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My Health Scare

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Today’s post is very personal, so if you don’t like that sort of thing, feel free to skip it.
In my red velvet pancake post, last week, I brought up heart health and how it’s important to take care of one’s heart. What I didn’t mention was:

I once took my own heart for granted.

Awhile back, I wrote a post about my weight and diet.

The post briefly referred to a time when I overdid it on the running while simultaneously—and accidentally–underdoing it on the eating. But I never elaborated much on what happened. Since I’m trying to be more personal on the blog, I thought I should tell more of the story, especially so none of you ever take your hearts for granted like I did:

It was in high school. I was big into athletics, playing both varsity soccer and tennis. One day, a track coach happened to see me and thought—because I was so small and yet in such good shape—I’d make a good runner. As soon as I started running, I was hooked! I would run and run and run. Right off the bat I was one of the fastest, and that kind of instant success really went to my head. It instilled in me a desire to practice even harder and longer.

But nobody remembered to tell me just how many calories runners burn. At this time in my life, I knew nothing about nutrition, was always running from one activity to another, and would eat whatever I could get my hands on when I had a rare free moment… Of course, I’d also *just* switched to a vegan diet, which meant I was inadvertently taking in fewer calories simply because I’d fill up on bulky foods. Double whammy.

I didn’t realize I was losing weight—weight I couldn’t afford to lose—until people started taking my mom aside and asking if I was ok. She hadn’t noticed either; when you see someone every day, it’s hard to notice a gradual change. She appeased their fears by answering, “Oh, Katie’s just like I was as a kid: always eating, never gaining an ounce. Who knows where it all goes?!” But as more and more people continued to approach her, we had to face facts: something wasn’t right.

We booked an appointment with the pediatrician, who confirmed I’d lost a lot of weight. But then she also told me something else: My heart rate was extremely low, as was my blood pressure. I’d never heard the words bradycardia or hypotension before, but just the mention of such grandiose medical terms terrified me. (I think, if I remember correctly, my resting heart rate was 42bpm. I won’t even tell you my blood pressure!)  The pediatrician referred me to a cardiologist.

That week between doctor visits was the scariest of my life. Imagine having to go about your daily routine, focusing on fractions and friends, worried all the while that you might have a dangerous heart defect. Obviously, I wasn’t running at this point; in fact, I was afraid to move at all! I was even afraid to go to sleep at night!

Finally, the day of the cardiology appointment arrived. After performing an EKG, they stuck a bunch of stickers on me, squirted some freezing-cold blue gel on a probe, and rubbed the gel around my stomach for half an hour.  Then, after what seemed like hours of waiting (because I was so nervous), the cardiologist came in. Turns out my low heart rate wasn’t a problem. (Athletes often have heart rates in the 40s. Even now, mine is usually in the low 50s.) But he did advise me to gain back the weight I’d lost before I started running again; I’d been feeling sluggish and dizzy, and my low blood pressure #s were troublesome.

Happy ending: I took his advice, got healthy, and when I came in for my follow-up, six months later, he told me I could even run a marathon if I so desired. (Thanks anyway, doc. I did not so desire.)

The reason I’ve never shared this before with is because I was embarrassed to admit how I took my health for granted and risked doing serious damage simply due to lack of proper care of my body. But I’m smarter for it– if I feel like something isn’t right, I won’t ever ignore it again like I did with the dizziness, sluggishness, and friends’ voiced concerns in high school.

My body is amazing, and that’s why I honor it every single day: with healthy foods (but only if they’re also delicious), with enjoyable exercise, and–above all–with plenty of good-quality rest.

Edit: Yes, I know there are a lot of disgusting rumors circulating about me online. For my own sanity, I’ve blocked some of the worst gossip sites so I can’t look at what the trolls are saying anymore. The rumors I saw in the past were either half-truths or (more often) full-blown, hurtful, and seriously ridiculous lies made up by people who have never even met me. There’s not a way to edit the stuff said on other sites—and it’s a free country so people have a right to say what they want. But please remember to consider the source when you read something. Anyone can say anything online, but that doesn’t make it true. If you’re ever wondering about something, just ask. I’m not trying to be devious or hide anything in my life.

(And yes, I know a lot of people are finding this page because Google decided to give out “chocolate covered katie anorexic” and “chocolate covered katie eating disorder” as suggested search terms. Unfortunately I can’t do anything about that either; it’s self-perpetuating. People are always going to click on it out of curiosity.)

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 
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  1. hippierunner says:

    Thank you for sharing Katie! Nothing to be embarassed about- you simply didn’t know better! I had similar experience-running, not weighing enough, heart health scare. I feel like that is a time where it would’ve been best for adults to notice and help but they just don’t realize what’s going on often enough (sadly). I’m glad you’re better now! 🙂

  2. Freya says:

    Thank you so much for sharing that. I had a heart scare few years ago too, when Iwas very ill with my ED – it was scary! But thankfully I think I’m ok now, and I’m glad you are too!
    Heart health isn’t something to be messed with…:s

  3. Katie, this is such a strong story thank you for sharing. When I’m in swimming and running season (swimming 12+ hours a week) and running 50+ miles, my resting heart rate is also in the very low 40s.

    You are an incredible and inspirational athlete! Thank you for sharing girl.

  4. Oh my, what a horrifying experience! I’m so glad everything turned out fine in the end. You are a strong girl! 🙂

  5. VeggieGirl says:

    Thank you for sharing your story and thank goodness you’re okay!

  6. Katie, you are amazing. I think it is SO brave of you for sharing this, and what you went through sounds so scary!! You are so inspirational for so many reasons, but most of all for your positive outlook on life.

