A self-proclaimed overachiever, Johnson’s fast-paced, high-stress lifestyle only exacerbated her high blood pressure, high cholesterol, adult-onset diabetes and sleep apnea.
“I was working 40 to 60 hours a week as a volunteer and going through a difficult personal time too,” explains Johnson. “I was heading toward a health crisis. I knew I had to change my life. I just didn’t know how.”
A friend suggested the Lifestyle Change Program at Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine. Johnson enrolled in the program and got right to work, exploring her relationships with food, family and fitness.
“I was tired and out of balance but committed to change. I wanted to reduce my numbers and dependence on medications,” says Johnson.
That started with a nutrition and fitness plan. During the second week, however, she arrived at the fitness center feeling nauseous. A nurse took her blood pressure and discovered a very high heart rate. An EKG revealed that Johnson was in atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to stroke or heart failure.
“I truly believe I prevented a heart attack by coming to the center that day because I’m not the type of person to go to the ER with slight nausea,” Johnson notes.
Cardiologist Mimi Guarneri, M.D., controlled Johnson’s arrhythmia with medication, then urged her to wear a CPAP mask every night (to control sleep apnea) and continue working on other preventive measures.
Through hypnosis, meditation, yoga and healing touch, Johnson was able to achieve a new kind of strength and inner peace.
“In the program, I met other high achieving people who provided a mirror for me,” she explains. “This really helped me work through the emotional issues that were getting in the way of my good health.”
Today she is taking more time for herself by journaling, cooking and walking her dog. She is also enjoying more time with her husband.
“Mary has brought her total cholesterol down from 227 to 138,” relays Brenda Rodi, the nurse practitioner who worked most closely with Johnson in the program. “Her LDL has dropped from 126 to 60 and her triglycerides from 202 to 60. Her blood pressure is also much lower.”
What’s best, by taking time for herself, she has more to give to others. “Now that my life is back in balance, I can give back with a full heart,” Johnson adds.