Our #BOTSQUAD Fitness Challenge recruits were tasked to find a way to improve their diets this week. Nicole Tidwell shares some dietary changes she is making and some habits she’s trying to break in her latest blog. You can read about Nicole here.

Having surgery changes your body in ways you never expected!  There are things you are prepared for after a double mastectomy:  pain, weakness, nausea.  Then there are things you didn’t know needed to be on your radar.  For instance, I have been sleeping about 12 hours a day.  Body fatigue I would have understood more than this Rip Van Winkle style existence I’ve been living for the last four weeks.  And I’m off pain meds for the most part, so I can’t even blame it on that!  I probably CAN blame it on my Back on Track Mattress Overlay.  I never wake up sore or uncomfortable even after not moving all night!

One of the things that has happened that I didn’t consider was an increase in my blood pressure.  It totally makes sense when you think about it, but I had other things on my mind.   My parents both have high blood pressure, despite my dad being a marathon runner, so I have inherited a strong genetic predisposition to it (thanks Mom and Dad).  Up until now, my blood pressure had run between 120/80 and 130/90.  A little high, but not horrible.  At a doctor appointment two weeks ago, they took it and my blood pressure was 143/95.  I was a little surprised but not too worried – just motivated to do something about it!

My main source of exercise pre-surgery was riding and walking.  I will never win a fitness competition!  But that amount of activity had been enough to keep my high blood pressure in check.  Since surgery, I haven’t been able to ride at all, and although I’ve been really trying to walk as much as I can I need to do more.  Not much time for walking when you are sleeping on your Back on Track Mattress Overlay all day!

So my focus for controlling my blood pressure is now diet, since I can control that.  I have always tried to eat fairly healthy, but definitely indulged too!  I am also a vegetarian which can bring an added layer of difficulty to finding yummy, healthy meals.  Some of the changes I am making are:

  • I bring my lunch to work most of the time, and I try to bring leftovers or something I’ve made, but it is really easy to throw in a frozen dinner as my entrée. Don’t we all have those grab and go mornings?  Frozen dinners are notoriously high in sodium, so I’ve researched alternatives.  Amy’s and Lovu both have lower sodium options that I’ll now eat instead of the cheaper brands.  Can’t put a price tag on health, right?
  • When I buy canned goods, I buy whatever is on sale usually. I eat a fair amount of canned green beans, and a lot of black beans since I’m a vegetarian.  From now on I’m only buying low/no sodium.  I can’t tell a big difference with the black beans, but salted up green beans are definitely better.  Using other spices to “trick them up” has been fine and I’m sure my taste buds will adjust too.
  • Nearly every morning I eat an egg sandwich with a little salt and pepper. For the past two weeks, I’ve only done pepper, and since it’s a sandwich its been equally as good.  I have read that most of our sodium intake isn’t from the table salt shaker, but I figure if I don’t miss it, every little bit helps, right?
  • On nights I ride after work, I often drive through somewhere on the way home. It’s already late, I’m hungry, and want to shower and go to bed right ASAP.  Drive-thru vegetarian options are already super limited (grilled cheese, fries, etc) so finding vegetarian and low sodium seems like finding a Grand Prix horse for $3000.  I am going to start packing a dinner for myself so I’m not forced into a dinner of tater tots and ice cream… I mean there are worse things, but still.

None of this is ground breaking stuff.  I just have to tackle my problem of pre-hypertension through diet until I can use more strenuous exercise to help also.  It is mostly planning ahead for meals and snacks, and trying to cook at home and avoid processed foods when possible.  The planning doesn’t even take a ton of time, just more than I have been doing.  I am looking forward to monitoring my blood pressure and hopefully seeing changes for the better!

And if you know of that $3,000 Grand Prix horse, let me know.