Heart of the matter

As a part of the process to get to the route cause of my recent high blood pressure, I’ve been having different tests and scans.

Blood tests are always a challenge, especially if I’ve had to fast first. My veins just disappear into my body and I end up looking like a bruised pincushion! Of course I bruise easily just to add insult to injury.

My high blood pressure was first apparent in April, my GP regularly monitors my blood pressure as I take the oral contraceptive pill. I put it down to stress caused by work. It didn’t improve and my readings over the course of 24 hours were sky high and so I started taking medication. My GP also referred me on to a consultant for further investigations.

So far, I’ve had blood tests done. This showed that my levels of renin and aldosterone were high. To investigate further, I had a CT scan with contrast dye of my kidneys. Thankfully, my veins behaved that day and although it took two radiographers to insert the canula, it was successful. Its an odd sensation having the dye injected. First there’s the metallic taste, then, much more bizarrely is the warm sensation and feeling that you have wet yourself. I’ve had a few CT scans in my time but that is still the weirdest feeling!

Today’s test was an ECG. This was to see how my heart is functioning and to check if the high blood pressure has caused the muscle of my heart to thicken. Thankfully my heart is normal size and there is no thickening of the muscle. Its quite something to see and hear your heart beating on the screen. I really realised how much I take it for granted. There it is, beating away countless times over my forty years keeping me alive.

It really does make e appreciate the work it does. I really do need to kickstart my weight loss, I haven’t quite got back on track after my birthday. Time to get back on the low carb lifestyle and exercise – my heart and I deserve it and I want to be as healthy as I can to start a family. No more excuses. ❤️

Sassy 1 – 0 Anxiety

Its been quite a journey over the last few months, not always an easy one as I’ve battled my anxiety. As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve always been a worrier and been anxious at different times of stress, e.g. exams, waiting for results but never to the extent that it has seriously impacted my ability to get on with my day to day life. That changed when things came to a head in April.

Now it’s September and I’m actually feeling like me again. That’s not to say that I’m not anxious, there are still some unresolved work issues that need to be tackled but I feel like I can cope with resolving them. Don’t get me wrong, I am still taking medication and will be for a while yet. (While I am feeling more like me, I’m not ready to give up my safety net just yet.)

I have also gained huge awareness of my mental health. Truth be told, I hadn’t realised just how unwell I actually was. I just kept on going and wondered why I wasn’t getting anywhere and why I was constantly chasing my tail? I was exhausted, not sleeping properly and it took all of my energy to get up and get through the day. The really scary thing is, if my physical health hadn’t declined I would have kept on going and ended up in an even bigger mess. It almost doesn’t bear thinking about.

I now know just how critical it is to listen to my body and really take care of myself. Nothing is worth risking my mental and physical health for. I am also incredibly lucky to have a supportive partner, family and friends as well as a GP that I can open up to and know that they will help and support me. I know that sadly this is not the case for everyone, GP’s are overstretched and don’t always have time to spend with their patients.

When I look back to Christmas 2018 that I spent with my family, I barely recognise myself. I was anxious about the smallest of things and kept my feelings to myself. I doubted myself. I felt stupid and like a failure. I felt like I let my family down. I did have an inkling that I wasn’t right but didn’t act upon it. I had recently had the dosage of my anti-depressant increased and figured that once it kicked in, I’d be fine! Now I see that there should have been major alarm bells ringing that all was not well. Hindsight really is a marvellous thing.

I can’t go back and change the past, I don’t have a time machine. I can definitely learn from it though. I feel I really have. I will do my damndest to ensure that I never go back to that dark place again. Nor will I ever let anyone take my power from me or allow them to make me feel that way. I am annoyed that it wasn’t picked up on, but that’s another issue and not one I have control of. I can however, control my actions and behaviour. I am only responsible for me and my choices.

I am proud of the choices that I have made and am continuing to make to get and stay healthy – both physically and mentally. I’m on a positive path and well on the way to getting my sass back. Long may it last. Look out world, Sassy is coming for you…

This keto life

I decided to give the keto diet a go in my mission to shift the excess weight that I’ve been carrying. I’ve done my research and although not everything I’ve read is positive – ‘keto flu’ does not sound fun – people lose weight and keep it off.

I’m still trying to get my head around it if I’m honest; frying foods and using butter and cream feel alien. Its against everything we’re ever told. Conventional wisdom is always cut fat for weight loss. Well I’ve tried that so why not try the opposite?!

I will admit that I’m terrified of gaining weight and getting it wrong. Maybe that’s just because any of the diets I’ve done in my adult life (Slimming World, Weight Watchers, etc.) are about low fat. I’ve never been a huge fan of low fat products. If they’re removing fat (flavour) them they need to replace it with something. That something seems to me to be chemical sweeteners and I worry about putting that into my body. I know that sounds rich coming from a chocoholic sugar fan but there you go!

