This month I finally got around to having a health MOT. I’d been meaning to for ages but had been putting it off because other things become more “pressing”.
Mostly I had good news for instance clear of diabetes and excellent cholesterol levels. Then came the shock, my blood pressure is too high. I wasn’t expecting that. It is always interesting to note how such things can come about.
Causes can be over weight, lack of exercise, stress, too much alcohol, smoking, salt and caffeine. It can also sometimes be hereditary. So I reviewed my own case. My father has had high blood pressure but he also followed poor lifestyle choices at the time so it’s hard to say if there is a hereditary component.
I don’t smoke, never add salt to my diet and eat relatively healthily (hence my great cholesterol score). I also exercise regularly. Strangely I’ve increased my caffeine over the last six months having hardly ever had more than a couple of coffees a week I’m up to four cups a day.
What about alcohol? Well I consider myself moderate however the fact Joe and I share a bottle of wine twice a week makes me a binge drinker! This is worse than drinking one glass a day apparently. I knew this but was in denial about it!
Over the last 18 months my stress levels have gone up, first with the loss of my father-in- law and then with a very stressful house sale that dragged on for over a year. Luckily the day before I went to the doctors this was resolved.
As a result of this stress I have found myself slipping back into comfort eating and have gained about 20lbs on last year. So note to those of you to whom this applies. I have been comfort eating healthy food plus chocolate! Even healthy food is unhelpful if you eat too much. If I lose just 10lbs my blood pressure will improve. Interestingly enough according to the doctor my weight is okay and she didn’t think I needed to lose weight unless I wanted to. (I am only just within the healthy weight for my height and age). I was surprised by this as it seems losing weight is the easiest way to start making a change to my blood pressure.
Those of you who followed my blog about weight loss a couple of years ago will remember how I linked weight to emotional issues. I still believe this and as Byron Lewis mentions in his book about “Addictions Demystified” we shouldn’t look at falling off the wagon as failing. It is a normal stage in the recovery process. So that is how I am treating this issue in my life. Time to get back on the wagon.
What is one of the other best ways of reducing stress?
Many of you may already have been thinking about this as you read this blog! Meditation is a practice that has a whole wagon load of research behind it. The evidence suggests that meditation of any form can reduce blood pressure and increase well-being in all kinds of way.
There is a great quote from the author Richard Bach:
“We teach best what we most need to learn.”
I can’t remember if this quote comes from Jonathan Livingstone Seagull or Illusions. They are both brilliant books so do read them both.
Okay universe I get it. I have been writing about mindfulness. Time to take my own advice. I have re-started a regular mediation practice.
My plan to reduce my blood pressure before my next check up with the doctor and thus avoid drug treatment is as follows.
- Reduce my weight by 20lbs.
- Continue to exercise regularly with high intensity circuits.
- Continue to eat healthily with less comfort eating.
- Reduce my caffeine.
- Reduce alcohol.
- Meditate daily
I have discovered it is easy to buy a blood pressure monitor so I can check my scores regularly to see how I’m doing. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Next week I will describe how to meditate for those of you who would like some guidance.