Operation Banish High Blood Pressure

It’s time for fresh starts. December 1st. What could be a better time? I’m not waiting for New Year’s resolutions this year because I need to tackle this new health challenge head on. I have high blood pressure and it’s not going away. It started in September and I assumed it was because I was hyper about taking a trip with World Vision Canada and I assumed that the high reading was a one off. But in October it was high again and then this past weekend when we went for flu shots it was astronomical. So it’s time to kick it to the curb.

First here’s a bit about me. I am in my 40s. I don’t like to share my age and that’s my own little vanity but the reality is that I am 45 and at a point where health doesn’t improve without Herculean efforts to change something. Metabolism is such a fickle thing. She was my friend for most of my life and then I turned 40 and she started vanishing, taking long holidays even. Now I have to kick her to wake her up and that’s on a good day. On a bad day, well she’s still in bed at 3 p.m., and I’ve been up for a good nine hours by then.

Weight loss is harder after 40. That’s reality. I’m not that worried about shedding a few pounds. I have typically been slender because I also have Crohn’s Disease, an incurable inflammatory bowel disease that means wild swings in weight and then periods of time with severe stomach pain which usually keeps you from eating. I have traditionally never had issue losing weight. In fact, I have had trouble keeping weight on, so weight loss is a strange concept for me. But I have gained some this past two years since I started my own business. Business is good, great even, but I am sedentary for long periods. I work for long hours on my computer. I have ended up with blogger butt. In fact most days, I blog and run my consulting business on an 8 a.m. to 11 p.m schedule. That’s stressful and I eat poorly sometimes when I work long hours like this. So I know I have some changes to make. I need to eat lunch again. Dumbest thing in the world – I work right twenty feet from my kitchen, but still I rarely break to eat it and then I am ravenous by dinner.

And there are a few other things I know need to change. I also know this past year with both of my kids needing extreme increases in therapy appointments and educational meetings and so forth that this been incredibly hard on my health. I know and can feel the stress that never goes away when you parent kids with special needs. It is chronically exhausting and it damages your health. But that has got to slow soon. We’ve been doing intensive therapy for anxiety for one of the kids which ironically is making me sick. If it helps her, and we get through this period of time, by 2015 she might be better able to manage her anxiety symptoms. That’s the goal. Then my schedule will lighten a bit. I lose a day a week to their appointments right now. This isn’t a rant but a fact. And I am fully aware I can’t save anyone if I don’t apply my oxygen mask first.

I started reading about high blood pressure immediately this weekend and I am ready to make the changes I need to in order to fix this because I plan to be here for a long time writing and, you know, parenting my kids.

high blood pressure
Me, hitting the gym and looking really impressed.

So here’s what I have to do. (I started today. See the picture above – that’s me being really happy to be planking):

1. Low sodium diet.

2. Watch weight and maybe drop 5 to 10 pounds.

3. Increase physical activity. Exercise more.

4. Monitor and fix stress in my life.

5. Get better at taking breaks. Stop working 15 hour days.

6. Monitor caffeine. (It’s hard to say cut back on caffeine because I think you all know I love my coffee.)

7. Food journal. I started one today after I tweeted that I have high blood pressure.

8. Less packaged food and more yummy home cooked items.

9. Oh yeah and that estrogen I take because I was prescribed it when I had a hysterectomy has now been reevaluated. Cut in half and the goal will be to taper off I think. But I will do that with doctor’s help.

I can do this! I hope. Have you ever had high blood pressure? What did you change and how did it work?

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.