With various celebrations I attended over the course of the weekend and leading up to Independence Day, a few not-so-good choices got the better of me. Planning was where I fell down. Usually I can piece together a nutritious meal wherever I go, but when you’re faced with constant BBQ fare of hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, potato salad and maybe some watermelon, it’s hard to stay focused.
But…I hung in there as best I could. I didn’t get my bike riding in, but I took as many steps as I could each day to keep myself moving, and I drank lots of water. As of this morning, I am at a 9 lb. loss. Not too shabby for my first month, but definitely time to dig my heels in and hone in on my focus.
I do want to tell you a little more about me, health-wise:
Somewhere around 2010, I visited the doctor because I was having issues with my left ear. I had gotten over a cold about two weeks prior to this visit, but it seemed that something triggered a constant pulsing that was driving me insane. Sleeping was more difficult than ever with the sound of whoosh-whoosh-whoosh in my head. I thought it was a sinus issue or possibly an ear infection. My ear felt plugged and the pulse seemed to mimic my heartbeat.
All was well as my doctor checked my ears, nose and throat. It seemed that I had healed up from my previous cold just fine. He then moved put the blood pressure cuff around my arm and gave it a good pumping. It wasn’t reading, so he pumped it up again with a little more force for added tightness. Still…it wasn’t registering. I made a joke that he should wrap the cuff around my head because I felt my heartbeat just fine in my left ear. He chuckled before giving it a pumping that made my hand feel like it was going to explode and then he said, “There it is.” He took the cuff off and began to talk to me about hypertension.
“Wait. What?!” I said. He continued talking about medication to bring it down. Now let me just tell you, I do not like taking medication and began to put up a little stink about the idea of this. I told him, “My blood pressure has been fine. You can’t put me on medicine because of one high reading.” Be began to flip through my previous appointments and told me that it had actually been working its way up, but hadn’t caused him much concern because of my previous good readings. But he continued, “Your blood pressure reading today is 190 over 110 and I cannot let you walk out that door without something to help bring it down.” Shocked doesn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling. I know people who have to take medication, like, forever…because of ailments. I did not want to become one of those people.
In my first writing, I told you how I had successfully lost weight about ten years ago. This was three years after that and I had allowed the weight to creep back on (plus some), and here I was…overweight with full-blown hypertension.
Since that time, I’ve been on-again and off-again with dieting and exercise. When I’m eating well and exercising, my numbers come down to very healthy levels. But when I’m off the wagon, it shows. A typical day, without exercise, is about 150/92. It’s become a constant battle for me.
So, fast forward to our current date. I have gained additional weight and early this year ended up needing to increase my medication and adding another. I was having problems bringing my diastolic number (the lower one) down below 100, so I was sent to a cardiologist for a rigorous treadmill test. He told me my heart was very healthy, but that I needed to lose some weight. It always comes down to that, doesn’t it? That was back in March and well…my weight didn’t go down. In fact, it went up a little bit. I did some research on the new medication and it’s geared to slow down my heartbeat and can cause some weight gain. I think I’ve allowed this to happen, but now I’m ready to fight back. It means pushing myself a little harder though. Because my medicine works to slow down my heartbeat, I have to push against it to raise it up to an exercise level. While I don’t have a heart-rate monitor (something I do want to get) I know that I’m getting it up to that level when I walk and ride my bike. My gauge is my breathing when I try to talk or sing. The doctor did tell me that just losing 10 lbs. would help to lower that diastolic number…as that one really reacts to weight.
That is my added incentive in all of this. It’s not just about being thin and looking cute in my favorite fantasy pair of skinny jeans, it truly is about my health.
Before seeing the cardiologist, I had a scare. My chest felt tight one evening and I went to the ER. My numbers were off the charts, but I wasn’t having a heart attack or a stroke. They sent me home and said I should have a follow-up with my cardiologist. Umm…I don’t have a cardiologist. Those are for old people, right?!
I have a different doctor now; a sweet older gal, who’s like an older sister or mom figure. I adore her, but was a little taken aback when she said in her sweet accent, “You are going to have a stroke, and you will have no one to blame but yourself!” Wow, huh?! Her words seemed a bit harsh, but it was exactly how I needed to hear it…straight up and honest. She handed me a piece of paper with a referral to a cardiologist and thus began the direction of this journey I’m on. I walked out of her office knowing that real changes needed to be made.
I am probably more in tune with my heart than I have ever been. When I’m walking at a brisk pace, or peddling my legs off and feel like quitting…I do a heart check. I don’t even have to put my hand to it any longer because I can just feel it inside of me. My spiritual heart reminds me of my friend and family that I want to spend much more time with, but my physical heart reminds me that I’m strong and my efforts are worth every bit of this health journey. I want true heart health…mentally, spiritually, and most definitely physically!
I hope you will take to heart making the necessary changes to keep yours active and healthy. I used to live a carefree life, and didn’t worry about things like this (my physical heart). But time has a way of catching up with you. How’s your mental, spiritual and physical heart today? Do you need to make some changes or create new habits? If so, join me on this journey.
Comments are always welcome. 🙂
*raising my glass of water to you* Cheers!