Birthday Surprise!

By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

Birthdays were always fun when I was a kid.  Once a year I could ask for a “bigger ticket” item.  As a kid, I wanted a banana seat bike with those high handlebars and streamers coming from the handlebar grips.   As a teen, it was a FM clock radio.  In my 20’s I wanted stirrup pants (a precursor to leggings, only uglier).  So now that you know how old I am, my birthday wish list looked a lot different this year.   I suggested sneakers, wrinkle cream that does not come from CVS and a Blood Pressure monitor.  Yes.  A Blood Pressure Monitor.  I am just as surprised as you are!

The story goes like this…I have my annual routine medical appointments every March around my birthday.  Appointment #1 discovered my BP was up pretty high.  I thought “white coat syndrome.”  I have had perfect BP readings my whole life.   I work out 5-7 days a week with a heart rate monitor to make sure I am doing my best.  I eat very healthy to the point where people tease me about it.  I have no stress.  I sleep well and track my sleep.  I am a health fanatic.  This is making no sense.   The next day I asked the nurse in my building to take my BP.   It was up even higher and pretty close to the danger zone.  I called my PCP and they asked me to come in immediately.  Off to Appointment #2 I go.  My “white coat syndrome” was off the charts by the time I got there and my BP was dangerously high—194/100.   Now the questions begin. “Do you have a headache?” “No.” “Are you under any stress?” “No.”   “Do you drink a lot of alcohol?”  “No- should I?” My doctor chuckled at that but the med student did not.  Oops! “Are you active?” “Yes – do you want to see my phone where I track all my workouts?”  “No- that’s OK I trust you.”  “Do you eat well?”  “Yes- you probably don’t want to see my food diary either, huh?”  “No- not really.”  By now, the doc and I are having a good time while we try to figure out the mystery.  “Does high blood pressure run in your family?” BINGO—we have a winner!  My father, my brothers—even my youngest son have high blood pressure.  Ahhhh that could be it.  “Anything else you notice?”  “Sometimes I wake up with bags of water under my eyes…my mother says it’s from too much wine, but I don’t drink wine much anymore—maybe I should?”   This was my second attempt to get his permission to add wine to my treatment plan!  He didn’t buy it.  “Or… it could be your kidneys.  We’ll run tests for that and vitamin deficiencies,” he said.  Then he told me he was putting me on BP meds.  Immediately.   The conversation that followed was basically me saying I didn’t want one with any side effects, thank you very much.  I counted off on my fingers: no fatigue, no weight gain, no foggy brain, no insomnia.  Doc agreed to give me one that may cause swollen ankles.  Ok- deal!   By this time, the medical student was writing furiously and his facial expression never changed.   I secretly hope he works on his bedside manner because he missed out on a good time!

So here I am blogging away for months about how to stay healthy, reduce stress, eat a balanced diet, challenge yourself to exercise and to be your best.  I missed a very important piece of overall wellness and health—KNOW your family history and make sure you make those yearly appointments!   If I had not kept to my yearly schedule, I would have gone on in blissful ignorance not knowing I had this symptom-free medical condition.  If you are already living your best healthy life, then do not forget those routine exams. If you are thinking about starting a healthy lifestyle – go for it, because for most people, a healthy lifestyle keeps diseases away or in control. At the very least, if you do face a medical condition, you will be ahead of the game because you won’t have to do all the things they tell you to do: eat healthier, lose weight, get active!   As for me, I will gratefully continue my lifestyle and be all the more thankful I chose it, because I think it may have kept me from a more serious medical situation.   I am also going to have a glass of wine.  I hear it’s good for the heart!

 

Eat Your Liver!

By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

If you have read any of my blogs over the past months, you know I have been dispensing wise words on how to attain or maintain a healthy lifestyle. A lifestyle I personally follow and love. It’s literally my job! Last month I left you with some news about my newly found high blood pressure and I was awaiting lab results. I have been as excited as you to hear the results! Good news, yay…no kidney issues causing the high blood pressure so Continue reading

Better or Best?

By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

Recently I watched a talk show about nutrition and how to eat healthier. The discussion was focused on the public’s confusion about healthy carbs. We need carbs for energy and nutrients. A no carb diet leads to fatigue and brain fog. I knew all that but what caught my attention was when the host asked if brown rice was better than white rice, the nutrition expert replied, “yes, it is ‘better than,’ but it is not the best choice, so why settle for better than?” To conclude this lesson on carbs (which this blog is not about!) brown rice Continue reading

Option B

By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

Recently I stumbled across a podcast series that intrigued me. Mind you, two years ago I had no idea what a podcast was. Well, flash forward two years, and guess what? It turns out most Podcasts are free. I was hooked almost immediately. As a Dateline and “ID Channel” addict, I quickly found every podcast on every true crime drama there was. I listened to hours of tragic stories until my kids told me that I only listen to Continue reading

Mount Hope

By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

There’s a bridge in Rhode Island that connects Portsmouth to Bristol where my son attended college. I don’t like bridges. I’d rather a tunnel any day. This bridge is the scariest bridge I have ever driven on. It barely has sides and its old, shaky, steep, very high and at least 4 miles long. Although my son says I exaggerate and it’s more like Continue reading

Don’t let the Holidays send you to the Junk yard!


By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

It’s very hard during the busy holidays to keep up a wellness routine. There are a million things going on and for most of us the first thing we give up is our commitment to ourselves. It’s unlikely many of us will be able to meet hefty wellness goals in the month of December but I suggest we should try to maintain as much as we can. Continue reading

Beat the Winter Blues


By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

This month I want to talk about something besides fitness and nutrition. Something that is very real to me—Seasonal Affective Disorder (alleged in my case). Yes, I am SAD! The summer is over and I am not happy! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the fall and the holidays and even a good snowstorm, but tell that to my mind. It disagrees. It just doesn’t spark as well as it does in the summer. I have to push harder to stay motivated. That’s key for me… finding a good routine and surrounding myself with happy personalities. Working with the folks we serve is a boost for my alleged Seasonal Affective Disorder, which by the way is self-diagnosed. Continue reading

Dispelling Food Myths


By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

If you are anything like me, you have tried all the short cuts to get to your ideal image of what you want to look like. You drank liters of Diet Pepsi, replaced solid foods with Slimfast, or bought into the Atkins Diet, eating all fats and no carbs. Despite your efforts, none of it seemed to work. Why? Because it’s unreasonable to think that eliminating an entire food group—or worse eating only from a specific food group—would be possible to maintain for life. Unless you are a dedicated vegan or diagnosed with celiac….you can enjoy all foods. But here are the important words….only in moderation. You are what you eat and the massive food industry Continue reading

Getting Started


By Kim Lowman
Wellness Program Manager

The number one question I get asked about wellness is, “how do I get started.” It’s daunting to read all the trends on this top and plow through all the information and options out there–from health clubs to studios to private trainers and outdoor meet-up clubs. My best answer is to this question is, “what is realistic for your lifestyle.” Let’s be real… if you hate to run as much as I do, then don’t choose that exercise regimen because you are not going to stick with it. There must be some activity you did as a kid or teenager that you liked; start there! Continue reading