Alan Entin, PhD, admits he was a walking time bomb. With a family history of heart disease, a diagnosis of diabetes and a scale that ticked up steadily over the years, the 63-year-old family psychologist from Richmond, Va., figured "it was only a matter of time" before he'd experience a serious heart problem.
He was right. At last year's APA Annual Convention, shortly before he was to accept the Distinguished Psychologist of the Year Award from Div. 42 (Independent Practice), Entin had a heart attack.
It could have killed him, but instead it made him stronger. After angioplasty, the successful insertion of a stent and five days in the hospital, Entin started his new life.
"I don't want to be infirm," he says, explaining his newfound motivation. "As we age, we experience a number of changes in our functioning that take away from who we were and who we want to be. I want to stave off those changes."
Among his first priorities was trimming the number of hours he spent at his practice. "Overall, I spend one day less per week at work," he says. "I try not to make it the focus of my life." On Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, from 8 to 10 a.m., instead of being in the office, he's on the exercise machines in cardiac rehab. "My workouts are scheduled, just like my appointments," he says. His regular stints on the treadmill, rowing machine, step machine and arm ergometer have given him more energy and helped him shed pounds. But he admits, "I hate it, I really hate it. It takes me two hours to get an hour's worth of aerobic exercise in."
Entin is also eating smarter, managing his diabetes and making heart-healthy choices. He doesn't count calories; rather, he's focused on portion control and better selections. "My wife Phyllis is constantly reading cookbooks and nutrition information to make sure that the foods she buys are all low in sodium, cholesterol and fat," he says.
Another essential component in Entin's healing equation is striking a balance between work and play. "We recognize the serious business of play for children, but we seldom schedule leisure time activities for ourselves," he comments. "We are the victims of burnout, always giving, and giving more than we receive, seldom replenishing our own resources."
He's found his balance by spending more time with his wife and making more time for his longtime love of photography.
His commitment to a revamped lifestyle has paid off. He's down 40 pounds.
What does he miss about his old lifestyle? "Nothing," he asserts at first, but adds, "at times I do miss a good hamburger--and the dieticians say I can have one--but if it's only 4 ounces, it's really not worth it."