In honor of American Heart Month, 32-year-old Shawn Suzuki is sharing his story, in hopes of encouraging others to live a healthier lifestyle.
Today Suzuki makes his health a priority, but that wasn’t always the case.
He said he used to eat whatever he wanted. “Eating cookies, ice cream, a Snickers bar,” he explained. “I’d come home eat half a can of Spam, maybe a can of Spam, three Saimin, and probably two cups of rice,” Suzuki said about his regular diet.
At his heaviest, Suzuki weighed 405 pounds.
In January 2019, he got a wake up call.
“Being that I was so young, I never thought I could ever even have a stroke,” he said.
At just 31, Suzuki had a stroke. A week later, he had another one.
In March of 2019, Suzuki had a third stroke.
“The third one we were driving and I began talking and my wife was like, ‘What the heck are you saying?!'” Suzuki said. “And that one I lost speech, my face drooped a little bit, I lost function in my arm,” he added.
Suzuki said he knew if he did not make a change, it could cost him his life.
Suzuki’s insurance company recommended he go to Ekahi Health to get help. Through the programs and eating a mostly vegan diet, Suzuki lost 100 pounds in one year.
Suzuki said he encourages others who are living an unhealthy lifestyle to take baby steps.
“It is possible. It’s totally possible to just do something small to change,” he said.
According to the CDC, every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a stroke. In Hawaii, heart disease and stroke are two of the leading causes of death.
Ekahi Health said the staggering numbers is why it’s so important to live a heart-healthy lifestyle.
“I think a lot of people take your health for granted until it’s too late,” said Daniel Tanigawa the Director of Business Development for Ekahi Health.
“I get food can be a source of joy, but to me it’s short lived, where as the rest of your life, if you manage and watch what you eat, you can enjoy so many other things,” Tanigawa explained.
Suzuki said that’s a big reason why he’s dedicated to living a healthy life.
“I want to be around for my wife. I want to be around for my family, my future kids,” Suzuki said.