Playing the Numbers

By: Chaunte McClure

While some of you were trying to figure out the winning numbers for the $758.7 million Powerball jackpot last month, I dreamed of what I’d do with the money if I won. Oh, I’d pay off every bill we owe, invest in a new home and other real estate and, of course, save, save, save. I never dreamed of which numbers I’d choose because of greater importance to me the numbers are displaying on my brand-spanking new wrist blood pressure monitor.

I don’t even play the lottery and I decided not to gamble with my health after being diagnosed with hypertension in July.

I went to the doctor for unrelated symptoms and as soon as the doctor walked in he asked, “What’s going on with your blood pressure?”

I had no idea. I would normally blame my high numbers on the stress of seminary, but that was two months behind me and at the time, I didn’t have much work stress.

My doctor asked me to monitor my blood pressure for 10 days, then come back and he’d decide if I need a prescription.

I hate taking medicine. I mean, really hate it.

It was easy to start my on-again, off-again relationship with morning or evening walks. I was determined to do whatever it took to get my number down, but nothing worked – at least not immediately.

I borrowed a blood pressure monitor and every time I checked, my numbers were still too high.

I recorded these numbers: 162/ 99, 141/105, 135/95, 157/107. (The optimal numbers are 120/80 or less.)

Sure, anxiety contributed to some of that because I kept thinking about a first cousin who died of a stroke less than two years ago and he was only about 35 years old. Just a few months later, one of my aunts suffered a stroke. Then I remembered Granddaddy had at least three strokes. That’s enough to send anyone into a tizzy.

I decided not to wait the ten days and go to my family doctor before the worst happens. I got an appointment within a week of my previous doctor’s visit. I was expecting exactly what I was told. After sharing my family history, the doctor said, “I’m going to put you on a blood pressure medication.”

I had to ask, “How long do you think I’ll be on the medication?”

He said, “For the rest of your life.” (Insert eyes emoji here!)

That’s not what I wanted to hear and honestly, I thought, “That’s what you think, doc.” I was about to put my faith into overdrive when the truth of the matter is I need to listen to my doctor.

If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure or if your doctor has asked you to monitor your numbers, please, listen to your doctor.

High blood pressure affects your health, leading to stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease.

Get into the habit of checking your BP at home or at a local pharmacy. Your life is worth it.

New Beginnings

By: Rachel Sircy

As I sit writing this post I am eating one of my new favorite snacks: plain toasted walnuts. That’s right, there is absolutely no seasoning, no salt, no anything on these walnuts. I bought a bag of walnuts from the baking section of my local Aldi and simply toasted them in a dry skillet. And they are delicious.

walnuts

I know what you’re probably thinking, because it’s the same thing that I tend to think when I read health food blogs. You’re probably thinking that I am either deluding myself into believing that plain, slightly burnt walnuts are really good OR I’m just pretending to like them so that I can lord my good health habits over all of you out there who are reading this while eating potato chips. Since I’m usually the one who’s out there eating potato chips, I tend to believe the latter about people who write health food blogs. While I can’t give you a 100% guarantee that I’m not delusional, I can promise you that I’m not making this up. There really are healthy foods out there that actually taste good. The trick is just finding out what tastes good to you.

Right now, I’m on an exploratory journey to find healthy, low-fat foods that taste good to me. I wasn’t planning taking this journey this year. I mean, I wanted to lose some weight, and I thought that eating a little healthier might be a part of that. To be honest, I thought I already WAS eating healthy. I thought the extra weight I was carrying around was just a natural consequence of the fact that I HATE exercising and that I snack too much. But a recent letter in the mail detailing the results of my most recent bloodwork revealed that my cholesterol was over 100 points higher than I had expected. Clearly, I wasn’t doing something right.

I still don’t know if my high cholesterol is due entirely to my diet, or if it could be a side effect of the gluten free diet that I’m on because of the celiac disease, or if it’s genetic. Really, that knowledge is of secondary importance to me. I know what I need to know. I know that my cholesterol is high. I know that people with celiac disease may be up to twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease according to a recent study by the American College of Cardiology. And, most importantly, I know that I have a chance to change my fate with a change in diet and by increasing activity and exercise in my life. Sometimes diet and exercise alone don’t work – yes, I’ve seen those cholesterol medication commercials, too. But sometimes they do and they don’t come with the nasty side effects of some medications. I worked for six years answering phones in a doctor’s office and I’ve heard people describe the hardships of life on medications. If there is anything that I can do to avoid those hardships, I am going to do it.

