I am the world’s greatest justifier. What I mean by that is that I can justify not doing almost anything. This became even more evident last week. Tuesday and Wednesday I was sick—so Thursday I gave myself a free pass from working out. I told myself that I needed to wait one more day since I’d been sick.

Friday rolled around and my fiancé gets up earlier than I do to work out and on the mornings I do get up, we typically cross paths as he’s coming home and I’m leaving. Friday morning I wasn’t up yet and bless his heart—he tried with all his might to get me up and get me going. But I told him (and myself) that my back hurt from basically laying down for three days and that I’d start again on Monday.

Over the course of the past year this has happened more often times than not. Then all of a sudden three months will go by and I get upset that I haven’t lost weight—go figure. I can sit here and tell you about how much better I feel after I work out, how much more energy I have, how fulfilling it is to weigh yourself and weigh less than the last time you stepped on the scale—but when I want to talk myself out of something it ends up I can be pretty persuasive.

heart weightsThe beginning of this week though, something happened. Something that I think will probably stick with me for a very long time, if not forever. I visited the cardiologist which is one of the perks of being involved with the Go Red for Women Challenge. My labs were good, my blood pressure was great, and then she started calculating my coronary artery disease risk. She asked a series of questions, did some quick math, and then said, “The ONLY reason your risk is less than 1% is because you’re only 30.” Wait, what?

She then explained that my weight combined with the fact that I smoke (more on that later) puts some serious strikes in my column, but that being so young offsets them. If I were to stay this weight and continue to smoke though, as I get older, my risk would increase dramatically.

I’ve never been to a cardiologist, but having her point blank tell me what she did is something I’m glad happened. I’ve never been to a doctor who has been so straightforward about my health. They suggest I need to lose weight, they of course as doctors urge me to quit smoking, but when she put it the way she did—it resonated more. Smoking and being overweight are pretty much the two biggest risk factors for EVERYTHING–we all intuitively know that. But when someone looks you square in the eye and tells you what she told me, it makes you take pause.

I’m currently taking Chantix and I haven’t had a cigarette in two days. I’m also not angry about that which comes as a surprise. Maybe it’s the Chantix itself, or maybe it’s the cardiologist’s warning, or possibly the combination of the two—but I’m ready to not smoke anymore. And therein lies the difference. I’ve quit before, but over the course of the past couple years, I didn’t WANT to. Today that has changed and while non-smokers may not understand it, believe me when I say it’s a big deal.

I’ve also been going to the gym and just this morning pushed myself to places I didn’t even know I could go. As I was working out I saw this quote on a TV screen, “Wow. I really regret that workout. Said no one ever.” And in spite of the fact I was out of breath and dripping sweat, I chuckled because it’s true. Every day that you have the ability to get up and exercise should be a day that you get up and exercise.

“The ONLY reason your risk is less than 1% is because you’re only 30.” I’ll tell you this much. I’ll be darned if I ever let my risk get any higher than that.