I think I have good intentions when I make New Year’s resolutions in December for the next year, because I want a healthier lifestyle by eating right and exercising more . I know as I get older, I am at higher risk for many diseases and cancers, because my immune system weakens, but I still find an excuse not to workout or eat better. I haven’t experienced a doctor pulling me aside to tell me I need to change my lifestyle. I still love to cook pasta, sweet desserts, and load cheese onto every side dish to my husband’s dismay. I find excuses to avoid a healthier lifestyle because I feel great at 61. But am I putting myself at risk?
I am the daughter of a man whose family tree has heart disease. I am the living will executor to my father’s wishes and he has the DNR which means I make the decision to pull the plug when he goes into cardiac arrest or into a coma, not my brother, me. Lovely position to be in when you’re in distress, but I know my father’s wishes. We have spent many a tearful moment discussing the quality of life. I know how he looks at life now. I spent 10 days in Rochester, Minnesota in 2014 being my father’s advocate when he had open heart surgery. Watching a healthy man have his chest opened, heart stopped, and repaired to make his life better was an eye opening experience. But I am his daughter. It can happen to me.
Because my father and his family have heart disease, I am at risk for heart disease. I now see a cardiologist every year who is my Marcus Welby. I took a battery of tests in 2015 to understand what shape my heart is in. I had a blood pressure of 135/80, he put me on a low dose of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Every 2 years I now have to take a nuclear stress test which involves being injected with a small amount of radiation called a radionuclide, so that doctors can take images of my heart at rest and after I spend time on a treadmill. The treadmill starts slowly and gradually picks up speed and incline, to simulate walking or running uphill.
“At peak exercise, more radionuclide is injected into the patient, me. When the radionuclide has passed through the bloodstream, the gamma camera takes more pictures of the heart. This is known as the “stress scan” of the heart.The radionuclide helps to identify blocked or partially blocked arteries on the scans, because blocked arteries do not absorb the radionuclide into the heart. They are known as “cold spots.
I was shocked that my blood pressure was rising to very high levels while on the treadmill , but as my nurse said, “We want to stress the heart.” I was still on the treadmill after 9 minutes, the nurse said I was doing great for my age, but we stopped when my blood pressure reached its target rate. She said most people who do not exercise regularly can’t get beyond 4 minutes.
I asked my doctor what I should be doing to strengthen my heart and he said more cardio exercise. I walk Bruno, but I don’t call it cardio exercise. Most like a sniff and pee walk. He recommends hitting the treadmill on incline 30 minutes, 3 times a week.
I also use weights or take my Body Pump class 3 times a week which is also very good for my heart and for my body in general. Here is an interesting side note to my weight training: when I have my annual 3D mammography, the nurse during screening asked if I was a tennis player, because I had a very muscular chest image. My chest muscular wall was clearly defined in the 3D image. It’s because I lift weights!
Last summer I wrote about my doctor putting me on statins because my cholesterol level was over 200. I now have a cholesterol level of 140, because I take a statin. There are risks taking statins, but having high cholesterol is worse.
I am no longer the little girl in the photo that sits next to my daily pill routine, but I plan to live as long as I can by eating well, and exercising more.
I have found that when I don’t exercise, my blood pressure rises. These pills alone cannot give me a longer life, nor will they prevent other diseases or cancers from coming. That’s up to my gene pool and how I live my life.
I am making smarter food decisions and restrict pasta and desserts to once a week. I eat more chicken and fish than red meat. I load up on salad and not bread. All my meals are freshly prepared and I pay attention to sodium contents on the food labels. It’s amazing how much sodium is in packaged food!!
I like to exercise in the morning, “to get it out of the way”, and lately I have been spending too much time on the computer answering emails or trying to finish the blog from the day before. I have made a conscious effort this year to stop looking at the computer at 7:30 and hit the gym by 8:00. The world can wait until I sit down at my desk. I have even told my clients that I won’t answer emails or text messages before 10:00. I know they have to work, but my office hours are 10-4. I need to take control of my daily routine and schedule my fitness time in before my interior design business, this wonderful little blog that needs so much attention, and get back to being a better me.
I’ll leave you with this quote I found on Your Swim Book:
“If it’s important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will find an excuse.”
Are you ready to to keep your goals this year?
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Go out and be fierce my friends!
I hope you’re living your best life now and that age is just a number to you too! I would love to hear from you!
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