No excuses: Health condition pushes Dan Buboltz to path of exercise, triumph

NEW ULM – Excuses can be common for some who try to exercise regularly.

But Dan Buboltz doesn’t make excuses. After seven heart attacks, he has no need for them.

The 53-year-old Fairfax native has faced multiple hurdles and setbacks after being diagnosed with idiopathic cardiomyopathy 18 years ago. However, all of those have been overcome thanks to a weekly exercise regimen he started roughly five years ago.

Buboltz is not one of those typical exercise nuts, however. Limited to the use of a walker for mobility, he simply walks on the treadmill at the Anytime Fitness in New Ulm four days a week – a routine that has given him more than just a healthier lifestyle.

“The biggest thing is attitude,” Buboltz said. “You can’t go around feeling sorry for yourself ever because you’re not accomplishing anything. You’re wasting valuable time that you could be either getting better or losing weight or flat-out enjoying life.

“I figure when it’s my time, I’ll go. Until then, I’ll enjoy life.”

The health problems for Buboltz began in June 1996, when he was working as a part-time restaurant manager in the Twin Cities. He collapsed and had a heart attack on what was otherwise a routine day, one he remembers as abnormally hot.

“I remember my boss spotted it and he called 911,” Buboltz said. “That was when everything started and since then, I’ve had quite a few interesting situations with it.”

Cardiomyopathy is classified as a broad term for diseases of the heart that can gradually lead to its failure. For Buboltz, his condition caused his heart to swell up, which eventually weakens it as the condition continues.

Heart rate also increases while it is swollen, which can also largely contribute to the its demise.

In Buboltz’s case, the doctors told him his cardiomyopathy was idiopathic, which means the cause is ultimately unknown. He said his heart once beat at 300 beats per minute – which is three-to-five times the average of 60-100 in adults.

“They told me I could live with it for quite a while if I just took care of myself, kept working out like I do, eating right, things of that nature – which I do,” Buboltz said. “But it kept acting up quite a bit.”

After moving back to the New Ulm area in 2007, Buboltz was found by his roommate having collapsed in the shower due to another heart attack. His condition had gotten worse, which forced him to leave his job.

“After that had happened, they told me I couldn’t live on my own anymore,” Buboltz said. “Then I wound up in a nursing home in Redwood Falls for 10 1/2 months.”

Buboltz ended up moving to an assisted living center in New Ulm, where he said his condition improved until 2009, when he said he had a “whopper” heart attack.

“That one, I found out from my doctor after a few years, that I almost didn’t make it,” Buboltz said. “That one was massive.”

That attack was his seventh overall, which ultimately led to a more assertive approach in exercising.

Ever since he began first working out, Buboltz said he went from weighing in at 362 pounds to “316 and dropping,” also due in part to the lower-body strength he has gained thanks to his walking regimen.

The simple action of walking on the treadmill has paid huge dividends for him health-wise for he has not had any heart problems in the five years he has been exercising regularly.

“The doctor that I see in New Ulm, he figures that it’s because I work out so much that I’m doing so much better,” Buboltz said.

Often times, people will grow concerned with what others might think of them in the gym, which can create a stigma attached to going to the gym or exercising in public. But Buboltz said that has not – and should not – be a concern for him or anyone wanting to get into exercise.

“Nobody’s ever looked down on me there,” Buboltz said. “When I first started there, I noticed that right away how it’s so welcoming. That helped, it kept me going.”

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