Category Archives: Nutrition

[Na] : Sodium Diaries

Some things I just can’t shake and the salt shaker is one of them. I have severe hypertension (severe High Blood Pressure). When I was initially diagnosed with HBP I was 13. I had developed mono during middle school and despite my efforts to not miss school I had to go to the doctor. The doc discovered that my blood pressure was elevated to 170 / 120. I was told that from that day forward I would be on medication to regulate my blood pressure for the remainder of my life. No one looked further into why a teenager would have HBP they simply defaulted to it just being “genetic”. During my mid-20′s, quite possibly from a “quarter life crisis”, I decided that I will no longer settle for the “default”. A few years later after losing weight and reducing my sodium intake “a little too drastically” I was finally able to try a complete reduction of medication. I was no longer on medication.

I had been keeping a journal of my small victories of conquering my blood pressure. Every visit back to the doctor reflected a lower dosage and one step closer to not being medicine dependent. After several visits here is the entry that I wrote:

7/2/2010: Friday, I went to the doctor to have my blood pressure evaluated. It was decided that I would come off my blood pressure medicine and be reevaluated in August to check the rest of my progress. I have been on high blood pressure medication for 14 years! I have been on it since I was 13! Only this year I have gotten serious about my health and well being. I must say that it has been one of my proudest moments I’ve ever had. Being able to do that has given me such a sense of accomplishment. I don’t think I fully understand or can yet comprehend the importance of what I’ve done. I’ve given myself a feeling of “I can do ANYTHING” attitude. The doctor didn’t seem 100% confident but I’m going for it. I’ve gone so far and I’m going to keep going.”

But, this is real life. I can not tell you that I have continued to be successful over the past two years. What I can tell you is that I failed. That little seed of negativity from my doctor brought my optimism down. I’m not ashamed to admit it. The reason why I am not ashamed is because life happens. Stress happens. Food happens. Lack of focus, preparation, and motivation most certainly happens. Two weeks after I got off my medication all of those things happened. It was one of those instances where you get to a goal and you suddenly think that you no longer have to put in the same level of dedication that you did before to sustain the same level of success.

Flash forward to a few weeks later:

7/14/2010: Things are not going the way I planned with my blood pressure. Tomorrow makes two weeks that I’ve been off the meds and yesterday it skyrocketed to 154/91 after a very stressful day at work. I had to take today off because of the migraine I got yesterday that lasted until this morning. I have to be able to lay my head down at night and have peace. I need peace. My heart, apparently, can not take anything stressful. I have to get the negative out of my mind but how do I do that? I am such a dreading person.

7/21/2010: The fluid retention I’ve been having lately is driving me up the wall! I’m sinking. I’ve reached the place I’ve reached in the past where I find myself backsliding, falling short. This always happens when I’ve reached a great feat.

You may ask why I gave up. I didn’t give up….I gave out.My Garden

To tell you how I gave out I’ll need to tell you how I managed to be successful, initially. I was overweight, ate fast food for nearly every meal, and my activity had become minimal because of spinal issues. The fix was dropping the first 25 pounds by turning my walking into jogging and my processed nightmare of a diet into my own garden based meals. My miles started adding up and my sodium was being deduced at significant rates. I went from having 3,000mg of sodium a day to 500-750 a day. I had constructed a perfect plan that worked flawlessly, except for when I was stressed, full of anxiety and looked for comfort foods.

Now, here’s why I gave out. I could not maintain the level of consistency every single day. My habits became monotonous. I was eating the same foods day in and day out. As far as nutrition went it was decent but boring. Chicken six days out seven gets old and then my appetite gets restless. Now, I have a greater reason to fine tune my nutrition and more specifically my sodium intake. Whenever I do have children, I want to be able to not be scared to be a high risk pregnancy. I, currently, am classified as a high risk pregnancy if I do choose to have a baby. It wasn’t a surprise to hear when I was speaking candidly with my obgyn about the future at a recent routine check-up. When I was first put on the BP meds the doctor told me that I, under NO circumstances, could get pregnant while on the medication I was taking. The side effects, risks, defects, and abnormalities that “would” not “might” occur was not worth the risk. At 13, you don’t think about having children. Now that I’m almost 30 I realize the severity that the hypertension plays in my wanting to start a family.

Needless to say I have started seeking out new medications that would be less harmful. Personally, I’m more determined than ever to get off the meds again, permanently. It’s going to take time but I know it can happen I just need to trust that I don’t have to cut back so drastically and have faith that if I do the best I can that all will turn out for the best as well.

No more settling for the “default” not unless the default is….determined.