Seven years ago, I sustained a blow to the back of my head. As a precaution, I decided to get myself checked out. As the ER nurse was taking my vital signs, I noticed an ashen look fall across her face. “What’s wrong?” I asked. Her response was ominous: “You shouldn’t be conscious.” The reading on the blood pressure monitor is what had obviously alarmed her: 196/134. It was clear to me that several years of negligence in regards to my health could eventually have fatal results. Something had to change.
First Steps Toward a Healthier Lifestyle
My weight had ballooned from 175 pounds to 256 pounds. With the support of my family and a strong push from my family doctor, I decided that diet was the best place to start in the reclamation of my health. Processed foods, as well as salty and sugary snacks, were dropped from my diet. Fatty meats went to the wayside in favor of lean proteins found in chicken and fish. Fresh fruit and vegetables became a staple at nearly every meal.
I learned little tips and tricks to help me maintain this healthy diet. Portion control was enforced by smaller plates and bowls. Making my own meals allowed me to control what goes into them. Restaurant fare became a treat. I learned that in a grocery store, everything needed for a healthy diet is found on the outer edges of the store, negating the need to go down the aisles.
While I saw results from altering my diet, it still wasn’t enough to get my health to where it needed to be.
Get Up, Get Active
I had to get moving if I really wanted to have a measurable impact on my health. I started with a personal trainer. With his help I started a workout regimen: three days a week for thirty minutes at a time.
I also started running to supplement these workouts. Before too long I was running 5Ks on the weekends. In the early part of 2011 I ran my first half marathon and in the fall, my first full marathon. Since then I’ve ran in several 5Ks and running remains an integral part of my workout routine.
I also sought out other opportunities to move and get active. I played recreational indoor soccer. I bike as much as I can. I also play in a Gaelic football league.
How Am I Today?
While I’m still on medication to help keep my BP in line, regular checks show an average BP of 120/76, solidly in the “normal” category. My weight fluctuates around 185-190 pounds. If I can keep it at 185 pounds. my doctor sees no need for me to stay on medication. I feel and look the best I have in years. This is a lifestyle change that is here to stay; and to think it was all brought on by a bump on the head.