Rosalind’s Story: Cardiac Nurse Loses 140 Pounds to Protect Her Heart
As a cardiac nurse, Rosalind Davis has cared for the hearts of countless patients over a 41-year career at Ascension Borgess in Kalamazoo.
So, being overweight, it wasn’t lost on her that she could be taking better care of herself.
“I’m telling patients what to do to reduce their risk factors, and lo and behold, how about me? I needed to do it too,” she said. “I was very used to seeing the end product of what not caring for yourself can be like.”
She also knew that her race posed additional risks for her. African Americans are two to three times more likely to die from premature heart disease and stroke than their Caucasian counterparts. According to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure, or hypertension, affects the African American population more than any other race in the world.
Despite knowing those grim statistics and knowing what she needed to do, finding the spark to actually do it took some time. Lifetime habits aren’t easy to break, and Davis acknowledged a pattern of emotional eating was holding her back. Plus, as a caretaker for her husband, it was easier to focus her energies on him and not on herself.
“There was a time in my life when my excuses were more powerful than me,” she said.
Then, over a 10-month period, Davis lost her mom, dad and her beloved husband of 32 years. It could have easily turned into another excuse, but Davis came to the realization that she wanted to squeeze the most life she could out of the one she’d been given. She wanted to not just live, but thrive, able to actively play with her grandchildren and be an example to her patients.
“I wanted to physically be a part of my grandkids’ life,” she said. “I think that was the biggest thing for me – I wanted to be here longer.”
With the support of many co-workers who had walked the same weight-loss journey and faced the same struggles, Davis settled on gastric bypass sleeve surgery in 2013 and said, “it was the best thing I could have done.” Since then, she’s lost 140 pounds, walks regularly and can fully play with and enjoy her grandkids. Davis celebrates her 63rd birthday on Feb. 9 and isn’t taking a second for granted.
“Life’s simple pleasures are the best,” she said.
Her healthier lifestyle also helps her better connect with patients. Sharing her story helps them understand that change is possible in their lives as well and Davis makes sure she keeps it real. She explains that she must purposefully choose to make good choices every day, just like they’ll have to. She won’t call herself a “winner” because her race is still ongoing, but she knows she’s “winning” every time she goes for a walk or makes a healthy eating choice.
“I can share a story with them that they can relate to,” she said. “It’s a work in progress.”
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- Ashley’s Story: Facing Open Heart Surgery at 19
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- The Surprising Connection Between Stress and Your Heart Health
Photos courtesy of Rosalind Davis