February is Heart Awareness month. In honor of those battling heart disease and the Go Red for Women movement our “Beauty Bits” segment features a fellow Ageist Beauty and heart disease survivor, Pam Coleman. Pam is the 2010 national spokesperson for Go Red for Woman. She is also a 2010 graduate of the Science & Leadership symposium which makes her a WomanHeart Champion. In 2009, Pam had the privilege of appearing on Project Runway where the designers created red dresses for real woman with heart disease. Most recently, she was featured in the February 2012 edition of Woman’s Day magazine where she received a well-deserved makeover. Pam makes it her mission to educate the woman in her life about heart disease.
What is Go Red for Women?
Heart disease claims the lives of nearly 400,000 women in the US each year. Yet many continue to believe the myth that it is a disease that primarily impacts older men. To raise awareness of heart disease as the number one killer of women, the American Heart Association created Go Red for Women – a passionate, emotional, social movement designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health.
Like many women, Pam always wanted to be a mother. She just never imagined her desire to have a child would nearly take her own life. Born with a congenital heart defect, Pam underwent her first open-heart surgery at just seven years-old. As a teen, she had another surgery to replace her aortic valve. That’s when she received the bad news. She was told that she would never be able to have children because of the stress it would put on her heart.
Fast forward a decade, Pam was thrilled when she learned she was pregnant, but her happiness didn’t last long. Just eight weeks in, she started experiencing problems and doctors placed her on bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy. Pam’s big day came early and she felt more fear than joy. She thought she was having pregnancy symptoms – she was having trouble breathing, couldn’t lie down comfortably and had sudden weight gain. In reality, Pam was experiencing heart failure — her doctors found a clot, putting her at severe risk for a stroke. Specialists were called in to plan a complex series of surgeries to deliver her baby and save her life. After an emergency c-section, the baby survived, but Pam found herself back in surgery 24 hours after giving birth to replace her aortic valve. That was 16 years ago. Today Pam and her son are healthy and thriving.
Pam lives an active lifestyle and arranges her schedule around her exercise regime, teaching her son and the women in her life about the importance of good health.
Ageist Beauty: Obviously, health and fitness are important in your life given that you are a heart disease survivor. What is your daily fitness routine?
Pam: I exercise 5 days a week for 1 hour. I do 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of weight training. Whether it’s working out at the gym at work during lunch or after work I make sure this takes priority. In the next few months I will be training for a body sculpting competition. I am not in it to win. I just want to prove to myself that I can do it!
AB: You look amazing, do you have a specific skincare routine to which you adhere?
Pam: Thank you. I am loyal to Clinique’s three-step skin care. I begin with the facial liquid soap, then move to Clarifying Lotion 2, and end with Dramatically Different moisturizing lotion. Once a week, I exfoliate
AB: What do you think is the key to remaining youthful at your age?
Pam: Age is a number and I feel if you take care of yourself (eating healthy and exercising) you stay youthful inside and out.
AB: Do you have any favorite beauty products that you swear by?
Pam: Clinique’s “Take the Day Off” makeup remover. It’s gentle on my eyes and also adds moisture. I always make sure I have extra bottles on hand for when I run out! I also use Perfectly Real foundation for combination skin. It gives me a natural look and evens out my skintone.
AB: Complete this sentence for us – If I were stranded on a deserted island, the one beauty product I would want to have is…
Pam: That’s easy. Neutrogena Lip Moisturizer with sunscreen protection SPF 15. I keep one in my purse, at my desk, in my bathroom, and by my bed. I am constantly re-applying it throughout the day.
AB: As a heart disease survivor, is there one piece of advice you would give Ageist Beauty readers?
Pam: As women, especially mothers, we have a tremendous amount of responsibility in taking care of our family. In doing so, we tend to forget about ourselves and put ourselves last. We need to change our thinking and make sure we are healthy first, so that we can care of our loved ones.
That’s terrific advice. Thanks, Pam!
For more information on the Go Red for Women movement visit: goredforwomen.org
Photo credit: Perry Hagopian/Woman’s Day