release. I could see the concern on their faces.

When I returned to the track it wasn’t the same. I was still injured, still trying to heal, and after weeks of taking that supplement I was also now about 10 pounds heavier (when I was already trying to get my weight down and body fat percentage lower). My teammates faces said what I knew, I wasn’t ready and I could make my injury worse. But I went out there anyway. I was a walk-on trying to get a scholarship and I knew the times I needed to get in order to be awarded that scholarship by the Athletic Director. He said if I nail those times I had the scholarship. I had already read and signed the huge NCAA packet. I just needed to do my part. Get those times.

Well how can I say this accurately…

I sucked. In every race I ran.

It would’ve been better to get someone from the cross-country team to run for me. No offense. But what returned to the track wasn’t a healthy, fully conditioned sprinter. Someone in middle school could’ve beat me in a race. I was injured and trying to carry around more weight, but the stop watch doesn’t consider those factors–and fans don’t know what’s going on—my times said I was just slow, my place crossing the finish line said I was slow. Not the slowest in my heats, but not fast enough to get my team the points Coach expected. Not fast enough to compete at other big meets, like Oregon.

I also was no longer eligible to compete indoors when the time came. I hadn’t healed. My strength and speed weren’t up to par.

Imagine if I had only left my house an hour earlier, even if I would’ve been on campus much earlier than our practice time, even with the traffic, I would’ve been to practice on time and Coach wouldn’t have punished me. I most likely also wouldn’t have injured myself. Hindsight is always 20/20 and the shoulda woulda coulda doesn’t matter.

Interesting enough during post-season a doctor checked my leg and said, “had you continued training as your coach expected this hamstring tear would’ve led to permanent damage“. My mouth felt like it hit the floor.

I loved sprinting. I loved the intensity of the races. I loved training harder after a loss. I loved the smell of the grass infield and surrounding the track. I loved feeling the different types of tracks, some springier than others, some feeling like wood. I loved the competition and the camaraderie. I loved feeling myself run. I loved the freedom that running provides and how sharp your mind must be to blot out distractions, while being relaxed enough that your jaw and lips jiggle as you run.

My track and field career ended in 1996. It took me 5 years to get my mind and body stronger than it had ever been, faster than high school and college. I contemplated returning to the track with a track club to run in the Master’s meets and races. But when my dad passed away in 2001, that dream and the dream of competing in Power Lifting also passed away.

Dad was my coach, trainer, motivator, and butt-kicker. Who else could train me like him? Who else could get in my head and help me to see things like he did? Who else could cuss me out and get away with it like dad? My answer was simply, “no one“.

So I stepped away from it all.

Honestly, those were some of the biggest mistakes that I’ve made in my life because I know that my dad would’ve wanted me to pursue every dream I had no matter what. I used him to make excuses for my fears. I dishonored him, his memory and his legacy to protect myself.

I find myself still doing that, still making excuses, still leaving dreams by the wayside, still not getting consistent help for the hurt, pain, and anger.

When will I grow sick and tired of being sick and tired? When will I make the decision to make my dreams a reality? When will I stop making excuses and start putting in the work? When will I stop living a life of conditional mediocrity and return to a life of excellence?

When I made the decision in 2001 to stop training as an athlete, my mind and body stopped receiving the level of intensity and feedback they needed to thrive, and my spirit has also been challenged.

It’s been 17 years since I last consistently trained as an athlete. That’s 17 years of being off balance and existing with a void. My mind is sharper when I’m training. My body is healthier. My attitude is better. My outlook is focused and broad. I accomplish more in other areas of my life.

Time waits for no one. Whatever I want I must go get it. Laziness gains nothing positive. One step at a time. One day at a time. I may not have an interest in competing in track and field anymore, but I most definitely have a desire to getting my mind, body, and spirit realigned.

Age is an excuse for not reaching for better, for more, for what is attainable—for what God has before you, just for you.

Now is the time.

~Natasha

Copyright 2018. Natasha L. Foreman/Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved.