Waking on a Saturday morning, in 2010, Lilian Tsi Stielstra recalls feeling tired, but brushed it off as stress from her demanding bank sales job.
Walking up the stairs, she felt “pins and needles” in her left leg. A few minutes later, her left arm had the same sensation. Then the left side of her face felt numb. “I realized it was a stroke because it was all on one side,” she said.
Six months earlier, Lilian had been diagnosed with high blood pressure, a leading risk factor for strokes and heart attacks. Being an overweight woman with a stressful, sedentary lifestyle also increased her risk of stroke. Tests after the stroke showed that she also had high cholesterol and high triglycerides, which are also risk factors.
Although Lilian, now 53, has no residual effects from the stroke, her neurologist recommended that she walk for 30 minutes a day. “My excuse for many years was that I didn’t have time to exercise,” said Lilian. She made the time: A neighbor volunteered to walk with her every day at 6AM, holding her accountable.
Within two years of her stroke, she was jogging. Now, Lilian runs about 4 miles a day, farther on weekends. She started swimming and is trying strength training. Lilian has also changed her diet, eating more vegetables and grains, substituting Greek yogurt for ice cream.
Those changes led to a weight loss of about 25 pounds. They also reduced her risk of another stroke.
“I have been able to make the lifestyle changes necessary to be healthier. You have to make a conscious choice to change your lifestyle and have cooperation from your family,” Lilian said. “I want to have a healthy heart so I can be alive for my children’s weddings and my potential grandchildren.
“And because of the support of my co-workers, I was able to ride 25 miles at CycleNation. In total, my team rode 275 miles while raising funds for a great cause. My company is proud to be actively taking care of the community we live in.”
CycleNation empowers people across the country to use road and stationary bikes to get brain and heart healthy — all while raising funds for community programs that will prevent stroke and heart disease.
Join us for CycleNation in Bradley Park in Asbury Park on Sunday, April 7 and help us ignite a health revolution in our community that will create awareness for stroke and heart disease.
Bikes are reserved and space is limited, so sign up now before we are sold out! There will be live music, family-friendly activities, and more!