Sugar worries me too. Its definitely addictive. Its also empty calories. It gives your body a boost/ rush but then comes the crash and the craving for more. I know that genetically we are pre-disposed to prefer sweet fats as a throwback to our hunter- gather days. I also know that those days are long gone. Growing up, sweet treats were exactly that: treats. Over the years that I gained the weight, they ceased to be treats and became a more regular part of my diet.

There does seem to be something sensible to me about eating natural fats; olive oil, butter, cheeses, avocados rather than processed foods/ oils. So far I’m still eating all the fresh vegetables and salad ingredients that I was before. I’m still eating chicken, fish and eggs. The only difference is that I’m using butter more and cream is no longer the enemy.

I’m four days in and I don’t miss carbs or chocolate. I have no cravings and I feel satisfied. I’m eating till I’m full and being more mindful in my eating – no more hoovering my food. I’m taking time to taste it and enjoy it. I think I’ve found what will work for me long term, I’ve lost 2 pounds so far and I feel good.

I haven’t cut carbs for good, I’ll still enjoy roast potatoes as part of my Christmas dinner and order pasta as a main if I’m out for dinner. Dessert will also be on the menu, but they will be treats and I’ll enjoy them as such.

You are what you eat

I haven’t eaten great recently, there’s been far too many takeaways, bars of chocolate, baked treats and big portions. I’m aware that I’m not eating right and putting pressure on myself to lose weight as my big birthday approaches. This just makes things worse as I go into full on sabotage mode.

I’m also back at my consultant for my high blood pressure in the next few weeks too. I agreed to exercise much more regularly and keep up my healthy lifestyle at my last appointment. Last time I weighed myself I’d gained back all the weight I’d lost. My jeans are too tight and I feel very bloated and uncomfortable. It hasn’t stopped me eating though.

I’m risking my health. I’m already on medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. My excess weight is doing nothing to help my asthma either. I’m quite an intelligent person, so what is going on with my food choices?!?

I was never overweight growing up, as a family we ate healthily and had sweets/ chocolate as a treat. All my bad food choices have been made as an adult. My weight gain started when I moved into my own flat after I finished at university. I ate well at university (we’ll ignore the terrible food in the catered halls of residence that led to the Tuesday chinese takeaway, Super noodles or the contents of the vending machine.)

I LOVE food. I think about food a lot. After breakfast I think about my lunch and after lunch I think about my dinner. I love trying new things and eating out. I can cook. I love cooking and love baking too. I get pleasure from food. I think my problem is that I don’t listen to my body. I get excited and I eat quickly. I don’t give my stomach time to signal to my brain that I’m full. I also eat mindlessly, I can easily eat biscuits/ chocolate/ cake whilst waiting for the kettle to boil and then have more biscuits/ chocolate/ cake with my cup of tea. I’m also very bad for nibbling while I’m cooking.

I have lost weight before, I lost 3 stones nearly 10 years ago doing WeightWatchers. Then I had 2 car accidents and would cheer myself up eating treats. I gained back all the weight that I lost. My weight has been pretty steady since then. I don’t see treat foods as treat foods, they’re part of my regular diet. I still turn to food to cheer me up. I have a very sweet tooth too. I know what all my pitfalls are and what I need to do. I just can’t seem to get my head into the right mindset to make the necessary changes.

I don’t want to die young. I don’t want to have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. What am I waiting for? I have to act. Tomorrow is another day. It will be the day that I start to lose weight for good. I have to. I want to live a healthy life. Time to put my money where my mouth is. If you are what you eat, starting tomorrow I’m going to be wholesome and healthy.

Be more cat

As I’ve been at home more recently, I’ve spent a lot more time with my cat. He’s always been like my shadow but even more so now. He was a stray so its taken him some time to adapt to having a human and live with a human.

He’s always been friendly, he’d come to visit usually miaowing to announce his arrival then rub against my legs to say hello properly. I naturally assumed as he was in good condition, with a shiny coat, that he lived with his owners nearby.

It became apparent though that this was not the case…he appeared a few times looking dirty and unkempt. He let me clean him up, had a snooze then went on his merry way. This happened several times over a week or so before he disappeared for a few days. This was unusual, even if he didn’t come to visit, I’d see him pass through the garden.

One night, I heard a faint miaow. I opened the door to look out and even in the dark, I could see him, filthy dirty, injured on the garden wall. He jumped down and padded into the house. He’d been in a fight. He was covered in blood and dirt and looked exhausted. I cleaned him up, he was so patient and trusting and as gentle as I tried to be, I could see that he was in pain. I fed him and for the first time he hopped up on the sofa and fell asleep beside me. Exhausted. But he knew he was safe.

