Back in the early Autumn of 2002, I'd already decided that I needed to lose some weight, in fact had already started to lose it and was basically feeling pretty good about life, when I discovered that I had high blood pressure. I started taking medication and it dropped to an acceptable level, but that was the real motivator to continue with the diet changes and weight loss. Danger of death from stroke or heart disease concentrates the mind wonderfully. *g*
I had put on a lot of weight in the few years leading up to that moment. Every lifestyle change I'd made, such as giving up keeping a horse and changing my job had added another 4lbs. In my previous job, I usually managed a 20 minute walk most lunchtimes. Working where I do now, I have to get into the car outside my front door, drive to work, work all day and drive home again. If you get back at 10.00 p.m. (which I do three nights a week), there's no question of going out for a walk or bike ride or even to the gym. I also spent far too much time sitting at the computer at weekends. So the weight had crept up, gradually but steadily.
I realise that 10st 4lbs (144lbs) isn't overweight at all by many people's standards. One web page I consulted gave that as the top of the normal range for a woman of my height (5' 4"). But it was overweight for me. I felt fat. I got breathless climbing the stairs and couldn't bend down to pick things up off the floor or put my shoes and socks on without a struggle. I've always had a tendency to a bad back and the extra weight wasn't doing it any good. And my blood sugar levels kept going up and down like a yo-yo. I had to have a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack to stop myself feeling cold and distant and vague. I'd come in from work absolutely starving and snack on an apple and/or a couple of biscuits while I made dinner. Then I began to be thirsty all the time. When it got to the point where I was waking up in the night for a drink of water, I knew something was wrong. My symptoms fitted diabetes -- apart from the gaining weight. However, after consulting the Web, I found a condition called Insulin Resistance, which though not diabetes itself, can lead to it. The advice was to cut out sugar, lose weight and exercise more. So I had a long hard look at what I was eating, made some serious readjustments to my diet and also made an appointment with the doctor who arranged for me to come in again for a blood test.
By the time I saw her the second time, for the results of the blood test, I had already lost 4lbs and was feeling a lot better. The test said my blood sugar levels were well in the normal range, which was reassuring and so I felt I'd solved the problem. (In fact I don't think the doctor was convinced that there was ever anything wrong, but I'm sure there was.) But just as I was about to get up and leave, she said, "We haven't taken your blood pressure for a while, have we?" And so, as I said above, we discovered it was way higher than it should have been. And then shortly after that, she discovered that I also have high cholesterol...
That's all by way of background. The situation now is that the weight has remained stable at 8st 9lbs (± 1lb) for 2 years. Likewise the blood pressure has remained fine while the cholesterol has remained resolutely high. Except that recently I managed to reduce the cholesterol, but I think it was at the expense of putting the blood pressure up. So, partly because I've put on a couple of pounds over Christmas and need to get back to my target weight and partly because I want to investigate what, if anything, affects my cholesterol level and whether the red yeast rice tablets (which worked on the cholesterol, but which I've stopped taking for the moment) did, as I suspect, result in a raised blood pressure, I'm going to try being my own guinea pig and will start conducting dietary experiments, the results of which I'll post here, in case they're of use to anyone else.