Reader Josh Westbrook had a heart attack on February 10, 2008
When you meet literally thousands upon thousands of people a week through a weight loss blog like I do, it's difficult to fathom that each and every one of those people is a real person with a real life going through some very real circumstances that got them to be obese and unhealthy in the first place. I receive so many e-mails from the people who read here and I'm grateful to play even a small role in your life although I've never even met you face-to-face.
One such person is a man named Josh Westbrook. Josh wrote to me a while back telling me about how livin' la vida low-carb has helped him improve his life. He's lost about 30 pounds, starting feeling better than he ever had, and was well on his way to living a healthy lifestyle for many years to come.
But then it happened on February 10, 2008--Josh had a heart attack!
As he shared at my "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb Discussion" forum today, Josh is only 31 years old and weighs in at 226 pounds. It's not like he was so morbidly obese that his heart couldn't take it anymore.
"Not a perfectly fit person but not obese," he wrote.
Now his cardiologist wants Josh to cut back on the fat in his diet and he's at a crossroads about what to do. The doctor was very explicit that it wasn't his low-carb diet that caused the heart attack, but rather stress-induced. Josh acknowledges he has been under an intense amount of pressure for a while.
"And he is right," Josh admitted. "I went through the hardest year and a half of my life."
Even still, Josh says he is "very confused" about what to do with his low-carb lifestyle now. Some well-meaning, but ignorant naysayers are blaming the Atkins diet on the heart attack, but Josh knows better. And yet the doctors are giving strict orders for him to cut back on the fat completely.
According to Josh, he is eating a lower-carb diet that is more than 100 grams a day mostly from berries, whole grain bread, and low-fat staples.
"I am allowed to eat pasta but so far have refused," Josh explained. "I miss steak. I miss dark meat chicken (my favorite). I miss butter when I am cooking."
It sounded like Josh would do fairly well with the lower-carb South Beach Diet by Dr. Arthur Agatston. That plan allows for higher amounts of carbohydrates and less fat. I told Josh to ask his doctor about whether that plan would be suitable for him to follow.
But there's a nagging concern that is bugging him right now that he hasn't been able to find an answer to.
"What if because my family has a history of 'heart disease,' higher fat is actually dangerous for me?"
Josh is looking for any experiential advice from my readers and/or doctors who have been through this before. It's a scary situation for a young man like him, but one that really needs to be addressed. Share your feedback for Josh in the comments section below so he can find some direction about what to do next.
Obviously, he needs to get a handle on how he reacts to stress in his life. People just don't realize the damage they are doing to their bodies when they let all the pent-up frustrations, pressures from your job and family, and other daily stresses weigh us down and cause real damage to our health. It's why I step away from the computer, engage in elliptical workouts, spend time with my wife watching television, sleep when I'm tired, and take vacations like I'm gonna do next week. We've got to unwind and recharge our batteries so that our health remains intact.
I'm so happy that Josh is still with us today. Hearing his story reminded me of my brother Kevin who had three heart attacks in one week back in 1999 that nearly killed him. He was only 32 years old and his was induced by both stress and his weight. By the grace of God he is still with us today, but has to take a big handful of pills every single day for the rest of his life. My prayer is that Josh avoids this fate in his own life.
So how about it everyone? Do you have any experience with how to eat healthy following a heart attack? Is a high-fat, low-carb diet like Atkins (which was created by a cardiologist by the way!) conducive for someone who has been through a traumatic cardiovascular event like this? Josh has an appointment for rehabilitation on March 10, 2008 where he will ostensibly be given his low-fat dietary instructions.
What say YOU?