Local businesswoman touts benefits of exercise, eating right

Rachel Revill, featured, health

BY THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION

Business owner Rachel Revill believes in the power of a positive mindset. She leads a busy life as Chief Solutions Officer of Tampa-based PerfecTiming Concierge LLC, assisting clients to achieve a better work-life balance. Revill reads inspirational scripture daily and credits her optimistic outlook to making mindful healthy choices that involve exercising and eating nutritious foods.

Rachel Revill, health, featuredHer family history motivates Revill, who is an American Heart Association Go Red For Women® ambassador, to embrace a healthy lifestyle. In 1999, Revill’s mother Willie Bell Revill died three weeks following a massive stroke. According to the American Heart Association, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming nearly 130,000 lives annually.

Women can reduce their risk of stroke and heart disease by taking control of their health through learning about their family history, “knowing their numbers” (blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and body mass index (BMI)) and making simple lifestyle changes.

A family history of stroke can increase a woman’s chance of having one, yet 80 percent of cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, are preventable.

Growing up, Revill says she and her family did not follow guidelines for healthy eating. They avoided exercise and indulged in “rich, seasoned food.” She remembers herself as “a chubby little kid.”

“I grew up in the South on a farm. Our exercise regimen was maintaining the farm and helping our dad in his business,” Revill explains.

Revill’s family was also unaware of the signs of stroke and thought it would not happen to them. Incidentally, her mother lived with hypertension, which increases a person’s risk of stroke.

“In retrospect, I remember going home a month before mom had the massive stroke; her smile was slightly twisted,” she recalls. “I knew it was off, but everyone said mom was okay. She was mom, nurturer, caretaker, superwoman who took care of everybody and everything, like she typically did, so nothing was said, no action was taken.”

Her mother’s stroke spurred Revill to seize control of her health.

“For three weeks I watched my mother, this strong, independent woman, rely on me, my siblings and the hospital staff to do everything for her. Losing my mother provoked me to change and create healthy habits,” Revill says.

The life Revill leads today includes a diet rich in vegetables and protein, both of which help her maintain her energy during long, stressful days. Despite her hectic workload, she makes time to choose meals like salmon and salads.

“Eating healthy is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change,” Revill exclaims.

Revill understands food plays an important role in Southern culture and that some may feel hesitant about modifying what they eat.

“Some of the responses I would hear when I went to churches and places where African Americans would gather were ‘but we’ve always eaten this way,’ and ‘how do you cook collard greens with turkey rather than ham hocks?’” Revill says.

While changing eating habits can be daunting, small changes can go a long way. The American Heart Association recommends people limit their sodium intake and increase their consumption of fruit and vegetables. Revill believes being mindful of optimal health and choosing heart-healthy foods is critical.

Aside from focusing on healthy eating, Revill relies on exercise to balance her stress level. She cites the fact that an inactive lifestyle is a hazardous one.

“Exercising changes our body physically and mentally as well,” she declares. “If you’re moving, your heart is getting healthy, you feel better, more energized.”

Revill wants others to understand the benefits of healthy living. She hopes her story and her mother’s story will inspire other women to take better care of themselves.

“Mom’s been gone since 1999, and I miss her dearly every day,” Revill says. “If I can help save one life, or enhance someone’s quality of life, I want to do that.”

On Friday, Feb. 2, the Tampa Bay area will “Go Red” to recognize the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day® and spread awareness about the impact cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, have on all women. To learn more, visit www.goredforwomen.

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