I’m coming up to the end of my OMRON 90-day heart health challenge and I feel wiser for the time.
If you’ve been following along with these blog posts, then you know that I have spent the past 90 days regularly monitoring my blood pressure using the OMRON Heart Guide device – click here to read my first post in this journey. The main concept of the challenge forced me to confront some important truths about myself and my health. As I disclosed, I was reluctant to even begin the challenge because I realized that life changes were sure to be necessary. Since then, I’ve realized that those changes were essential for more than just superficial reasons. A recent article about walking in the New York Times made me realize even further that these are practices to put into place at this stage in my life for the long term. That article revealed that exercise does more than just support our bodies in terms of physical capabilities, activity also supports our brain cells. If you are living a sedentary life, you’re also affecting your mental capabilities in terms of memory. Learning all of this makes me wonder — if my mother’s lifestyle had been different throughout her active years, would her memory capabilities be stronger at this stage of life? What can I do now to make sure that as I age, I remain whole in body and mind?
As I did more research into heart healthy lifestyles, I realized that I needed to focus on my diet. I wanted a healthy eating plan that puts heart health at the forefront. I’ve been reading a ton about the Mediterranean diet, which is based on the foods served in Greece, Italy, and Portugal, and is generally known as being a healthy diet with no strict restrictions. I’m always finding ways to bring Caribbean flavor to the table, so that gives me a delicious array of flavors to experiment with.
This whole experience led me to really research the best foods to improve my high blood pressure, in terms of lowering my problematic bottom number and improving my overall diet. So now, for dinner you’ll find me building my meals primarily around vegetables, beans, and whole grains (like brown rice and whole grain pasta). I eat a lot less red meat and very little pork. For dinner, I most typically make poultry — meaning ground turkey or chicken — and I try to eat fish at least once a week (I would like to get those numbers up). And in my research, I discovered that some popular foods that can help to lower your blood pressure include berries, dark chocolate and melon, all solid dessert options! It’s also recommended to increase your intake of leafy green vegetables, something I’m always trying to do.
Part of this change has led me to make different kinds of foods for breakfast, especially. Especially during the pandemic, I found myself turning to baking and consuming more sugar than before. Now I’m more likely to make something like oatmeal for breakfast, it fills me up for a longer time. I found a new healthy technique of making oatmeal that makes it even creamier and more delicious — check this out! Inspired by my friend Shameeka – who has made some major healthy lifestyle changes herself — I’m eating more veggies and salmon in general, and even considering salmon for breakfast as an option. My Twitter friend and favorite TikTok chef Bettina Makalintal inspires me to cook with more veggies than ever before. Breakfast might be oatmeal, or salmon, or some kind of veggie with eggs – eggplant, collard greens, anything is possible! And a typical meal on our dinner table involves air-fryer or oven-baked chicken, ground turkey in a variety of forms, and all kinds of shellfish and seafood, plus at least one hot veggie side, like Caribbean style cabbage, broccoli, or roasted cauliflower.
So far, my changes have been small but steady. And throughout, I’ve got my OMRON blood pressure monitors to help me make sure I’m on the right track.
Some of you have been following me on this journey and have even expressed interest in monitoring your blood pressure with an OMRON device of your own. I really love the support and consistency their app, Connect, gives me; it keeps me motivated. The ability to measure, store, and track your health trends over time is clutch. And it doesn’t just work with the OMRON HeartGuide, it’s for all of OMRON’s connected blood pressure devices. Click here to read more about compatibility with OMRON Connect and their wide array of blood pressure monitoring devices – maybe it works with the device you already own, or one at a price point you like.
If you have concerns about high blood pressure in your life, I recommend you talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about your readings. Invest in a quality home blood pressure gauge and do your best to track your trends over time so you’ll have statistical evidence to share along the way. Having knowledge and understanding of your health needs is a form of self-care and empowerment that I didn’t get until I grew up. This is a level of adulting at its most essential.
At the end of 90 days, I’ve come to a greater understanding of my blood pressure readings and the ways that my lifestyle has been impacting my heart health. And knowing better is leading me to do better.
I’m so grateful for this experience, and I honestly hope my transparency in this campaign motivates and inspires others to do the same. I know I’m not alone in the struggle, and my struggle will continue past these 90 days. I hope you join me and continue along this intentional path to heart health. Too many people in my community are dealing with hypertension and the potential side effects are too risky. It’s time to focus on ourselves, and what we need to do to improve our health. It’s time to focus on our self-care and wellbeing. We deserve the best. It’s time to pour back into ourselves.
This post was sponsored by OMRON but the health history and opinions are all my own.