I had a heart attack in 2009 after giving birth to my son. Now I live with postpartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM). Nobody knows what their future holds. I never thought about my heart health, and now it’s something I think about every day.

After having a heart attack, your life can turn upside down. I’ve been lucky. My world hasn’t changed too much. A lot of the time when I share my story, people are surprised to learn I’ve had a heart attack.

My journey with heart disease is my story and I don’t mind sharing it. I hope that it encourages others to start taking their heart health seriously by making the right lifestyle changes.

Each day, I wake up feeling blessed. I thank God for giving me another day of life. I like to get up before my family so I have time to pray, read my daily devotion, and practice gratitude.

After some time to myself, I’m ready to wake up the family and start the day. Once everyone is up, I get to exercise (I say “get to” because some people aren’t as lucky). I work out for about 30 minutes, usually doing a combination of cardio and strength training.

By the time I’m finished, my husband and son are off for their day. I take my daughter to school.

When I get back home, I shower and rest a bit. When you have heart disease, you’re easily fatigued. This is especially true if you do exercise. I take medication to help me during the day. Sometimes the fatigue is so intense that all I can do is sleep. When this happens, I know I have to listen to my body and get some rest. If you’re living with a heart condition, being able to listen to your body is key to your recovery.

When you’re a heart attack survivor, you have to be extra mindful of your lifestyle habits. For instance, you’ll have to follow a heart-healthy diet to avoid having a future heart attack or other complication. You might want to plan your meals in advance. I always try to think ahead in case I’m away from home during mealtime.

You’ll need to stay away from salt as much as possible (which can be a challenge since sodium is in nearly everything). When I prepare food, I like to swap out salt with herbs and spices to flavor my food. Some of my favorite seasonings are cayenne pepper, vinegar, and garlic, among others.

I like to do a full work out in the morning, but you should also live an active lifestyle. For example, take the stairs in place of the elevator. Also, you could bike to work if your office is close enough.

Throughout the day, my internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD) keeps track of my heart in case of an emergency. Luckily, it’s never been alerted. But the sense of security it offers me is priceless.

Recovering from a heart attack isn’t easy, but it’s possible. Your new lifestyle might take some getting used to. But in time, and with the proper tools, things like eating well and exercising will come much easier to you.

Not only is my health important to me, but it’s also important to my family. Staying on top of my health and on track with my treatment will allow me to live longer and spend more time with the people who love me the most.

Chassity is a forty-something-year-old mom of two awesome kids. She finds time to exercise, read, and refinish furniture to name a few things. In 2009, she developed peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM) after having a heart attack. Chassity will be celebrating her tenth anniversary as a heart attack survivor this year.