#001 – Heart Attack At 35 Years Old
Superstar TV presenter of Soccer AM and funny man ‘Tubes’ – real name Peter Dale – has battled through alcohol addiction, quit smoking and has lost so much weight that his ‘moobs’ have disappeared. But, nothing has been quite so extraordinary than his recent recovery from an unexpected and near fatal heart attack at the age of just 35.
Words by Philippa Hennessy
Q: Where were you physically when we met?
A: I was unhealthy and overweight, had man boobs, flabby sides and my face was massive. Physically, I was in a terrible state and smoking about 20 cigarettes a day.
Q: How did you find me?
A: I had decided I wanted to get fitter and change my life. You were a Personal Trainer I had seen locally in Cobham and been following on Instagram. You were different from most ‘fitness gurus’ and seemed like a good laugh so I asked you to help me. We did an introduction and I really enjoyed it – you trained me twice a week for about 18 months.
Q: Did you regularly weigh yourself?
A: No – I could feel the weight go – I lost around two stone in 18 months.
Q: I got you into boxing, weight training and cardio – a lot of people don’t realise that doing weights will help you to lose body fat. What was your long-term goal?
A: I wanted to get rid of all the ‘chub’. And I did… even my ‘man boobs’!
Q: Tell me about your heart attack – it was so sudden – how long ago was it?
A: It was at the end of January this year – a huge shock. I was in the shower when I felt these stabbing pains and my arms went numb. I ended up collapsing in my front room. I was rushed to hospital and the doctors saved my life – heroes. I didn’t know it, but I had a large hole in my heart.
Q: Were there any signs; did you experience any symptoms?
A: I’d joined a gym and started running 5K on the treadmill once a week. After a few runs and only a couple of kilometres in, my legs started to seize up. I’d then go on the bike and they’d be fine. Without knowing it, the clot had already formed. You can’t predict it, but if your family has a history of heart problems then do get yourself checked out. My dad and his dad both suffered heart attacks– it’s genetics – and my former life didn’t help. You can’t predict it, but you can try and prevent it.
Q: What did the doctors say?
A: They told me that if I hadn’t taken up exercise when I did, I may not have been strong enough to recover. Yet despite my hefty weight loss, there was no stopping the heart attack.
Q: How has your life changed?
A: I’ve had to make some big lifestyle changes, such as giving up smoking for good and I haven’t drunk for over 2 years. I have to take 12 pills every day for one year – some slow down the heart and some slim down the heart. I could go on all day about what each pill does. One thing I haven’t given the boot is coffee and I don’t plan to.
When the doctors told me that the one thing I couldn’t do was to go scuba diving, I laughed and jokingly told them I had a session booked on the River Mole. I thought that they were going to tell me I couldn’t play football again, not scuba dive, which I’ve never done in my life!
Q: What’s your exercise regime now?
A: It’s hard to follow a strict routine with the different demands of my job. Generally though I’m quite active – if I can, I’ll go to fight club on Tuesdays, I see you on Monday for weight training, I play football on Wednesdays and play 11-a-side on Sundays. Luckily I didn’t put on too much weight after the heart attack.
Q: What’s your vision for the future?
A: I’d like to run a half marathon, but it’s not recommended at the moment – I’ll have to see how I am when I come off the pills in the new year. Now I don’t get out of breath which I think is because of the pills, but could perhaps be because I’m a fitter. Time will tell. I’d like to do some kind of fitness challenge to prove that it’s possible to return to an active lifestyle after something like a heart attack, and raise money for charity at the same time.
Q: What’s your message to anyone who is recovering from a heart attack?
A: Enjoy life, take things slowly, don’t push yourself to the limit. Everyone’s different. I was fortunate to go through a great rehab programme, which included mindfulness and mental workshops.
Pete’s life may have changed, but in many ways, it’s changed for the better. And one thing’s for sure, he’s hung on to his witty, dry sense of humour that we all love and, he remains as passionate about the game of football than ever before. As he says: “Foooooooootball!”