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by riley harrison

 That which does not kill me makes me stronger


Last week, being prepared for a very grim prognosis, I overcame procrastination, fear and denial and visited my doctor. My worst fears were unfounded and I kiddingly told my doctor that now I have to find something else to worry about. It was a major wakeup call.  A vast feeling of relief swept over me but I  was constantly bugged by a very nagging question: why isn’t  health my top priority. No amount of rationalization about necessary comprise was satisfactory; I knew better. So I began to wonder would it be possible for me to crank it up a notch and live a healthier existence without burdensome sacrifice and deprivation. I knew that I didn’t have the discipline (or desire)  to eat rabbit food (lettuce) and brussel sprouts 3 times a time for the rest of my life. My immediate concerns were that I had put on ten lbs. during my last vacation and really hadn’t gotten serious about losing the weight and my blood pressure had crept up to 137. If I was really serious about weight loss and lower blood pressure, a few things would have to change immediately. I needed accountability; I started counting calories and weighing in daily. I made a commitment to lose ten lbs via a healthy diet (low fat and lots of veggies and fruits) and lower my blood pressure to 127 in 6 weeks .  I suspected caffeine played a major role in my high blood pressure. I decided to restrict myself to  1-1 ½  cups of coffee in the morning and another cup around  2:00 and to replace diet sodas with water. After one week, my blood pressure dropped to 112. That’s a level I can live with (no pun intended).

The remaining large piece of the puzzle was identifying and handling stress/anger more effectively. The other day I was exiting a parking ramp. It took 14 minutes because only one (very slow) parking attendant was on duty. I was in the ramp for 1 hour and 1 minute but was charged for two hours. I don’t handle these situations well.  I remember a friend of mine who was travelling across the country and had stopped to purchase a ½ pint of milk for lunch. Forty five minutes later he discovered that the milk was sour. He turned around, went back and demanded a refund. Kathy thinks that these types of situations require one to balance cost (time, money, energy and angst) vs. the desired outcome. She calls it the hassle factor. No matter how “righteous” the cause, some battles just don’t need to be fought. These types of situations are hard for me to accept and let go. Engaging in conversations concerning contentious issues in which no minds will be altered and no opinions swayed (politics and religion come to mind)  is fertile ground for exploration. These futile discussions often become much too heated and upsetting.

I plan to create my own support consisting of like-minded people to offset and balance the influence of friends who could really give a rip about healthy living (a sharp chest pain will solve that problem nicely).  Books written by Dean Ornish (healthy living) and Jon Cabat Zinn (meditation and stress reduction) will be my written guides.

That’s basically the plan but I will continue to do ongoing tweaking and experimentation.   Reduction in caffeine intake created a big gap. I plan to supplement my coffee intake with green tea. I’ve signed up for a yoga class at the YMCA (new experience for me).

I know I can’t white-knuckle myself to success with sheer willpower. I’m not into martyrdom and deprivation but I think that this is a reasonable plan which will work. The benefits are obvious. That’s the beauty of a wake-up call. Wish me luck.

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