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  • How soon should lifestyle changes take effect?

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    Old 09-03-2004, 01:48 PM   #1
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    How soon should lifestyle changes take effect?


    I have been doctors a couple of time recently and have had BP reading of 130/93 and 125/90 and the doc said to change my lifestyle and come back in a month.

    Im 29, Male, slightly overweight, smoke, eat crap, drink and never excercise!

    Since the last doc visit about a week ago ive joined the gym, stopped eating crap, cut back on drinking and tried to cut down smoking.

    The nurse was at the gym tonight checking blood pressures and i had a go and was alarmed to see a reading of 139/99. Maybe i was nervous cos im aware of the problem but my question is, if lifestyle changes alone are a fix for my BP problem then how soon am i likely to see some positive readings?

    Im worried sick about it, in tears and fear im gonna end up on medication i can never come off.

    Any assistance appreciated.



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    Old 09-04-2004, 02:27 PM   #2
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    Re: How soon should lifestyle changes take effect?


    Oh my dear, no tears allowed!
    First of all, your blood pressure is by no means alarming....and I'll bet the lifestyle changes you make will bring it down substantially.

    Seems to me that one month may a bit too soon to make a proper determination about these changes, although since you you are slightly overweight, even a modest 10 lb reduction in weight can make a HUGE difference in your BP. HUGE!!!

    3 month follow-up is what my doctor recommends with BP #s like yours, that is if you have no other health issues going on and are otherwise healthy. But every physician has different approaches. If you are vigilent with your exercise and diet, you should see some changes for the better within a month. Just don't let the anxiety about it all defeat the whole thing!

    You're fine and in no danger of keeling over!

    Some tips for you:
    Reduce your daily sodium/salt intake to no more than 2400 mgs a day. This is really tough if you love crap, as you say! This is no more than a teaspoon a day. Total. READ LABELS. Do not add table salt to anything. Get creative with herbs and spices. Lemon juice helps add that "tang" salt-lovers crave.
    Cut back on frozen dinners, pizza, packaged mixes, canned soups or vegetables, etc that all tend to be loaded with sodium. Buy canned stuff that says "no salt added".

    Your diet in general should be rich in fruits and vegetables.

    Buy fresh foods as much as you can.

    Eat poutry, fish and lean meat rather than canned or processed stuff as much as possible.

    Buy low-fat dairy products, and avoid anything that says "hydrogenated" on the label like the plague. Cut back on saturated fats (that's animal fat) overall. Read those labels and be aware that when you see fat grams listed, it is usually "per serving", and a "serving" can often mean only a tablespoon!

    It's great you joined the gym! Not sure what you are working on there but even brisk walking in "real life" (or on a treadmill!) for 30 minutes on most days of the week brings enormous benefit for blood pressure.

    Regarding drinking, it's okay in moderation and by that they mean for males 2 or less drinks a day. For women, 1 or less...

    Obviously, I don't have to tell you about smoking... But even cutting back will help.

    Also, some over-the-counter drugs can affect BP...Advil, Motrin and other NSAIDs, decongestants, and certain herbs like bitter orange or ma huang.

    Here's a link with lots of info for you (some of which I've mentioned already) on how to reduce your BP without meds:

    [The boards do not parse links automatically anymore so you'll have to copy and paste the URL into your address bar.]

    zuzu xxx

    Old 09-04-2004, 02:57 PM   #3
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    Re: How soon should lifestyle changes take effect?

    P.S. I just wanted to add that it might be a good idea for you to invest in your own home BP kit to monitor your BP at home while you're making all these changes and until you see the doctor.

    BP readings at a doctor's office are almost ALWAYS higher than at home. (Artificial environment, anxiety, etc).

    Hypertension, by defininition, should only be diagnosed when BP is elevated and sustained at elevated readings over time, when relaxed.

    zuzu xx

    Old 09-05-2004, 11:02 PM   #4
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    Re: How soon should lifestyle changes take effect?

    I agree with zuzu. Cut out the alcohol and other beverage stimulants (soda, coffee and caffinated tea) and instead try to drink water, decaf tea, fruit juice, etc. If you want to have some alcohol, limit it to red wine, which has been shown to have heart benefits, especially red zinfandels.