In my last post, I said that I was going to talk to my friend, Tiara, who has her PhD in nutrition, about what to do and what to eat to get me started on this path to lower cholesterol and a healthier life. The gist of what she told me was what I expected, but really didn’t want to hear: vegetables are good and Cheetos are not. I told Tiara that I usually get all my junk food from various health food stores around town. I thought that that fact alone should have made a difference in my health. And do you know what she told me? Junk food is junk food regardless of whether or not it has a label that says it’s organic. Gluten free junk food is some of the worst junk food on the market – it’s low on fiber and other nutrients and high on fat and salt and sugar, more so than many gluten-filled products.

So, there’s really nothing to be done other than to get rid of the junk and find some wholesome food that I like to eat. I’m starting with one of the foods that the Harvard Health Newsletter states will help to lower your cholesterol: nuts. And, of course, I have to start to find an exercise routine that I like and that I will stick to. This evening my husband is taking me to our local park to attempt to teach me how to play tennis as part of his Valentine’s day gift to me. (I’m not going to say which park because I don’t feel like being totally publicly humiliated.)

And, since I enjoy recommending books to read, I’m going to share one that I have just started reading myself: The Daniel Plan. It’s a book by Rick Warren (and others) that outlines a method for a total lifestyle change, one that is supposed to be healthier for mind, body and soul. You may like it, you may not. I haven’t read it before, so I can’t vouch for it. I haven’t committed myself to the Daniel Plan diet, but I’m at least considering it. (Actually, if I’m going to be perfectly honest, I scoffed at the ideas in this book when my mother-in-law first bought it a few years ago, back when I was still nice and thin. Well, fat happens and I’ve changed my mind since then. We’ll see how things turn out.)

Until my next post, I wish you all happy reading and health(ier) eating!

Hurdles

By: Rachel Sircy 

Since my last post – the one about New Year’s resolutions and losing weight and all that – I have encountered a very unexpected obstacle in my path to health and happiness.

Every Woman Blog - Heart Health

I recently had some lab results come back in the mail with some bad news. My overall cholesterol levels were well over 100 points higher than I had expected them to be. My LDL (bad cholesterol) was way up and my HDL (good cholesterol) was way down. I actually dropped the results in horror when my eyes lighted on those awful numbers.

**Side Note: I should state here that my numbers, while high, are not so high that I have to take immediate action or that I must start medication right away. But they were pretty high for a person my age and they do require me to make some permanent lifestyle changes. **

Now, truth be told, I haven’t had my lipids checked in about 6 years. The only reason that I had labs drawn last month is that I get them for free during the month of my birthday by virtue of being a Lexington Medical Center Employee. The last time I had my levels checked, my cholesterol was only slightly elevated. Since that time, I had thought that I was eating a healthier diet overall. I have certainly become a better celiac – better at keeping myself safe from gluten. True, I have had a child since the last time I had my cholesterol checked, and I have retained the baby weight. But could an addition of 30 pounds really cause such a jump in cholesterol? Or, could it be genetics? Could it have something to do with the subject of this study by the American College of Cardiology, which found that celiac patients following strict gluten-free diets may be twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease? The study also found that celiacs may have a slightly higher risk of having high cholesterol levels while maintaining low blood pressure (which is the case with me). Could it be – and I hate to admit it – the fact that I loathe exercise?

I have no idea at this point what could have caused this change in my body. However, I do know that I am the kind of person who fixes things that are broken. And that is what I intend to do with this situation with my health. I am starting the process with this: this Saturday I am having dinner with a friend from church, Dr. Tiara Rosemond, who has her PhD in Nutrition and Public Health, to see what I should and should not be eating.

I am inviting every reader to follow along with me as I start this investigative journey and make some huge lifestyle changes. I’ve never had such a long list of resolutions in my life. This will certainly be a year to remember!

Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler Set for April 23 in Columbia

12898231_1319097194783959_2266194334522175898_o

Women of all ages will fill the streets of downtown Columbia as Lexington Medical Center presents the 15th annual Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler on Saturday, April 23 at 8:30 a.m. A women’s only event, the race features a five-mile run, a five-mile walk and a three-mile walk.

The Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler celebrates women and the power of a healthy lifestyle. It also raises awareness that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. The picturesque course begins at the top of Finlay Park, winds around the South Carolina Governor’s Mansion, Main Street, Congaree Vista and into the historic neighborhoods next to the University of South Carolina campus. It finishes with a downhill stretch to the bottom of Finlay Park.

Launched by the Carolina Marathon Association in 2002, the Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler is South Carolina’s first women’s only road race. It has grown from fewer than 400 female participants in its first year to more than 2,300. Sponsored in conjunction with WIS News 10, the race offers women of all athletic abilities the opportunity to participate in a comforting, supportive environment. Elite athletes, as well as first-timers, enjoy the unique event that offers a red rose at the finish line and special refreshments that include chocolate-covered strawberries.

