It was a exactly a week ago today that I got the scare of my life. As you can imagine, I've made quite a few changes since then. For one, I have a blood pressure machine in the house now and I take a reading 2-3 times a day. My BP is starting to come down a little but I've still got a ways to go. The good news is that I'm off to a decent start. Here are some of the changes I've made over the past week:
* Eating a lot more fruits and vegetables. Fortunately I'm married to a woman who is a fruit and vegetable fanatic so this hasn't been that hard to do. And thanks to our time in Italy, she has learned how to make a salad taste like a full meal, Mediterranean style. I've been reading a lot about how potassium and magnesium are key to lowering BP so I'm eating more bananas and other foods high in each of these minerals.
* No red meat. This is temporary of course as I am an avowed carnivore. However, there are some things that I've decided to cut out altogether until my BP comes down to an acceptable level and this is one of them.
* Fish fish fish. I love fish so this is another easy one. Only problem is that it's impossible to find good fresh fish here so we have to rely mostly on frozen. A typical week will include salmon, mahi mahi, cod, swordfish and tuna. Occasionally some trout, cuttlefish, shrimp or scallops. The wife usually puts tuna in my salads, just like we used to eat in Italy. Being born in the Philippines and spending most of her life in Hong Kong has made the wife a master at preparing fish.
* No alcohol. As with red meat, this is only temporary until I get my BP down to an acceptable level. It's difficult for me to eat a nice meal without the requisite glass of vino.
* Exercise. I'm actually doing less exercise at this point but that's only because I'm under doctor's orders not to exert myself too much. However, I'm realizing that exercise is a major key in bringing down my BP and I'm planning on starting to build up to a good level here soon. This week has been extremely tough because it's been either raining or freezing cold which prohibits me from doing much outside. But fortunately for me, Heidelberg is the quintessential city for walking. And as the weather gets warmer in the next few weeks I'll be getting back to my hiking in the mountains around the house. Last spring and summer I dropped 20 pounds mostly from hiking. If I can do the same this year, I'll actually weigh less than I did when I got out of the Army a few years ago.
* Juicing. We bought a new juicer the other day and have started juicing regularly. I've always been a major proponent of juicing so this was an easy one. It's amazing how much better you feel after just a couple days of juicing (fruits and vegetables, Gino, not steroids...).
* Apple cider vinegar. In my research online about lowering BP, one thing that kept coming up was people touting the use of apple cider vinegar as a home remedy. So much so that I figured why the hell not? I take 2 teaspoons with a glass of water once or twice a day.
The upshot of all these things is that I've already dropped 6 pounds in the past week and am currently at my lowest weight since coming to Germany. My gut is shrinking, my pants are starting to feel loose and I have a lot more energy. I'm so motivated that I'm chomping at the bit to start hitting the weights but for right now I'm resigned to just taking long walks. The biggest thing I need to work on now is my patience. The healthy diet is one thing but I'm finding that stress is the biggest contributor to my high BP.