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Health is a Choice: Mickie Riley

Mickie Riley before and today

Mickie Riley before and today.

Mickie Riley had it all…A successful business, expensive cars, a loving family and money in the bank. He enjoyed the good life: great friends, good food, expensive wine. He was well known and respected in the community. His life was good.

His entire life, Mickie worked and played to excess. He is an overachiever and considered himself indestructible. He started his first venture at age 12 (a lawn

mower business which included a fleet of friends) and worked his way up to founding the Desert’s Riland Communities in 1989 consisting of 5 real estate businesses, over 400 employees, and $120 million net worth. Mickie was on top of the world.

In the Fall of 2007, Mickie went to his doctor for symptoms of acid reflux, insomnia, and anxiety that he thought were related to stress. The real estate market was changing and getting tougher every day. His doctor recommended tests and told him to come back after the first of the year.

That Christmas was spent with family and friends playing golf, enjoying food, drink, and celebratory cigars. At dinner one night, a relative told Mickie he looked terrible, “much older than a man in his 50’s should look.” For the first time, he stopped and took a good look in the mirror. “I didn’t recognize this person. My family was always telling me I should eat better, drink less, but I never paid attention.” He didn’t know how it happened, but his 170 lb athletic body had ballooned to 230.

On January 2, 2008 he returned to his doctor’s office for a scheduled echocardiogram and additional tests. He left feeling tired, but nothing unusual.

On his way home, the phone rang. The nurse on the other end of the line instructed Mickie to immediately turn around and check into the hospital. “Do not wait,” she said and he started getting nervous. He was admitted immediately and given the news. He had severe atrial fibrillation or abnormal heart rhythm. His heart rate was over 170 and his cholesterol was 300. He was suffering from congestive heart failure and severe acid reflux. Worst of all, his ejection fraction or “heart strength” was only at 15% (anything below 20 qualifies you for a donor heart).

“I don’t know why you are breathing and walking right now,” said Dr. Kazmouz, Mickie’s cardiologist. “If you have blockage in your arteries, there is an immediate surgery we need to do” to which Mickie answered, “Sounds fine.” But it wasn’t fine because, due to his weak heart, Mickie’s chances of survival were 40%.

Mickie looked at his wife, Hansi, and said, “I am so sorry. How could I have done this to you and our family? We are going to lose everything and now I am going to leave you without a husband.” Mickie thought to himself “How selfish have I been with my life? Here I thought I was going to be this wealthy man sharing all I had with my friends, employees and family. And now I am about to leave them all without an employer, a friend, a husband or a father.”

Further tests revealed that for some unknown reason, Mickie’s coronaries had no blockage. However, his heart valves were badly leaking. He didn’t need immediate surgery, but was told he needed to get his heart healthy enough to operate on his values. “If you get your heart strength up to 40%, we can operate.”

From that moment on, Mickie’s life changed. He was given a second chance and decided to put all his energy into turning his body – and his health – around. His priorities shifted and so did his goals.

He started researching all he could. He designed a diet low in fat, salt and sugar and with a variety of nutrients and supplements. Mickie worked exercise back into his daily regime. He and Hansi attended several fitness camps. He lost a good amount of weight and came back to the Desert seeking professional help to keep on track. His primary care physician, Dr. Peter Kadile, recommended the team at Live Well Naturopathic Clinic.

Mickie was on 9 different medications when he left the hospital in January. With guidance from his health care team, he weaned himself off the medicine and focused on diet and exercise. Four months later, his ejection fraction had gone from 15 to 50% (a perfect heart works at 60-65%).

During the same timeframe, real estate took a turn for the worse and Mickie lost all the material things he had worked so hard to acquire – his house in Tradition, his vacation homes at the Lake and in Hawaii and many cherished cars. But as he had quickly come to learn, none of that truly mattered.

Mickie now enjoys life in La Quinta with Hansi. Their new passion is health. They have run 9 half marathons and are training for their first full marathon this Fall. Mickie’s heart is healthy and strong. His cholesterol is 140 with his HDL up and LDL low. His doctors are monitoring, but have foregone that surgery for which he was scheduled.

At 60, Mickie is now truly happier than ever before. He has a team of health care professionals which includes his primary care physician Dr. Kadile, D.O., his cardiologist, Dr. Kazmouz, and his Naturopathic Doctor, Nicole Ortiz. He is on only one heart medication, which he hopes to wean off by the end of the year, and is back at his ‘fighting weight’ of 170.

“My body was badly broken and I should have been dead,” says Mickie. “I came to realize that most of the goals I had set in life didn’t really matter in the end. I was given a second chance and hope to inspire others to make good health a priority.”

Mickie and Hansi launched a new company called Zoetic Health & Fitness. “The goal with our new company is to teach people that it can be done.”

One of the key elements Mickie promotes is taking your health into your own hands.

“Do not let someone else manage your health. You manage your life, your family, your work. You need to manage your health.”

He also emphasizes the importance of an integrated lifestyle. “Integration is about balance. You’ve got to enjoy life. You can’t just eat grass and you can’t overindulge on a regular basis. Western medicine has its place and complementary treatments have their benefits. When they are practiced together, true balance and health can be achieved.”

“My goals in life have changed drastically. Every time I turn around I’m achieving my own personal best. Building health is my goal now and it is no different than building a company. At 60 years old, I am changing my life career from real estate to health and fitness, because I know how important, how life changing, and how life saving it can be.”

You can contact Mickie at Mickie@zoeticfit.com. Zoetic Health and Fitness is a 6 night 7 day all inclusive Health, Fitness and Wellness program held at the beautiful JW Marriott Desert Spring Palm Desert. www.Zoeticfit.com

3 Responses to “Health is a Choice: Mickie Riley”

  1. Terry Clark says:

    Mickie,
    We miss hearing from you. We have have been trying to reach you for months. We have been leaving text messages on your cell phone and text. Maybe you got it changed we have been thinking. If you can give me or Gayl a call or text.
    I am so proud of you. We did not know your health problems in 2008 until I read on line about you. I Thank God for you.

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