It’s hard to imagine the tall, lean, smiling Torrance Foreman at 245 pounds and hampered down with a heart condition. That’s where the 42-year-old’s journey to health began. Working long hours doing HVAC maintenance at Regional One Health, Torrance kept himself going on soda and fast food five days a week. The ill effects of his lifestyle caught up with him in 2011.
“I was working and had this feeling that I almost needed to burp. I remember drinking Sprite and some other soda, but nothing helped,” he says. This led to a small, sharp pain, like a knuckle digging into his back. Running into a doctor on his way out of work, he explained his pain to her.
“The pain traveled to my rib cage, and it hurt with every breath.” An immediate EKG showed the situation to be serious. Torrance had suffered an aortic dissection, where the inner layer of the aorta tears. As a result, blood pumps through the tear, and if it ruptures the aortic wall, it can be fatal. In Torrance’s case, he had a 20-40 percent chance of survival.
“Laugh a lot, it’s the best medicine.”
Aortic dissection can be caused by high blood pressure. Torrance realized the impact of his fast food diet and that he needed to make a lifestyle change. Since that day, he hasn’t really touched fast food.
In the year following his surgery, Torrance went on two heart medications and another for cholesterol. The steep price of the medication was motivation enough to improve his health so he could lower his dose.
Torrance started with removing fried food and high sodium items, such as frozen dinners and canned foods. “Eating healthy is expensive, but it was a lot cheaper than the cost of the medicine,” he says. Torrance’s meals focus on fruits and vegetables with smaller portions of meat. He prepares them in advance and takes them to work. Torrance’s wife and four children have also embraced eating healthier and are supportive of the change.
Simply by altering what he eats, Torrance lost 40 pounds and decreased his medication. “After losing the weight I feel more energetic, and having not eaten certain foods for a while, I’ve lost my taste for them. I have much more energy.” His success was enough to get his mom to make similar lifestyle adjustments, although he jokes, “Sometimes she has more cheat days than me.”
Besides his diet, Torrance upped his activity level. He has a home gym where he does strength training. He also wears ankle weights at work and takes the stairs as much as possible.
Throughout the process of regaining his health, Torrance evolved his outlook on life. “Stress was a big part of my health. I was never late to work, and it was always a priority. If you have the time to take off, take off. Don’t stress,” he insists. Torrance has an easiness and openness about him. He says he meditates, which has helped immensely. He adds, “Laugh a lot, it’s the best medicine.”
By Samantha Fong. Photo by Baxter Buck.