Sat with Nat

My high blood pressure 7 year anniversary. Notes to my younger self.

Recommended soundtrack: feeling groovy by Simon & Garfunkel

My social media memories nudged me this week with a series of posts about getting a high blood pressure diagnosis.

Re-reading my first post about my thoughts and feelings

https://fitisafeministissue.com/2014/04/13/i-cant-fight-genetics-guest-post/

I wish I could whisper a few words in my younger self’s ear. I can’t change the past 7 years but maybe you know someone who can benefit from this hard earned wisdom.

Bar none, the thing that made the biggest difference was medication. When I look at the most effective and clearly linked to outcomes, the choice to take my morning pill is #1.

I wish I hadn’t worried so much about food and alcohol. I eat now pretty much how I did then but there was a lot of hand wringing and pointless worrying. I was already eating in accordance with Canada’s Food Guide. Lots of vegetables, a little grain & protein and fruit.

For alcohol, I went sober, renegotiated my relationship with alcohol, chose to drink again and feel good about how my alcohol use feels like a choice.

I’ve done lots of movement, some of it is “working out” but the thing that has stuck and remains my foundation is walking. A lot. Like 10 km a day. It feels easy. It feels sustainable and it doesn’t hurt my body.

I did not go for gastric bypass and I’m glad. My weight has fluctuated from 268 to 200 and all over the place in the last 7 years. My blood pressure remained the same. It’s my veins, not my weight, that are my challenge.

Yoga makes regular appearances in my routine and my relationship with it has blossomed into one of deep appreciation and respect.

There is no one thing that will regulate my blood pressure, it’s a complicated system. I’ve learned to chill the fuck out about a lot of things.

Having a robust social, emotional, physical and fitness support network has definitely been the best part of the past 7 years. I like to think my sharing has contributed to that great support.

So my advice, if you or someone you love is looking, is relax. Access the kinds of health services that make sense to you. Figure out the small things you can change and sustain. And then chill. The. Fuck. Out.

It really works!

A picture of Natalie smiling with her progressive lenses on and much longer hair than she’s had in a very long time. And look at that smile.
Guest Post · weight loss

40 years & 40 lbs (Guest Post)

I’ve seriously debated writing this post, I’m torn really, but in the spirit of open and honest discussions about fitness and feminism I can’t ignore my changing body and writing about it. I’ve shared with readers and friends about my journey from last April’s high blood pressure diagnosis to therapy around overeating and even hitting a tertiary benchmark, losing 20 lbs.

This post though feels, vain, yes, definitely feels like a vanity to share I’m wearing smaller pants. I’ve changed a lot of things in my life that have impacted my weight but my primary goal has been to get my blood pressure down without medication. I’m currently on medications that are keeping my blood pressure in a healthy zone, YAY!

In the healthy range for blood pressure and pulse!
In the healthy range for blood pressure and pulse!

The downside is, as a result of the medication, I now have Raynaud’s Syndrome that restricts circulation to my hands and feet in the cold, making running below 0C very painful no matter how many layers I wear. I asked my doctor in January at what point my declining weight would impact my blood pressure and he said “You have to lose a lot.” Well crap! This was especially annoying because my pulse at the doctor’s office (post coffee, ya ya but honestly I also have a goal of being a non-violent person and coffee assists me with this) being under 60 bpm was pretty awesome considering it was 73 bpm in July and 80 bpm before that in May. My cardiovascular health is definitely improving, which was my secondary goal to support lowering my blood pressure.

My weight has dropped by what I thought was “a lot”. Honestly I didn’t think I could loose 40 lbs without starving myself, measuring food and obsessively counting calories. I do none of these things. I use Canada’s Food Guide and cook from scratch. I eat bread and cheese and on Valentines Day had wine with dinner and chocolate for breakfast.

Therapy around overeating was crucial for me to change my relationship to food, to see it both as nourishment AND joy without it being a way to numb my feelings.

So, while 4 months ago I was freaking out about turning 40, today I’m feeling fantastic and wearing a smaller dress than I have in a long time. So 40 can be a number I’m happy about for a bunch of reasons. I share with you not a before picture, not an after picture, but my picture of feeling great for my date with my life partner. (That’s what all this is about anyway, being around a long time and extracting a lot of joy, right?)

All dolled up for a hot date.
All dolled up for a hot date.

I have no idea where my weight will settle out, it seems to keep going down, so that is cool but I don’t know if I’ll get to the point where I can go off blood pressure medication. I think I just need to be ok with whatever comes next. That feels like a good plan.