Weight and health: Pressure's on

Last August, I had my first checkup with my new family doctor, a thorough, warm woman just out of school.

I, a frequent exerciser, moderate drinker and lifelong non-smoker had high blood pressure for the first time ever. Given my  family history of heart disease and diabetes, I took the news seriously, and determined to lower it. That meant dropping some weight, among other measures. 

I was smack in the middle of the BMI overweight category, but since my weight has been stable for a decade and I felt energetic and strong, had not been concerned. (BMI is not the be-all, but I lack the notable muscular density that distorts the accuracy of this measure for some. I was also too heavy using another measure, the waist to hip ratio.)

In 19 weeks I've lost over 20 lbs. by reviving old Weight Watchers habits (record intake, measure portions, excise empty calories) and tracking food and exercise on the free site recommended by reader Eleanorjane, MyFitnessPal.

I created my profile, then ate to the MFP calorie allottment. I've kept bread and pasta, and enjoy (hell, count the minutes to) one square of Lindt dark chocolate most evenings, which is actually good for lowering blood pressure!  

Though my bp is now consistently normalfar more meaningful to me than my smaller dress size–I don't feel any different, and isn't that why they call hypertension The Silent Killer?  

This is the first time I've shed weight motivated by health rather than vanity (class reunion coming up!) or economics (not wanting to replace my wardrobe).

I had to reduce, and must maintain that loss. At the gym, hoisting a 20 lb. barbell, I think, I was carrying that around all the time, and am better off without it. 

I've dropped a bundle at the tailor's, but that's allowed me to hold off buying clothes till the spring.

Thank you, Eleanorjane, from the bottom of my healthier heart; the project is even fun with MyFitnessPal.


I also started using myfitnesspal after another blogger recommended it. So helpful...I have made baby steps compared to you, but at least I am going in the right direction. You are so right THE PRESSURE IS ON...because of health!
Susan B said…
Good for you Duchesse! I love my little square of dark chocolate too, so satisfying. I've been tracking points on Weight Watchers for the last month, have lost a little bit and am feeling better in my clothes already. My BP has never been an issue, and I'm fortunate that "the usual suspects" (heart disease, diabetes, BP, stroke) don't tend to run in my family, but when my doctor mentioned this year that my cholesterol has crept up a bit, not in worrisome territory but high for me, that brought home the need to get back onto healthier eating.
Viktoria Berg said…
Well done! Health is the foundation of everything, after all.
LPC said…
Why am I not surprised that you can do this sort of thing if you put your mind to it:). Nice work. Enjoy your new health.
KSL said…
Congratulations Duchesse, and glad your BP is back to normal.
Anonymous said…
Well done, you've always struck me as the determined type.
Frugal Scholar said…
Very impressive. My mother has been on diets for almost as long as I can remember--as far as I can tell, her dieting has made her gain weight. It's been painful to watch.
RoseAG said…
Good for you!
It is not easy to rein in an established appetite.
Anonymous said…
Congrats, Duchesse! May I inquire if you've done anything besides lose weight (and eat chocolate) to reduce your BP? Mine has been borderline for a few years now, and I have been determined to get it down without having to start taking drugs. I've had some success, but would like to get it more consistently in a lower range and am always looking for tips.

---Jill Ann
Duchesse said…
Pam: Glad to heat it!

Pseu: It is, at this point in life, a constant effort- but necessary.

Viktoria: Agree; I appreciate health more every year.

LPC: DVN is still a size away ;)

Kathy: It's a relief and I did not want to take meds.

Tabitha: Good read. And I know you have done this too.

Frugal: She goes on a diet to *lose* and gains? Either not a diet, she is not eating correct amount or quits.

Rose: I still have the appetite but it does not have me :)

Jill Ann: I also returned to my regular meditation practice and removed some stressors (that is, situations with persons).

Oh and some of my very slim friends have high blood pressure too.
Congratulations on your road to health and wellness...
I've been noshing on veggies and hummus for lunches this week and a Ferro Rocher a day!
Anonymous said…
I few of my friends have done very well on The 17 day diet.
I am proud of them, because it has been a constant struggle for most of their lives. Approaching 60, they have never looked so well.
Kristien62 said…
This is such a timely post for me. I need to do the same for health reasons. I usually balk at the thought of tracking my food, but this time it is essential. Thanks for the tip on the website. I have promised myself that I can eat most of what I like, but with portion and dietary fat limitations. Congratulations on 20lbs. That is impressive.
materfamilias said…
Such discipline! With such rewards, health-wise! It really is an age for evaluating health habits, isn't it?
Anonymous said…
Oh my goodness! I'm nearly blushing and I never blush!

My pleasure! I'm so pleased to hear you're back to being healthy and strong.

SewingLibrarian said…
Congratulations and well done! You have accomplished what many can't seem to do. I hope you reward yourself with a nice little cadeau (not the edible kind). Earrings, perhaps?
Duchesse said…
hostess: Yes, it is not created by weight, but being overweight is a contributing factor that I can control.

Anon@6:19: That diet, with its phases, beginning with a low calorie kick start (1200 cal.day) is not my approach. (I do not think of counting calories or points as a "diet".) I have been eating considerably more than that from Day One, thank goodness, or I'd be crabby and probably quit.

Kristien62: I chose to eat more (1400-1500 cals/day, sometimes more depending on exercise) and lose it slowly, as VLCDS (very low calorie diets) have been shown to actually have a rebound effect. If I can do this, I believe you can!

materfamilias: I'd say the discipline- to not eat, say 6 licorice twizzlers while writing, and not even notice- lasted maybe 2 weeks. Then it just became the new normal- a banana instead.

Eleanorjane: This is one of the best things about blogging- how readers support one another. I had never used an online tool and it has made such a difference!

SewingLibrarian: I did that, bought a casual pearl piece- naturally.

LunaStitches said…
Congratulations! I've lost 25 pounds since June in anticipation of my yearly physical which was about a month ago. My cholesterol had been high and I had been avoiding having blood drawn for the last few years since my physician was threatening me with cholesterol-lowering medication! The weight lost and increased exercise did the trick!

Weight Watchers has always worked for me WHEN I FOLLOW THE PLAN - motivation is my problem. I feel great, just shoveled snow for almost an hour without breaking a sweat, but am concerned about maintaining my new weight as I tend to yoyo...
Duchesse said…
LunaStitches: Congratulations yourself!

A Lifetime WW member, I find that not keeping the food diary means sliding back, period. Now I'm logging online- genius! I can create and name meals so just have to click and it's in, unless I eat something novel.

But mostly, it is that BP reading that's deeply motivating, and sounds like for you it's your cholesterol. These numbers are way more compelling to me than my dress size.
Unknown said…
Congratulations Duchesse.

I need to do the same thing, for the same reason.
Duchesse said…
Susan: If I can do it, anyone can!

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