    I did my heart a favour this morning. I gave it some love CCK-style with some red velvet pancakes 🙂

    LOVE YOU girlie, and thanks for being SUCH an INSPIRATION to me! 😀

    1. Ahhh you made the pancakes?! How much do I love you, girl? Almost enough to get on the next plane to the UK to visit, even though I’m terrified of flying. I need to meet you!
      Love from your stalker ;).

      1. Annie says:

        Aww to both of you!!! This comment section is full of love!!!

  7. katie says:

    Katie!

    I am so glad you published this, it is true that we do take our health/bodies for granted and we only have one so we have to honor it and treat it right ; )

    life is all about lessons, and Im glad that you went and got checked out when this happened to you, and now you learned from it and know to never not fuel your body the right way ; )

    So glad you shared this, we all have had struggles in our lives, love you!

  8. Girl I love you times a million. You are so, so strong and beautiful, and don’t you ever forget that! It warms my heart that you shared this with us, it must have taken so much courage. I have been through an eating disorder that I have yet to address on my blog, because I am terrified of talking about something so personal and not knowing who could possibly read it! Stay strong love dove! <3

  9. Kudos to you for sharing your story. So many women neglect heart health, and we need to remember it is VERY important AND heart issues affect women at a higher rate than men!

  10. That was beautiful girl!

    Thank you for sharing this! It has really changed me for the better. 🙂

    This is an excellent example of finding balance with yourself. 🙂

  11. Hannah says:

    It’s really sweet of you to share that:)
    I kinda had a similar experience with that this past year. When I get really stressed out, my appetite just goes away, a few quarters ago it got bad and I was losing too much weight. I was scared to go to bed too! My heart was always beating really funny and my hair started falling out. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I was embarrassed. Here I was acting like I have it together and under control when my body was falling apart. Eventually I talked to someone about it. I gained the weight back and switched to a vegan diet! Now I’m happy and have energy all the time. So much better then being stressed and unknowingly starving.

  12. Thank you for sharing your story Katie! I am so glad you are ok and figured out what works best for your body. I think those of us that workout, sometimes can’t see that we need to make changes for the physical activity we are doing. I over did that a while back, but I was also breast feeding and ultimately ended up with an abdominal tumor so I had a lot of factors that led to a massive amount of weight loss. Sharing your story helps people be more aware of health in general and that you should always check yourself…even if you are healthy! Thanks Katie!

  13. Marina says:

    Thank you for sharing this! It’s so easy to get distracted and stop caring about your own health, isn’t it?
    I had a health scare, but because I’ve lost my weight intentionally. I don’t ever wanna go back to that blurry feeling, low bp, and heart that hurts with every beat.

  14. Oh Katie, I’m so glad you’re okay! We all do take our bodies for granted sometimes, and forget to nourish it properly. But you’ve come out all the better for it! Thanks for being such an inspiration.

  15. Katie- im so so glad you shared this with us.. most importantly, im SO glad you were and still are okay! that must have been the most nerve-racking and scariest week of your life- im just so glad you got GOOD news! Health scares are pretty darn scary…. but i think that is what transforms us into the people we are today.. making health an even bigger priority than it ever was and treating our bodies even better than we would have if nothing had happened..!
    I’m so so so glad you shared this and I’m even MORE glad that your heart is healthy!

    on a lighter note… i just made your cream cheese icing for muffins and it was FAB 😀

    1. Ahhh yay! I saw your tweet about those chocolate carrot cupcakes and I was intrigued. Now I’m even more excited to see your post! 🙂

  16. Susan says:

    Katie you’re awesome!

    I’m so happy that you’re A) healthy and B) brave enough to share such a personal story!

  17. Albizia says:

    We all tend to take things for granted until we are threatened to lose them. I admit I’ve also done it and I’ve done it more than once. When I look back, I see how much my stress-coping mechanisms have damaged my health and I feel a little ashamed because I have always been fighting for a better life and it seems that the fight itself is ruining this dreamt life. Ironic, isn’t it? And I really have to take a good care of my heart because my brother has a hereditary heart disease so if I do something to my perfectly healthy (I hope) heart, my parents will never forgive me.

    Anyway, the most important thing is that you learned something from your mistake and changed for the better. Thank you for sharing this.

  18. Kelly says:

    I know it’s hard to be completely “out there” on your blog and I’m always so impressed with people who manage to do this and maintain their dignity and grace. Katie, you are such a remarkable young lady. I hope you continue to write what you want to write about, even if it’s difficult. Your readers will only love you more for it.

  19. Gaby says:

    Katie, you should never be embarrassed to share things about yourself! These events define who you are and have become and we all love you for it!
    I’m so glad you’re better, I can only imagine how scary that must have been at such a young age. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned my story in any of our previous messages but I went through a health scare at 21 with my gallbladder and also lost of ton of weight PLUS felt horrible. And it’s terrifying at that age (yes even 21) because I was still naive and young and up to that point had taken my health for granted. I had never had to pay attention to my body or health or how to take care of it because everything just ran by itself so smoothly. Until something like this happens you take it all for granted, especially as a child, thinking you will live forever. I was terrified, I had no idea what was wrong with me, or how to make it better. I felt guilty because my friends and family were so afraid for me and even questioned myself thinking maybe I had done something wrong, I hadn’t taken care of myself, etc.
    At the time it was the worst thing that could have happened to me, but now I know that it’s part of what has shaped me. I’ll never take my health for granted again, my body or my ability to enjoy day to day life.
    I’m also happy that you have found a way to continue doing a sport you love while eating a diet rich in foods that you love to support it! Can’t wait for more nut butters!

  20. Maryann says:

    Katie thank you for sharing your story! It was great to learn and little more about you. And of course, Im so glad everything turned out to be ok!