People make lifestyle changes for a variety of reasons. Some folks are motivated by fear, some are goaded into it, and then there are those who truly just want to turn over a whole new leaf. My own journey — and it truly was a journey as there were many twists and turns along the route — began with a 4 a.m. visit to the emergency room.
Up until now whenever I’ve told this story, I’ve just said that I went to the emergency room for an unrelated medical issue, only to discover that I had dangerously high blood pressure. But that all sounds so cold and clinical, so in the interest of full disclosure I’ll now admit that I ended up there because of a hemorrhoid and my extreme fear of blood. My blood and lots of it — in a place it clearly shouldn’t have been! I immediately woke Charles, my drowsy husband, and off we went. So I guess you could say my own journey began with fear.
In reality, the emergency room physician was more concerned about my blood pressure (220/180) that my bleeding. In fact, the latter proved to be inconsequential; however if I hadn’t made that trip to the emergency room the former might have killed me. I was given Ativan and Lisonpril to get my blood pressure down, and wasn’t allowed to leave until my blood pressure was within a normal range. Truth be told, after I took the Ativan, I was a little loopy, so it’s all a bit hazy. In the end, I was sent home with a prescription for Lisonpril and instructions to follow up with my own doctor.
Therein lied my first problem. I didn’t exactly have a doctor, after all I felt fine. Suffice it to say that it took a while to locate a physician I could live with . I’ll be honest here; I’m not a huge fan of Western medicine, as I think many drugs are over-prescribed, and some diagnostic procedures are over used. Granted, I’m not a medical professional; however I was reluctant to turn my health over to an over zealous doctor. I wanted to find someone with a more holistic approach, so that took a little time. But in the end, I was very happy with my choice.
Unfortunately, on my first visit to my new doctor, my blood pressure was still on the high side, so he added yet another prescription (Norvasc) to my collection. He also stressed that it was important for me to cut back on sodium, as it could help lower my blood pressure naturally. And he said that if I did that, and my blood pressure improved, I may be able to go off the Norvasc.
Meanwhile, Charles started to get worried about his own blood pressure, so he found a doctor and proceeded to be poked and prodded and subjected to just about every test in the book. After all, we had insurance. He was enduring that very same shotgun approach that I always try to avoid. In the end, he switched over to my doctor, and was diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He came home with his own collection of prescriptions, along with the suggestion to cut back on sodium.
So we started reading labels and lowering our sodium intake. In the process we not only felt better, but we also started to shed a few pounds. And we both came to the realization that sodium was only part of our problem — we both needed to lose some weight too. And we realized that we didn’t pack on the pounds overnight, so we knew there wasn’t a quick fix to the problem. We didn’t want to go on a diet, because diets are usually temporary. We wanted a permanent change, something that we could live with. And so our Lifestyle Plan was born.
Of course, it’s not like we didn’t have a lot of obstacles to overcome to make it all work — the biggest one being that as a travel writer and photographer we spend a good deal of our working time on press trips. And if you’ve never been on a press trip, just imagine a four-day feeding frenzy, filled with lots of calories, fat and alcohol. We still needed to work, but to do that we had to go on those dreaded press trips. In short, we had to find a way to eat healthy on the road. And we realized that in order to do that, we had to start at home.
So that’s what we did. And along the way some of our friends saw our results and created Lifestyle Plans of their own. They took our basic concept and modified it to make it work for them. For example, I don’t eat red meat, but my friend Connie does; so she took the basic Lifestyle Plan concept and created her own healthy carnivore recipes. And I’v
included some of them in the book, as I realize not everyone is a fish and fowl person.
Additionally, I’ve included some tips and modifications from other friends who tried Lifestyle Plans of their own. Feel free to pick and choose things that work for you to create your own personal plan. After all, it’s your Lifestyle Plan, not mine. And in the end it has to be something that you can live with; because, like I said, it’s not a temporary thing.
But the story does have a happy ending. Today Charles and I are still reaping the benefits of our lifestyle change. To date, we’ve both lost over 20% of our body weight, and we feel great. I was able to get off the Norvasc; and after some stellar results on his lipid panel, Charles was able to say adios to his cholesterol medication. And we are able to travel now and participate in press trips, and not come home 15 pounds heavier. We figured out a way to make it all work. And we are loving it. Granted it takes a little planning and more than a small dose of patience (especially in the beginning), but the results are well worth it.
I do have to chime in with one small disclaimer and a piece of advice at this point. I am not a dietician or a doctor, but I did consult my own doctor before I embarked on this lifestyle change. I advise you to do the same.
The bottom line is, it works. So welcome to the journey. Yours will probably be different from mine, but it’s definitely a trip worth taking! Let me know how it goes! And watch for new recipes, tips and ideas on my blog at www.EatingWellontheRoad.com/blog/.