WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- The Iowa Healthiest State Initiative held its first ever statewide awards on Thursday evening with keynote speaker Jamie Pollard, Iowa State University's athletic director.
In 2015, Pollard had a heart attack as he was attending an athletic event at the University of Northern Iowa. He was flown by helicopter to Des Moines, where he had open heart surgery.
“How could Jamie Pollard be in that spot,” he mused at the event. “I was somebody that was a collegiate runner, I ran my whole life, very competitive, very active, I continued to run after my after my college days.”
Doctors told Pollard had he not been in shape, he would not have survived a tear that led to his heart attack.
“At 50 years old, I’m an old house. I’m an old house, and that’s essentially what happened to me,” said Pollard. “Took a 50-year-old body, put junk in it, didn’t have very good pipes, and didn’t process stress very well.”
Pollard said he really appreciated the work of Healthiest State Initiative, as he knows he’s not the only one needing a lifestyle change.
“So my outlook on the whole point of activity being active has completely changed, from something that I did because maybe I was good at it and I want to be competitive at it, but never once thought about the value of it,” said Pollard. “And I always thought I was invincible, so I never really thought about the damage I was doing to myself by making unhealthy choices.”
Now, Pollard has learned the meaning of the word moderation. He says no to some foods, but not always.
“I would argue that stress, or how you react to stress, may be one of the biggest causes of what really happens with heart attacks.”
Pollard still runs, and completed a half marathon last fall. Now, though, he knows it’s okay if someone passes him. He’s not out to set any records, but rather to enjoy the fact he can still work out.