Special to the American Heart Association
Annabelle Jimenez knew that she needed to make a change. In 2015, she weighed close to 400 pounds, was experiencing high cholesterol, high blood pressure and was borderline diabetic. All signs pointed toward a potentially devastating cardiac emergency. Since then, the 37-year-old mother from Queens has embarked on a life-changing journey to improve her health before it is too late.
As she puts it, she decided to change her life for the better.
This month, Jimenez reached an important milestone: she has lost 175 pounds, which means she shed nearly half of her body weight in less than three years. She credits her son and her family for inspiring her to take control of her health.
“I am determined to be around for my son,” Jimenez says. “I want to show him how to be healthy and I refuse to let him fall into an unhealthy lifestyle. I’m determined to be a good example for my family.”
Jimenez admits that her extended family has a long history of diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol and hypertension. According to the American Heart Association, those risk factors increase a women’s likelihood of experiencing a heart attack or stroke.
How did she lose the weight?
On August 29, 2015 Jimenez underwent a relatively common form of bariatric surgery called gastric bypass surgery, which is a surgical procedure that makes the stomach smaller and reroutes the intestines. That was the easy part. After her surgery, she completely reformed her eating habits and started a regular workout regimen.
“I began eating clean and searching for healthier options,” she says. “I never thought I would say this, but I now have a personal trainer and I currently workout six days a week, doing kickboxing, and a program called Warrior boot camp.”
Jimenez also influenced her husband and son to improve their lifestyle as well.
“At home I am now very strict with what I feed my loved ones,” she says. “I do not deprive them of food they enjoy, but I look for healthier options, like fruit and vegetables. I always tell them that a diet is temporary, but a lifestyle change is permanent. We’re all in this together!”
Go Red For Women New York Lifestyle Change Award
On Friday, March 2, 2018, Jimenez was recognized for her commitment to improving her health and the health of her loved ones. She received the New York Lifestyle Change Award presented by Macy’s at the 2018 Go Red For Women Luncheon in New York City.
“As a national sponsor of the Go Red For Women movement, Macy’s is proud to present the New York Lifestyle Change Award to Annabelle because she is an inspiration,” said Molly Langenstein, Executive Vice President, Group Business Manager, Ready-to-Wear, Macy’s. “She embodies everything the Go Red For Women movement represents: knowledge, empowerment and improving your community’s health.”
The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign is a year-round movement that harnesses the energy, passion, and power women have to band together to collectively wipe out heart disease and stroke, the number one and number five killers of women.
“Receiving the Lifestyle Change Award and participating in the Go Red For Women Luncheon was a momentous step on this journey,” Jimenez said. “I have come a very long way and I will continue pushing to reach my full potential, but my journey is not over yet!”
Jimenez says that her journey has given her a new-found passion to help and encourage others to take control of their health. She is currently working to obtain her certification to become a personal trainer and weight loss specialist.
“I feel happier than I have ever been,” she says. “There is so much enjoyment when you are able to reach your goals. I honestly believe that once someone is serious about changing their life and take on the challenge of enduring a difficult road, success can be achieved.”
To support the Go Red For Women movement in New York City, please visit nycgored.heart.org