I am still here. Those four words might surprise you, since the last blog post I wrote was in June, and now it’s September. I’ve been struggling with high blood pressure. I wrote a song. I’m writing a book. If you were here, I would ask you to take a walk with me, so that I could tell you all about it. So come. Put on your walking shoes. And let’s catch up.
I had a lot of health problems this summer. It started with headaches and general fatigue. I thought maybe I was struggling with the Texas heat, because I run every day, and I have this compulsion to run outside. So…I began decreasing the frequency and intensity of my runs. The headaches continued, and I thought I was struggling with dehydration. So…I began supplementing my water intake with electrolyte replacements. When that wasn’t enough to make the headaches go away, I cut out yoga.
Those of you who have followed my blog for a while know that I love yoga. There is something about going through those poses, and pushing my body further than I thought was possible, that just soothes my soul. I love how yoga teaches me to be in tune with the needs of my own body. But yoga makes me sweat. A lot. And since I thought I was struggling with dehydration, I had a choice to make. I could continue to run, or I could continue to do yoga. I chose running.
But cutting out yoga didn’t help. The headaches persisted, and began to grow in intensity. I noticed the headaches started when I exercised. After trying (and failing) to ignore them for most of the summer, I finally went to the doctor to try to determine what was wrong. I didn’t have much choice in the matter–one headache was so intense, I thought I might be having a stroke. And so, my husband took me to the emergency room.
My blood pressure was 220/106.
After multiple tests–EKG, X-rays, MRI, blood tests, CT scans–the doctors determined that I had an early onset of hereditary hypertension. Which just means that I have high blood pressure. And that you can’t outrun your genes. I fought the diagnosis, because with all of the exercise that I do, and with my focus on nutrition, it seemed impossible to me that I had high blood pressure. But with continually high readings of my blood pressure over the course of a month, there was no doubt that hypertension was definitely my problem. And I was thankful I didn’t have any underlying conditions like cancer or an aneurysm.
My new normal
And so, I have a new normal. Right now, I am on medication for high blood pressure. And I have had to modify my running to accommodate the headaches. Which are mostly better, but I still have to be careful. When I train, I try to keep my heart rate between 140 and 160. Which means that I end up walking. A lot. And it’s frustrating, because in some ways, I feel like I’m starting over as a runner. But I’ve received some good advice from my running friends. They’ve taught me to be thankful that I can run at all. And to focus on reaching a certain distance, rather than a fast pace.
I’m so thankful for the running community. They have encouraged me through a lot of dark days.
The last blog post I wrote was during my celebration for losing 50 pounds. The month of June was a flurry of activity while I did a series of 10 Facebook Live posts, as well as blog posts, about how I got my start. I thought I would hate making those videos, but it was actually fun. I spelled out Skinny Soul, using a different letter every day, and I talked about a different focus topic for each one. Collectively, those videos were watched by over seven thousand people–which is a first for me. If you haven’t watched those videos, you can check them out here. And don’t forget to like my FB page while you’re there. Just sayin’.
I WROTE A SONG
I wrote a song, and published it to Facebook on a whim. Thinking no one would see it, since I hardly ever do anything on Facebook. But that song has almost four thousand views. Which–I know that’s not exactly viral–but that’s a lot more views than the 10 or 15 I expected. You can check it out here. I’m planning to produce it (with an actual ukulele), with my daughter singing it. She has a much cooler voice than I do.
I AM WRITING A BOOK
The last major thing I have going on since June is that I am writing a book. I’m taking bits and pieces from some of my blog posts, because I’m talking about how to get started in a health and fitness journey. And making sure that you are mentally ready to be successful. Because for me, what I had going on in my brain and in my heart were the things that were holding me back every single time I had tried to lose weight in the past.
I have no idea what I’m going to do with it after I FINISH the book. I’ve never worked in publishing or public relations or public speaking…but I am passionate about healthy living. And I believe that most people struggle with a poor image of their own bodies. And I’ve decided that I have something to say. Something that will enrich the lives of the people who read it.
I’ve written the first four chapters. And I think they’re good. They are open and vulnerable, and they were difficult to write. But I’ve decided to crack my heart open, because I think some of my struggles may speak to the struggles of others. I am hoping that my mistakes will mean something if they can prevent someone else from making the same mistake.
So if I could leave you with any thought for today, it would be this: don’t be afraid to crack open your heart. Share your struggles with others. Show your vulnerabilities. Be real. Because in this messy thing we call life, we are all looking for authenticity. Many years ago, I struggled with depression for 378 dark days. And I felt like I was the only person in the world. I could see people walking around me–this mass of humanity–but those people didn’t have anything to do with me. Because I was separate. Because I was alone. But maybe if I had heard one true, honest story about another woman’s struggle with depression I would have felt like I had a hand to hold.
So please. Share your struggles. Be open and honest about your mistakes as well as your victories. And maybe–just maybe–that major hurdle in life you’ve overcome will become a beacon of hope to someone who has lost hope.