Mike’s Heart Story
As part of our partnership with the British Heart Foundation, we are sharing incredibly moving heart stories from inspiring PureGym members – all to raise awareness of heart and circulatory diseases.
Personal Trainer at PureGym Bedford Heights, Mike, was diagnosed with high blood pressure at 18 and put on medication. Now, he's lost weight, lowered his blood pressure naturally, and has become a PT. This is his story:
Hi, I’m Mike and I was diagnosed with high blood pressure at 18. At the time, I was working in an office, sitting down all day, and not exercising at all. My diet was awful, I ate a lot of junk food and generally didn’t lead a healthy lifestyle.
My weight had slowly started to creep up, and I began to suffer with headaches and having nose bleeds. I went to the doctors, and they said my blood pressure was too high. The reading was 180/120, which is classed as a very high reading and intervention is needed immediately, with prescription of medication to manage this.
I started the medication but didn’t quite understand the consequences of my diagnosis at the time. I was advised to lose some weight, cut down on salt and start exercising.
But it wasn’t until my 30th birthday that it really hit me that I needed to do something about my health and make a change. I was at a theme park, about to go on a rollercoaster and the harness wouldn’t come down. The staff managed to squeeze it in place, but I was really rammed in, and I was worried I might burst out on the way round!
I felt so embarrassed and that triggered me to take some steps towards a healthier lifestyle. That was my let’s do this moment.
I started out with my diet, eating a little healthier and reducing my salt intake. I then gradually introduced some light exercise at home as I still didn’t feel confident enough to step foot in a public gym. But the more I exercised, the more it motivated me to continue to eat healthier too. It was a real positive cycle!
I did achieve results, but perhaps too drastically and maybe a little unhealthily, which meant I began to yo-yo with my weight whenever I stopped dieting. I knew I needed to find a way to make sustainable changes, so I decided to join PureGym. I was able to go at quieter times, which personally made me feel more comfortable at the start while I built my confidence.
I would go to the gym in the morning before work, and over time, the consistency of eating well and training really helped me make great progress both physically and mentally.
It was tough, don’t get me wrong. The early days at the start were really challenging both mentally and physically. Plus, I was really unfit so getting into exercise was a little bit of a shock to the system. But I just kept reminding myself that it was worth it and as I started seeing results the motivation and discipline came much easier!
Gradually, with hard work, my blood pressure came down to a normal range and I was able to come off my medication. I got stronger, built some muscle, and generally just felt fitter in myself. The simple things I use to find hard like running for the bus or needing to walk somewhere far were no longer a challenge. I felt great!
One thing I’m so grateful for is my health and fitness journey helping me find my self-confidence again. Before I started going to the gym, I wanted to fade into the background at social gatherings and was embarrassed about how I looked. I even lost touch with friends because of it. The mental benefits of becoming fitter and healthier were just as big as the physical changes!
My biggest advice for anyone in a similar position is to start simple. You don’t have to throw yourself in at the deep end and go too hard too soon. The aim is to build up good, consistent, habits that are sustainable – so find something you enjoy and remind yourself of the benefits when your motivation starts to drop.
My other big tip is that although diet does play such a huge part in weight loss, I found that exercise goes hand in hand and encourages you to make healthier eating choices. When I just focused on my diet, I found my weight yo-yo - but when paired with exercise it made me want to change my eating habits and become healthier instead of going through cycles of diets.
And if you’re a little older starting your fitness journey, like me, just remember the gym is for everybody. Bring a friend or maybe try a class. Having people around you that support you and can help to motivate and keep you accountable is great too.
Inspired by Mike’s heart story?
Remember that all PureGym's offer free blood pressure checks for members, just ask your team for further details.
PureGym have defibrillators on-site at each gym, and these can be lifesaving in a critical situation.
The day you need to do CPR comes when you least expect it. This #RestartAHeartDay learn CPR with the British Heart Foundation's free online training tool, RevivR. It only takes 15 minutes. Start your CPR training here.
*Experienced cardiac nurses at the British Heart Foundation Heart Helpline are on hand to help answer questions or concerns about heart and circulatory diseases, and their risk factors. For more information visit www.bhf.org.uk/hearthelpline
WE ARE PROUD TO BE THE OFFICIAL GYM PARTNER FOR THE BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION
We've partnered with the British Heart Foundation to help inspire a healthier nation, one heartbeat at a time. With the help of our partners (and heart experts!) the British Heart Foundation, we want to get more people thinking about their heart health.
Click here to find out more about our partnership with the British Heart Foundation and learn more about how to look after your heart health.