Change What You Can

Sometimes it’s hard to have non-attachment to a situation. We see it and have a gut response that serves us in no way, but that reaction is so deep seated that our reaction clouds any other voice of reason. It’s hard to see past all the negative talk that fills our head with all the scenarios, negative, self-doubting chatter. It’s hard to push past everything, take a deep breath and think objectively about whatever is affecting your life.

One thing I try to remind myself of is: can I control it? No? Then don’t worry about it! Yes? Then do something about it!

This is where I was sitting – in the negative, self-doubting chatter about my high blood pressure; how everything is so terrible. It was a terrible week and I was scared. And you know what? That’s perfectly natural and that’s perfectly okay! It’s okay to be afraid! It’s okay to not know! And it’s okay to ask for help!

I think the hardest thing about my high blood pressure is the fact I brought it on myself. 2 years ago when I embarked on my self-love, anti-diet, BoPo (body positive) journey, I saw the weight coming on and I did nothing to stop it. However, I still firmly believe that I needed that to happen in order to heal and be able to move forward in a healthful, holistic way. And this, my high blood pressure, is a friendly kick in my ass to remind me that I’m not supposed to sit in this place, I’m just supposed to visit it! And I’m in full ability to get my blood pressure into a healthier range.

So what am I going to do?

Just like any “weight loss journey” – which I hate calling this, but it doesn’t make it any less true – a plan is needed.

Food intake.

Thankfully, my diet (as in what I eat on a daily basis) is fairly healthy. Yes, I have issues – usually around sugar – but, for the most part, my diet is probably healthier than most people’s. I eat very little processed foods, however, I do eat a fair amount of simple carbohydrates like potatoes, French fries, and white rice (as I love basmati rice). I do eat bread but try to keep it brown/whole wheat/sprouted but could probably lighten up there, as well.

Heart healthy foods include:

  • Beets and their greens – folate (helps prevent anemia, deficiencies linked to depression)
  • Kale – Vitamin K (protects arteries and promotes blood clotting)
  • Avocados – monounsaturated fats (helps reduce LDL cholesterol)
  • Bananas – potassium (fluid and electrolyte balance)
  • Berries – antioxidants like anthocyanins (protects against oxidative stress and inflammation)
  • Sweet Potatoes – Vitamin A, C, Manganese (cellular health)
  • Broccoli – Vitamin C, K (protects arteries and promotes blood clotting)
  • Pumpkin Seeds – linoleic and oleic acid, Magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, Iron
  • Sunflower Seeds – Thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, Vitamin E, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Zinc
  • Chickpeas – fiber, resistant starch (resists digestion and is fermented by beneficial bacteria in your gut)
  • Black Beans – fiber, resistant starch (resists digestion and is fermented by beneficial bacteria in your gut)
  • Whole grains – high in fiber (helps reduce LDL cholesterol and decrease risk of heart disease)
  • Walnuts – fiber, magnesium, copper and manganese (lowers diastolic blood pressure, decreases oxidative stress and inflammation)
  • Dark Chocolate – antioxidants like flavonoids (boosts heart health)
  • Tomatoes – antioxidant lycopene
  • Chia seeds – fiber and omega-3 fatty acids (improves inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides)
  • Hemp seeds – amino acid arginine (reduces inflammation)
  • Garlic – allicin (reduce LDL cholesterol, inhibit platelet buildup)

When it comes right down to it, fruits and vegetables have a huge variety of vitamins and some minerals, and seeds and nuts have a huge variety of minerals and some vitamins. Really, they are all good, and it all comes down to personal preference – though, at least with the seeds and nuts, because they are also high in fats, don’t overdo them.

The hard part that is also required with getting the heart healthy, is exercise. I certainly prefer certain types of exercise like yoga – which is great for body-mind connection and stress reduction which is also required for a healthy blood pressure. However, what I’m discovering, that’s not enough. Yes, I recognize that a lot of my weight issues is around shitty diet habits with sugar consumption, but, as they always say:

“You can’t out-exercise a bad diet”

As much as I dislike this quote as it’s often tied to a diet mentality, there certainly is a fair amount of truth to it.

Have you ever seen the movie “Over the Hedge”? It’s animated and really cute. The best part is when the racoon is talking about humans obsession with food: “We eat to live, they live to eat”… which essentially is talking about over exercising and taking antacid pills when we overeat. There is definitely truth to it. Some of the best conversations and favorite memories revolve around the kitchen, cooking, eating, and drinking.

However, they also involve some of my worst memories of recent years.

The fact is, we need both – we need to eat to live, but also to live to eat. We just need to pick and choose when and where. I don’t drink alcohol anymore but I pick and choose when I indulge in sweets. It’s easier now, as most baked goods are not vegan, so it’s easy to say no! But I do have my favorites! Unfortunately, when I get super stressed/anxious/depressed, I also reach for sugar, so I’m hoping that hitting the gym again will help with handling the shitty things that happen in life.

Exercise

As I have always preached to my clients when I was personal training, it’s more important to move than to stick to a specific type of exercise. All exercise is good exercise and it’s only your goals that may decide what you actually do. I had one client who I trained differently with me and I instructed her to do different things when she wasn’t with me. Most people didn’t have a gym membership, so I had to work with what they had and what they could do – and I still stand behind that. Do what you can , when you can, right now. If your life is hectic and you can only get 30 minutes  a day in, then just do 30 minutes a day! And ignore the advice of when you should exercise – exercise when it’s best for you, whether morning or evening or mid-afternoon – it doesn’t matter! Just move!

With me, this aspect should be easy.

Should.

I’m a very regimented person – that’s probably why the military works… during the week. I have a set job with set hours. I know exactly when I need to leave the house to make the bus, when I’ll be getting to work (at least within 10 minutes) I know what I’ll be eating and when, and when I have yoga, what time I need to leave to catch which bus and what time I’ll get home – which is the same time if I catch one bus that takes me a block from home, or a different bus that drops me off further away and I walk the 2km home. I have enough time to change and drink 750ml of water before my husband gets home from work, usually no later than 5pm. We then have a choice: go to the gym and do something productive, or veg in front of the TV and binge watch something.

Unfortunately, lately we’ve been each other’s enablers. We are fully capable of going to the gym without the other person, however, if one of us doesn’t feel like going, then we simply don’t. I know hubby was going without me for a while, but then he fell out of the habit. And I wanted to start going, so I was going without him, and then I got sick. And the other week, I was just having a shitty week, with anxiety so I took it easy on myself and allowed my emotions take their course.

Today? I’m feeling better. I’ve done the research into a more heart-healthy foods and armed myself with a healthier attitude. I think I simply needed a week long, anxiety ridden, pity-party… but that’s over and I’m feeling better!

And I know this week will be better.

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