Well, it’s been three months since my last post, and a little more than that since I discovered that I had
rather very high blood pressure. The key to my problem is a combination of insufficient exercise, and an excess of everything else (predominantly food, drink and stress). I’m 5’7″, weigh in at 103kg, and I’m built like a rugby prop-forward. Which means that I carry the weight well, and most people don’t realise that I have much of a problem. Indeed, I might well be OK if I were as fit as a rugby prop-forward. But trust me … I’m not. The brutal truth is that I’d reached the point where walking up 2 or 3 flights of stairs left me breathless. I was basically eating myself to death. The doctor told me to fix the exercise, and that the weight and blood pressure then ought to follow suit.
Well, the good news is that in the intervening time I’ve been like a religious zealot, freshly converted to the cause. I’ve been cutting down on my portion size. I’ve cut out all snacks between meals, stopped eating any “junk” food, and tried to eat salads wherever possible. I also set myself the target of getting down the gym 3 times a week. And to be honest, I’ve surprised myself. I’ve pretty much managed it. The food was easier than I expected, and somehow I’ve managed to drag myself off to the gym no matter what I felt like, or what other commitments I had in my life (which has surprised my wife and friends, and amazed me).
I focused on cardiovascular exercise (building my stamina and strength) without placing undue strain on my joints. So I settled for rowing, the cross-trainer, the step-machine, and the resistance weights machines.
The first month was hell. At first I struggled to row more than about 500m. I couldn’t complete a programme on the cross-trainer, or keep my heart rate within the acceptable limits. The same for the step-machine. And I ached. All over. Bits of me ached that I didn’t believe could ache. But I stuck with it. And I put weight on. I actually gained 3kgs (about 8lbs for my US friends). D’Oh!
The second month was better. I found the rowing was getting easier. My heart rate wasn’t soaring off the scale any more. And I could actually keep going on the cross-trainer for the “normal” 30 minute programme. Ok, I still wasn’t working as hard as anyone else in the gym, but hey, it didn’t feel like I was about to expire on the spot either. And my weight was back down to where I’d started from. Hooray!
The last month has been much better. I’m now rowing 4,000-5,000m, with maximum resistance, which takes me about 20minutes. I’ve upped my work-rate on the cross-trainer to 120steps a minute, and moved to a more aggressive programme, which lasts 45mins. My heart rate is nicely “in the zone”, and I really miss my sessions down the gym when I can’t work out, as was the case last week when I had a flu bug. I’ve still not lost any weight, but I’ve lost inches from my waist, rear, and thighs. My clothes are all getting a little baggy, and I feel a million times better than I did three months back.
So today I took myself back to the doctors for a three-month check on my progress. And to my horror my blood pressure hasn’t changed. Not a jot. Nada. Zip. Nothing. It’s still massively high. I could have sat down and cried. So next week I have an ECG and a battery of blood tests. And next month I get the joy of being wired up to some portable device that will monitor my blood-pressure over a full 24hour period so the doctors can analyse if there are any interesting factors affecting it. I also got told to start thinking about formal diets (what do they think I’ve been doing?!), and the possibility of parmaceutical intervention for my high blood pressure.