Patty Altermatt, Clinical Receptionist, Ophthalmology, has a heart of gold. Whether it was her children, husband or seven siblings, she’s lived most of her life taking care of others, often at the expense of her own health. It wasn’t until her children left for college that she decided to carve out some time for herself, especially since she no longer liked what she was seeing in the mirror. Between her asthma, high cholesterol, and a growing BMI, she knew it was critical to make a change. Coming from a family with a strong history of heart disease, a sister requiring a heart valve replacement and husband with cardiomyopathy, she decided that she wanted to start down a path to live a happier and healthier and healthier life.
Change did not come easy, though. She shares that, “Not long ago, I used to walk my dog holding a leash out the car window while driving around. Never in a million years would I have thought I could run a mile, let alone a half marathon.” Petrified to step foot in a gym, she found the courage to join her local YMCA. She recalls how she felt the first time she stepped on a treadmill, afraid of what others thought while they ran and she struggled to walk. A friend talked her into signing up for a 5K in April, 2013, promising to walk with her. At the start line, her friend ran off while Patty “cried, screamed and yelled,” but she put one foot in front of the other and walked the 3.1 miles on her own. Fifty-two minutes later, she crossed the finish line, feeling an overwhelming sense of accomplishment, something she never believed she would ever experience.
This provided her with the confidence she needed to begin to change her life. She began to work out regularly, using exercise as a way to relieve stress rather than be the cause of it. She returned to the same 5K a year later, finishing in 38 minutes. Since then, she’s run 25 of them along with the Boston 10K. This past February at age 53 and alongside her daughter, nieces and 65 year old sister, she completed the Disney Glass Slipper Challenge, completing a 5K, 10K and half marathon over three days! She’s currently taking swimming lessons so she can tackle her next challenge- a triathlon! Along with her newfound love of exercise, she began to make dietary changes- trading in daily fast food for home-cooked meals. She food shops on Sunday and makes her meals for the week. Ninety pounds lighter and off her cholesterol and asthma medications and her sleep apnea machine, she’s became a role model, empowering others to believe in themselves. She’s even started a local walking group through Facebook and led a team for the American Heart Association’s Greater New Haven Heart Walk where she was also recognized with a Lifestyle Change Award. While she gets overwhelmed at the thought that anyone would consider her an inspiration, her passion is to empower others to find their own inner strength to make positive lifestyle changes and love life.