He’s been with me ever since. Poor boy then got cat flu and lost his miaow for a week or so but thankfully not permanently. I wouldn’t be without him now. His purr is so soothing, it really calms me down. He also gives me someone else to focus on. He needs to be fed and loves his belly rubs. He also loves his sleep – he’s asleep next to me on the sofa as I type this.

I’ve really seen his confidence increase and seen him relax into his environment. He’d never seen stairs before and was very tentative at first. I’d use treats and a soft tone to help him…he’d climb up 2 or 3 stairs, enjoy being petted but then he’d go back down and stay there. I was so delighted one night when I was getting ready for bed and heard him miaow to discover him sat on the landing, his first time ever. He then went from taking a few tentative steps into the bedroom to being perfectly comfortable sleeping beside me. When I’m out at work, he sleeps on the bed and then comes down to greet me when I come home.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that even when life is stressful, its so important to spend time with those you love, to not lose faith or trust in the world, to relax, to spend time doing things you find relaxing and enjoyable, to eat well and try to get enough sleep. Be more cat.

Self-care Saturday

This is what I’ve been doing today. Its been a bit of a rollercoaster week, my emotions have been on quite a ride seeing good days and tough days. Today is a tough day but there we go.

Today has involved washing my bed sheets. I love that feeling of getting into bed when there’s fresh, clean sheets on it. I also find tasks that show results soothing. So I also did some shredding, getting rid of old receipts and paperwork that I no longer need.

I’ve also eaten and cooked what I fancied. Yes, I am trying to be healthy and lose weight but I really fancied chicken satay so that’s what I made. There was also lots of tea and a very chocolatey chocolate chip cookie, it was delicious and I really enjoyed it. Trying to add balance, I enjoyed some delicious strawberries too.

I spent some time in the garden too…nothing strenuous just deadheading my roses, watering my thirsty plants and enjoying watching the butterflies. Over the last few days, when the weather has been dry I’ve seen quite a few. I have a budlija bush in my garden, which they like. My cat likes butterflies too….he likes to catch them so it can be anxiety provoking too.

Today was also about chilling out. I didn’t sleep well last night so I needed to take some time, relax on the sofa and watch some TV. My guilty pleasure at the moment is Long Island Medium. I’d love a reading with Teresa. I have quite a few loved ones who have passed away, it’d be lovely to hear from them again.

Another self-care strategy is having a nice warm shower, using my favourite shower gel and body lotion then putting on a clean pair of pyjamas. So it was only 6pm, so what! This is my self care day and this is what I needed. Today was also the day that I finished my night cream, I have a new tub so all is good but, I find finishing things very satisfying.

I also tried something new today, nothing exciting, just new stain remover and fabric conditioner but I like them. Admittedly, I’m going backwards…my new fabric conditioner is called Spring Awakening and my old one was Summer Breeze. They say a change is as good as a rest, so Spring Awakening it is.

Most important of all, is that I feel better. Tomorrow is another day….here’s hoping it’s a good one!

Tired of feeling anxious

Today has been a bad day. Nothing particularly bad has happened, I’m just tired of feeling like I’m living on my nerves all the time. I’m tired of feeling jittery and jumping at every notification that my phone sounds. Tired of jumping at every noise the wind makes. Tired of feeling overwhelmed.

I know it takes time for medication to kick in…I just wish it would hurry up. At the same time, I’m annoyed at myself for needing medication. It makes me tired too, so in the mornings I feel spaced out and discombobulated.

Discombobulated. I like that word. I like words. My blogging is helping me put my thoughts and feelings ‘on paper’ so to speak. I like writing, I’ve kept a journal for as long as I can remember. Still do. I like that this is separate.

I’m also annoyed and frustrated at myself for having slipped back into my unhealthy eating habits and having gained five pounds. I really want chocolate to cheer myself up but don’t want to gain more weight or go out to buy chocolate. Food/ eating is not a healthy coping strategy. Now is not the time to be hard on myself, I’m still working on being kind to myself. Tomorrow is a new day, I’ll get back on track and start using my NutraCheck app again.

I am so thankful for my cat. He’s very affectionate and loves being petted and having his belly rubbed. His purr is so soothing, I could listen to it all day. He’s very vocal and not shy at letting me know if he’s hungry or wants attention. We look after each other. I’d be lost without him.

My boyfriend is also a brilliant support. He keeps me sane, keeps me calm and can always make me feel better. Even thinking about him makes me smile. He makes me happy. We talk all the time and message each other loads when we don’t see each other. I’m so lucky that we found each other. I know I’ve definitely met my soulmate. Suddenly I don’t feel quite so anxious anymore.