In 1977 Joe Piscatella was 32 years old and had everything going for him, until his regular game of tennis ended with a sharp pain shooting through his chest.
A visit to his primary physician immediately sent up red flags for the young husband and father.
“My doctor was so concerned that he closed the doors of his practice that day and drove me to the cardiologist,” he said. “Two days later I underwent emergency coronary bypass surgery.”
With little information on how to change his lifestyle and live a longer life, Piscatella delved into writing his own book, “Don’t Eat Your Heart Out Cookbook.”
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The book changed the landscape for many patients and their families and was the first written on the subjects of diet and cholesterol.
Piscatella is a leading expert on lifestyle habits and health.
Beginning Jan. 18, Piscatella, a Gig Harbor resident who runs the Institute for Fitness and Health at 3615 Harborview Dr. NW, will lead a six-week program, “6 Weeks to a Healthier You,” geared to teaching others how to change their lifestyles and live healthier and longer lives.
The Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce will join forces with the city of Gig Harbor, CHI Franciscan Health, Anytime Fitness, PenMet Parks, Metropolitan Market and others to present the program, which will run through March 2 at a cost of $59 person and will take place at Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The cost covers all sessions, textbook, workbook, exercise bands and food tasting.
Registration can be accomplished by e-mailing the Gig Harbor Chamber of Commerce at firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration is open until Sunday (Jan.15).
Piscatella is passionate about 6 Weeks to a Healthier You and the successes he has seen over the years in folks who attend the six-week sessions.
“We do six weeks for two reasons. People will stick with it because the data is quite clear that you can change a habit for good in six weeks. We take on an important topic once a week for six consecutive weeks,” he said.
Topics include healthy cooking and eating, effective exercise, stress management and creating positive attitudes.
Piscatella stresses that most chronic diseases and conditions in the U.S. come from poor lifestyle habits.
“For every one person who has a heart attack because of bad genes, 400 people have it because of knives and forks,” he said. “In this program we are giving people the tools to make better lifestyle decisions and exercise more control over their own health.”
“Piscatella is one of the nation’s foremost experts on how to live a healthy lifestyle,” Chamber President Warren Zimmerman said.
Piscatella has been writing books and doing lectures since 1982, and he is an inspirational speaker. He is the president of the Institute for Fitness and Health and author of 15 best-selling books. More than 2 million people have attended his programs.
“I continue to do research and write and do speaking and everything that I have done and I do today is helping people to establish and sustain healthy lifestyle habits,” said Piscatella.
Piscatella knows how to go the distance.
“There are no gold medals for the 95-yard dash,” he said. “If you schedule an hour of exercise, you can’t quit halfway through.”