Talking about heart health

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A Valentine’s Day Tribute for American Heart Month
by Nikki Bocks

Valentine’s Day is almost here!  Whether or not you are all into the hearts and flowers and stuff, it’s certainly an appropriate time of the year to talk about something a little more serious than conversation hearts…I’m talking about real hearts. You know, that  thing beating 24/7 in your chest.

Heart health is something very dear to me. It’s been a part of my life since I was a kid.  My grandpa had a heart attack when he was in his 50s and a quadruple bypass not long after that.  My father and his brother both died of heart disease in their 40s.  I was 30 when I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and started taking medications I figured I would have to take the rest of my life.

Thankfully, that all changed for me when I found a love for something I used to make fun of: running.  Runners were always “those people” to me.  I was never going to be one of them.  I thought they looked silly running in the rain, were insane for running in the winter, don’t even get me started on those early morning runners… what the heck were they thinking?

At the age of 38, I saw what my life was going to be, and I did not like the picture I was presented.  I was overweight, completely out of shape, depressed, heading down a very short road to an early grave.  It was time for a change, so I figured I could start running.  Six years later, I’m 50 pounds lighter, off of all my medications and my doctor figures I have at least another 40 years in me!  I can certainly live with that!

Heart disease effects both men and women and is often silent until it is too late to change.  I was fortunate that there were little things adding up, things I could change.  Running has literally saved my life!  How amazing is that!

Yes, I’m one of those crazy runners I used to laugh at. I get up early. I run in the rain, snow, whatever.  This year, and every year, as I celebrate with my love at Valentine’s Day, I also celebrate that my heart is healthy.  I will run my eleventh half marathon this year at Gazelle Girl (register today!).  My plan is to keep running them for as long as my heart, and my legs, will allow.

Stay active. Know your heart. Eat right. Stay healthy. Running can help us not be one of those statistics.  It can help us be survivors instead!  

Click here to learn more about how you can start running today.

Hi!  I’m Nikki, and I’m a runner.  Actually, I’m a 40-something former couch potato, wife, mom, musician, optician, wellness coach and team leader with the Gazelle Sports Holland Run Camp.  Leading a healthy, fit life has become my passion and helping others to do the same is now my mission!  I blog for myself and my team at

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