Crisamar's Heart Health Story

Crisamar and her husbandCrisamar was borderline hypertensive, prediabetic and suffered from shortness of breath.

Crisamar Anunciado, a diabetes nurse practitioner at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, overcame hypertension and shortness of breath through healthy living.

I was chubby as a child, or "big-boned" as they say. I did not eat horribly, or at least so I thought. I did love food, though. I learned to cook at age 5 and by age 9, I had perfected spaghetti with marinara sauce.

That same year, I moved from my small hometown in the Philippines to live with my grandma in Manila. I was her favorite grandchild and she showered me with love, which often included indulgent treats like fried chicken and McDonald's. By the fourth grade, I was snacking on sugared ham, bacon and white rice. It was not a healthy start to life.

As an adult, my habits hardly improved. I began working as a night shift nurse, which threw my diet way off track. As hard as I tried to adjust to the change, I found myself eating my way through sleepless nights, stress and exhaustion. On two of the most important days of my life — my wedding and the day I graduated with my Master's degree — I weighed a whopping 152 and 172 pounds respectively. Worse, I shared whatever I ate with my husband. My lowest point came at age 34, when I was not only 165 pounds, but also borderline hypertensive, prediabetic, and having shortness of breath from activities as minor as bending down to tie my shoelaces.

 Crisamar and her husband after a recent race
Today, Crisamar and her
husband compete in numerous running and cycling events.

Weight-loss finally came when my husband and I tried in-vitro fertilization. I was checking my blood sugars almost 10 times a day and injecting insulin three to four times a day. While the procedure failed, I lost 20 pounds. I joked that it was an expensive weight-loss program. It wasn't the best way to lose weight, but it set me on the right path.

Today, seven years after that initial weight-loss, I've kept 40 pounds off and my husband has lost 60. Our lives are completely different than before. We've adopted vegetarian diets and eat clean, organic, natural foods. We've also incorporated exercise. Together, we've run more than 32 half marathons and completed four sprint-distance triathlons and five cycling events. Our next goals are to complete full marathons, cycling events of greater than 60 miles, and move up to Olympic-distance triathlons. I've come a long way from that overweight, little girl with a penchant for pasta and fried chicken.

The weight-loss is great, but the better health and improved energy are the best parts of our journey. The prehypertension, prediabetes and shortness of breath are long gone. As a diabetes nurse practitioner at Sharp Chula Vista, I owe it to my patients to be a positive example. Heart disease and stroke have plagued my family for decades; looking at my loved ones and the way I lived my life, I used to hope to live to my 50s or 60s, but now I look forward to an active lifestyle into my 80s and beyond. Perhaps I'll even still be running and cycling.

For More Information
For more information about heart and vascular care at Sharp or to find a Sharp-affiliated doctor, search for a San Diego cardiologist or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm. To find general information about heart and vascular care, visit Cardiovascular Diseases in Adult Health or read the Heart and Cardiovascular News archive.