The event begins with an opening ceremony at 8:00 a.m. featuring Dawndy Mercer Plank and Judi Gatson of WIS News 10. The five-mile run begins at 8:30 a.m., and the walk begins at 8:35 a.m.  Race day registration will be held from 7:00 – 8:00 a.m. at Arsenal Hill, located at 1900 Lincoln Street near the start line and the Laurel Street entrance to Finlay Park.

“This women’s only run and walk helps us to spread the word that heart disease is preventable and controllable,” said Harriet Horton, vice president at Lexington Medical Center. “We encourage women of all fitness levels to come out and participate.”

Cash awards will be presented to runners in the following categories:

  • Top five overall finishers: $500/$400/$300/$200/$150
  • Top three masters finishers: $150/$125/$100
  • Top three grand masters finishers: $100/$75/$50
  • Top three senior grand masters finishers: $75/$50/$25

 Awards will be presented to the top three overall finishers in each age category: 14 and under, 15-19, 20-24, 25-29, 30-34, 35-39, 40-44, 45-49, 50-54, 55-59, 60-64, 65-69 and 70+.

2_heartsole2015_slide

Walkers are eligible for prizes based on participation. All awards and prizes will be presented at the post-event ceremony in Finlay Park. After the event, participants enjoy special refreshments, entertainment and an expo featuring health screenings from Lexington Medical Center, and health and fitness-related services from local vendors.

Registration is $35 through April 22 and $45 on race day.

Participants are asked to bring “gently used” running or walking shoes to packet pick-up on Friday, April 22 or Saturday, April 23, at Arsenal Hill, located at 1900 Lincoln Street in downtown Columbia. These shoes will be donated to Christ Central Ministries, which serves people in need throughout the Midlands. Each year, participants donate nearly 500 pairs of shoes.

For more information, call the Carolina Marathon Association at (803) 731-2100 or visit www.HeartAndSoleRun.com  or www.HeartAndSoleWalk.com  to register online.

Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler – Race Day Recap

Though the weather in Columbia was a bit soggy, we had a great crowd for the 14th annual Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler! More than 1,300 fabulous females from all across South Carolina and neighboring states registered to participate in this event that raises awareness about heart disease in women.

Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women's 5 Miler

Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women's 5 Miler

Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women's 5 Miler

The majority of women who participate in this event aren’t typical athletes. They’re women who may have been finishing a three- or five-mile walk or run for the first time. They may not have believed they could even accomplish such a goal. But they knew a women’s-only event like this one would give them the opportunity to try. And they also knew they would receive the kind of encouragement and support that comes from hundreds of women just like themselves.

Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women's 5 Miler

Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women's 5 Miler

Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women's 5 Miler

Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women's 5 Miler

11201622_1106206976072983_7484051933641649175_n

11150516_1106208479406166_3033500859379821786_n

11659_1106208356072845_1467842970874057918_n

After the event, Lexington Medical Center held a Health & Wellness Expo featuring health screenings, local vendors, a WIS-News 10 photo booth, and even massage therapists to help runners’ muscles relax and recover.

We applaud all participants for their accomplishments and hope their experience inspires them to make a lifetime of healthy choices!

LexMed Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler

The Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Five Miler is just over a week away, and this year’s event promises to be better than ever!

 

Need additional motivation to help you finish the last leg of your training plan? In addition to the event’s signature red rose, everyone who crosses the finish line will receive a beautiful custom-designed medal. Second, Edible Arrangements will provide this year’s post-race treat. Their delicious gourmet berries will make crossing the finish line even sweeter!

After the event, be sure to join Dawndy Mercer Plank and other WIS-News 10 personalities in Finlay Park at the Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Health & Wellness Expo featuring health screenings and local vendors. The event will have plenty of massage therapists on hand to help your muscles relax and recover after the event!

So come on out April 25 and be a part of this year’s event. Bring your mother, your sister and your girlfriends! We’re counting on you to call greater attention to the number one killer of women—heart disease. Whether you’re a longtime runner or a brand new walker on the road to a healthier life, we welcome you with arms wide open to an experience you’ll always remember!

Heart & Sole Training: Warm Ups, Cool Downs and Stretching

We have just under a month to go until the Lexington Medical Center Heart & Sole Women’s Five Miler, set for April 25 in downtown Columbia. This all-women event, with a 5-mile run, and 3- and 5-mile walks, celebrates the power of a healthy lifestyle and raises awareness about heart disease, the #1 killer of women.

Amanda Castles, personal trainer at Health Directions, Lexington Medical Center’s fitness and wellness gym, is your guide to getting ready for race day! In the video below, she talks about the importance of warm ups, cool downs and stretching.

 

Do you have a question about running or training for a race? Ask us in the comments section below! We’ll get your question to Amanda and she’ll be happy to answer it for you.

To register for the Heart & Sole, visit HeartAndSoleRun.com.