Just five months ago, the custom-made dress, created for a goddaughter's wedding, was two sizes too small. And this attractive, 40-year-old woman was not looking at a healthy future.
Specializing in women’s heart care
Lawrence suffered frequent chest pains, heart palpitations and generally felt lousy. She chalked the symptoms up to weight gain and rheumatoid arthritis. But when the pain became unbearable, she scheduled an appointment with Laxmi Mehta, MD, FACC, director of Ohio State's Women's Cardiovascular Health Clinic.
Dr. Mehta discovered that Lawrence suffers from Raynaud's disease, a condition that limits blood circulation, and prescribed medication to manage the symptoms. However, the doctor added, medication alone wasn't going to be enough.
Lawrence needed to lose weight, exercise more and eat healthier. Vascular and heart disease risk factors like high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, smoking, diet and exercise are modifiable; working to change these can reduce a woman's risks and improve overall health.
"Before meeting Dr. Mehta, I thought I was dying," Lawrence recalls. "And when she said that my disease was quite manageable, I felt like I'd been given a second chance. I was determined to do what I had to do."
Committing to a healthier lifestyle
She gave her diet a healthy overhaul and began early morning walks on the treadmill, at first for 20 minutes and now sometimes for an hour. Then she added a rigorous evening workout. To stay on course, Lawrence schedules workout time into her daily planner. "I had to learn how to make room for myself."
Another important lesson, Lawrence says, is setting realistic goals and focusing on one day at a time. "I've tried to diet and exercise before, but I always failed because I was too busy looking for the end result and then getting frustrated. So now, it's not about dieting. This is about a healthy lifestyle."
Today, Lawrence's life is looking good. She was thrilled to take her handsome husband's arm and waltz onto the dance floor at her goddaughter's wedding — wearing a beautiful new ball gown that fit like a dream.