    Salt is a major foe, it's everywhere. Best way to get away from it is to move away from prepackaged products and make it from scratch. For instance, instead of canned tomatoes, chop up a few fresh ones. If you like mexican, look at flour tortillas, the amount of salt is incredible and fairly fatty if I remember right as well, switch to corn tortillas which have almost no salt or fat in them at all. Which brings up another point, use whole wheat flour, spelt, quinoa, rye, buckwheat or cornmeal instead of white flour, which is pretty much nutritionally devoid.

    Get a good dutch oven and make soups from scratch, what you can whip together is far tastier than that stuff Campells passes off for "soup".

    What you whip together doesn't need to be anything elaborate, you can make some pretty good stuff very easily, not much harder than "a man, a can and a plan" sorta cooking, but no can here

    Cut out as much meat as possible and move to fresh cooked beans, lentils and split peas, they are excellent sources of protein and very high in fiber, plus very cheap dry. Lentils and mung beans do not need to be presoaked overnight, but it isn't hard for beans that do, just sit them out the night before. Some do take about an hour to cook, but if turn it on first thing when you get home from work, they'll be well on their way by if not done the time your ready to sit down. Try going vegetarian, even if for a short while, maybe a few days meatless and others can eat some. Portabella muchrooms, tempeh, dense tofu and textured vegetable protein (TVP) all can be cooked to be meaty like, and if you like grilling, don't worry, you can slap the portabellas, tofu burgers or tofu hotdogs on the grill.

    Bread surprisingly enough has a bit of salt in it too, like 7-11% RDA per slice in most brands I remember my mom buying, ouch. I rarely eat bread anymore, instead I predominately eat brown rice, which is a lot more nutritious than white rice. Brown, basmati, and wild rices are good. If you don't like rice, well you obviously don't have a rice cooker I eat tons of rice since I got my rice cooker, it comes out perfect everytime (plus I use it to cook beans and other stuff in) I love it sooo much.

    I'd also try to cut out dairy as much as possible, only dairy I still eat is plain cultured yogurt for the beneficial bacterias. Most flavored yogurt has a ton of sugar in it, get the plain and mix in your own fruit or granola, tons better tasting.

    For oils, use grapeseed, olive oil or sesame oil, these are very good oils and healthy to use.

    Move to as much fresh fruits and vegetables as possible.

    If you have to have a sweet fix, try using honey, agave nectar or molasses (blackstrap is best, but is an aquired taste I suppose). There are also a number of sugar substitutes, many of which can be easily found at health food stores or in the healthy foods sections of mass supermarkets. As for desert, nobody said desert has to be bad for you, try something healthy, like cooked acorn squash and pecan nuts is absolutely devine and completely guilt free. Rice pudding with raisens or berries, black bean patties with honey, barley cakes with honey or molasses, and tapioca also come to mind.

    I know what your going to say, "that stuff tastes like hay/has no taste/etc", but just as you've been conditioned to tons of salt and suger and whatnot, it can be unlearned, plus if you become handy with spices and herbs it's amazing what can be done.

    Last edited by alptraum; 09-05-2004 at 11:37 PM.

    Old 09-06-2004, 07:17 AM   #5
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    Re: How soon should lifestyle changes take effect?

    Thanks for all the tips and encouragement people. I will report back when i go back docs.



    Old 09-06-2004, 11:04 PM   #6
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    Re: How soon should lifestyle changes take effect?

    Losing 20 lbs for me got my BP back to normal and I am 68 so it should work for you. Exercise helps too but because of a bad knee I was limited but the weight loss did it.

    Old 09-07-2004, 04:58 AM   #7
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    Re: How soon should lifestyle changes take effect?

    I agree with Canyondweller: NOTHING works as fast to lower BP as weight loss does! Sometimes the difference is startling with just a 20-30 pound loss (of course there no JUST about it when you are doing the dieting)

    Last edited by zip2play; 09-07-2004 at 04:58 AM.

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