At the age of 66, Pamela Heffernan goes to Zumba twice a week, sings with a tap-dancing senior choir, performs ballroom dances to her favorite Elvis songs, and doesn’t miss an episode of Dr. Phil.
As a proud grandmother, and as a woman in her late sixties, Pamela Heffernan certainly doesn’t act her age. As a matter of fact, growing old for Pamela means that she just gets to enjoy life that much more.
Born in Buffalo, New York in 1944, Pamela has always possessed a zest for life, and has always been an independent and strong-willed person.
As a child, Pamela never had any issues with weight. Growing up, she was always very active and loved to play outdoors in her suburban neighborhood.
As she grew older and progressed through school, Pamela always knew she wanted a career where she could combine her outgoing personality with her passion for medicine. A career aptitude test in high school actually confirmed that this passion was something worth pursuing.
“When I took a career test in high school, it said that I had a very altruistic personality, which is a desirable trait for a career in the medical field. It was nice to have the reassurance that I was headed on the right track.”
In a decade where women were expected to be house wives or office secretaries, Pamela challenged the norm, and promised herself that she would do everything she could to become a registered nurse.
“The thought of being a secretary, or a stay-at-home wife just didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to do more, and I wanted to make a difference in my career.”
At the age of 18, Pamela left her childhood home in Buffalo to pursue her career at the Auburn Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Auburn, New York. While pursuing her career in nursing, Pamela put her passion and determination into her education, and gave her heart to a wonderful man.
In 1965, Pamela became a registered nurse, and in 1966, a devoted wife. For a woman who thought marriage wouldn’t come until after her career, Pamela quickly adjusted to her new role as a wife.
For many years, Pamela led, what most would consider to be, the perfect life. She had a successful career, a devoted husband, and two wonderful sons, Brett and Randy. After years of bliss and happiness, Pamela’s family was hit with a sudden and terrifying circumstance that left their lives broken and fragile.
“My husband was suddenly diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1973. This is when my struggle with weight really began. For many years, I acted as the primary caregiver. I took care of the children, I worked, and I kept a clean house. It was a difficult time, so I used food to cope with the stress and the pain. I became an emotional eater.”
Treatments and support helped Pamela and her family cope with her husband’s condition. After a long and difficult battle with Multiple Sclerosis, Pamela’s husband passed away in 1996 at the age of 54.
Consumed with grief for her husband, Pamela again turned to food for comfort, and sunk even further into depression.
Pamela’s battle with food continued for over a decade, but became even more difficult when another tragedy suddenly rocked her world.
Just six months after she retired in 2007, Pamela’s oldest son, Randy, committed suicide. He was only 39 years old.
“I have always been a fighter, but even the strongest spirits can become crippled and broken. For almost a year, I didn’t want to go on. I was grieving so much. Both for my husband, and for my son. I never pictured my life without them, and living with that painful reality took me to a dark place.”
As a child and as a young woman, Pamela never had a problem with weight until after she gave birth to her youngest son, and as she went through menopause in her late 40’s. These influences, combined with the sudden deaths of her husband and her son caused Pamela to put on more weight than she ever had. Before long, Pamela weighed over 200 pounds.
“Food was such a comfort to me. After a while, though, I just felt lazy and hopeless. I didn’t like the way I felt, and I decided that it was time to start taking care of myself again.”
With some help from her local church family, close friends, and with spiritual guidance from her pastor, Pamela had all of the motivation and inspiration she needed to tackle her weight issues.
With a new attitude, Pamela found the solution to her weight loss problems by tuning in to one of her favorite shows.
As a dedicated fan of Dr. Phil, Pamela has never missed an episode, and took notice when the good doctor started endorsing a diet home delivery program called bistroMD.
“I thought, ‘if Dr. Phil recommends it, then it must be good,’ so I decided to give bistroMD a try.”
Since starting the program several months ago, Pamela has managed to lose 15 pounds, and she is more active that she has ever been.
Pamela is finally enjoying life again, and has been able to practice her favorite passions and hobbies that make life that much sweeter.
“I have always loved to sing. I joined a traveling senior choir that visits the local nursing homes to entertain the residents. My close friend, George, and I have also taken up ballroom dancing. We love to ballroom dance to classic Elvis songs.”
Other than ballroom dancing with George and traveling with a senior choir, Pamela’s improved energy levels have motivated her to participate in a fitness craze that has her attending classes twice a week.
Every week, Pamela participates in Zumba classes at her local gym. Pamela may be 66, but don’t let her age fool you.
“There a ton of younger people in my classes, and it makes me feel great that I can keep up with them. I can’t do everything they can, but I certainly give it all that I got. I slow down sometimes, but when I hear my instructor say, ‘just keep moving’ I do exactly that.”
Out of all her loss and tragedy, Pamela still has a certain someone she can depend on as a constant source of joy and hope.
Pamela’s eight year old granddaughter, Lorelei, loves to play with her grandma. In the winter, they go sledding all day, and in the summer, they play outside for hours.
“Having the energy to play with Lorelei has brought me more joy than anything. She inspires me every day to keep going and to keep making healthier choices.”
Other than Elvis, singing, ballroom dancing, and playing with Lorelei, Pamela has found yet another source of happiness. It is something so good that when it arrives at her doorstep, she has to hide it from her friend, George.
“Sweet potato pancakes,” she says. “It's my favorite meal from bistroMD, and George is always trying to steal them from me.”