Friday, February 10, 2012

MORE LIFE TO LIVE



I did it. Yesterday morning my doctor gave me the green light to stop taking my blood pressure medication. Three days before the new year I was diagnosed with hypertension and it infuriated me. And when I get mad I take action. At the time, I gave my doctor the usual spiel about my stance on holistic healing. But when he gravely delivered the "massive stroke" punchline I didn't laugh. My aunt just suffered one and I saw the devastation it caused in our family. (Thank God she's recovered 100%.) My doctor pulled no punches and asked if I wanted to see my granddaughter graduate from medical school. A notion that wasn't too far fetched since she always has the medical dictionary read to her. 

The following week I intensely scoured the Internet on information regarding hypertension. I used the resources available to me at my job and learned it would take 10% common sense and 90% free will to control my blood pressure. I didn't have to be a victim of genetics or depend on medication to do something that my body is capable of doing on its own. I had to make a permanent choice! 

What is hypertension? It's high blood pressure. It's a serious condition where the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated. What causes hypertension? The list is long but common causes are: smoking, obesity, high levels of salt intake, a sedentary lifestyle, vitamin D deficiency, stress, high alcohol consumption, birth control pills, genetics, and chronic kidney disease. It didn't take a profound epiphany to extract the #1 culprit of MY hypertension from the list-high levels of salt intake. I exercised regularly, managed my stress as best I could, drank one glass of wine at night, and didn't have chronic kidney disease. I could have chalked it up to genetics and stress but I had to be honest with myself. I wasn't eating properly and was feeling it for months. 


I found the Dash Diet  specifically designed for people like me and it touted to lower blood pressure in 14 days. So it was up to me. In one day I was dumbfounded to learn of the high amount of sodium in the food I consumed that I thought was safe. I erroneously believed that soup was heart healthy. Uhhh, that would be a negative. The soup I was eating at our cafeteria contained 1,770mg of sodium!!!! I'm supposed to consume ONLY a maximum of 1,500mg/day. Let's not talk about the sauces, dressings, meat, and snacks I loved. I truly believe that french fries should be removed from a food group and placed in a drug class-narcotics. I made excuses every day for needing to stick those salted potato sticks down my throat. 


For the last month I replaced french fries with fruit; lots of fruit! And I ate vegetables (preferably raw) instead of white rice. I decreased my red meat and increased my protein intake via vegetables, nuts, legumes, and spinach. (I still eat red meat once in a while but not 3x a week or more.) I checked the sodium content on every nutrition label that was available and discarded those that had more than 6%. I opted for the veggie burger w/no sauce and convinced myself to love it. Oh, and water. I am drinking so much dratted water. Thank God my friend Michele told me about MIO water enhancer which makes H20 consumption a pleasant experience. I have to be honest, I used to love eating and was a proud foodie. Eating was a recreation meant to be savored and enjoyed. But those days are over...well, for now. 


My radical shift in mindset toward food will allow me to have more life to live. I'm taking responsibility for my actions and ensuring that I don't become a burden to my kids should I have a massive stroke or heart attack prematurely. This vast world has parts of it that my camera hasn't captured and my calling has yet to be fulfilled. My granddaughter, Rylee, and I, have so many adventures to undertake. 


Life was meant to be lived in abundance. Let's do it healthy!