Betsy gets healthy, pt 1

Had an unanticipated visit with my doctor this week, after experiencing some funky symptoms last week that may have been signs of potential heart problems. (Was really really annoyed re. same, for reasons you’ll read about at the end of this post…)

The results?

  • Since May 14, my blood pressure went from 138/80 to 117/75
  • My resting heart rate was 76 72, down from 80
  • Passed the EKG with “flying colors”, according to my doctor
  • My blood sugars are back into ‘all normal’ ranges, as ongoing tests indicate
  • Finally, I’ve lost 18 lbs since mid-April

So the dizziness/lightheadedness that kicked in last week (and continues even today)? Nope, it’s not high blood pressure, or anything else related to my (formerly-unhealthy) lifestyle. Instead, it’s vertigo – or BPPV, as it’s listed on my Official Results Sheet (unofficial translation? I have rocks in my head..)

How am I doing this? I jokingly refer to it as my ‘clean living’ plan, which loosely looks something like this (caveat – this is what’s working for ME. YMMV):

  • No sugar or processed foods. (I shop at the farmer’s market/outside aisles of grocery store for my stuff, and am not even tempted at the kids’ stuff. Honest.)
  • Minimal, minimal dairy (greek yogurt), fruit and grains (steel-cut oatmeal 3X a week). Yes, this means no cheese or milk in my coffee. (And no, no soy products, either – I’m using coconut milk instead).
  • Plenty of vegetables, plenty of protein – from meats, nuts and eggs, mostly. (Nope, no beans either.) If it’s starting to sound like paleo to you, well, it’s pretty close – I’m calling it “modified paleo”.
  • Alcohol restricted to wine or vodka/soda only, and no more than 2-3 times a week. No mixers, add-ins, etc. No sodas or sweetened beverages (juices, even), plenty of water/herbal tea, iced coffee in the AM only.
  • “Good fats” allowed: olive oil, avocado, bacon, walnut oil, butter. No bad (trans-fat, etc.) allowed.
  • Exercise. Lots and lots of varied things to move more & get the blood pumping.

So – after making all of these changes (including 2.5 mile walks during my lunch hour 3X a week, for example), you can imagine how annoyed I was to think that I was giving up cheese (my biggest weakness) for naught. Not hardly, as it turns out…!

What else have I lost along the way? Well, that’ll be part of the next update…


  1. rock it, mama. i’m having to make a bunch of changes over here, too. stopped drinking alcohol entirely — will be 2 months on Friday, go, me. dropped 8 pounds already.

    plus we’re setting a good example for the kids, eh? send me notes if you need a rah-rah :)

  2. wait. i just re-read that — 18 pounds since mid-April? whoa!!! no wonder you’re all light-headed. i will tell you what I tell everyone — be sure the docs test your thyroid, too. full panels. signed, not a medical expert

  3. Betsy Richter

    Had what I thought was full panel in April, doc realized that didn’t include thyroid, potassium. Did both of those this AM, should get results in a day or two…

    Am set to go back in mid-August for full panel 4 months after original bloodwork done in mid-April. Will be interesting to see what’s changed…!

  4. JTK

    Damn if that doesn’t sound like the Primal Blueprint / Paleo / Perfect Health Diet people. Glad to hear things are moving in the right direction!

  5. Ellen

    That’s how I eat, too (I include a bit more dairy and skip the oatmeal) — I went Primal eighteen months ago, and never felt better. Lost 22 lbs. plus several chronic health conditions. And all by skipping the “heart-healthy” junk like wheat, juice and canola oil!

    Let me know if you’re interested in any blogs on this stuff — I have several favorites.

  6. I was going to say check that thyroid, too. When I started “getting healthy” I was so proud of myself for losing 25 pounds in 3 months–just from regular walks, right? Actually it was my Graves kicking in which explained a lot of other things like shakiness and temper tantrums and a bunch of other random, unpleasant nonsense. Not that that has anything to do with you but women always need regular thyroid checks. If you find out anything out of the ordinary, I am happy to share what I know.

    Interestingly, all my stuff kicked in a few months before Simon’s bar mitzvah and then I had a bad relapse right before Jonah’s. I plan to be in remission by time Tovah’s bat mitzvah comes around ;-) Let me know how I can help!

  7. Thanks, all for the support!

    Ellen – yes, please!

    Wacky Mommy & Melisa -don’t think it’s thyroid, but we’ll see – should get blood results soonish.

  8. Ellen

    On the whole, I lean toward the “Primal Blueprint” approach espoused by Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple. (He does advertise protein powders and supplements to make a living, but you can completely ignore that stuff and concentrate on the real food he writes about.)

    For folks getting started, he has a couple of guides that are must-reads:

    and a rundown on many of the other Paleo/Primal/low-carb stops online:

    Mark posts a lot, though, and I can’t keep up. :-)

    The only Primal/Paleo blog I read on a near-daily basis is Tom Naughton’s “Fat Head”: . He’s a comedian and the blog is named after his film (a documentary which is supposed to be quite good, though I haven’t seen it yet), but he’s absolutely brilliant in deconstructing idiocy among scientists and the media regarding diet and health, and he’s always entertaining.

    Naughton also has a reading list:

    A few other blogs and resources worth looking at early on:

    PrimalMedEd, — brand-new and I think I already have a crush on her! I especially love her articles “The Framework of Common Sense” and “Natural my a#%”.

    Evolutionary Psychiatry, — an MD discusses the biochemistry of diet and how it affects conditions like ADHD, epilepsy, depression, and many more.

    Gary Taubes, — the author of Good Calories, Bad Calories (among other hugely influential works) blogs occasionally.

    One of many posts summarizing the work of Denise Minger in debunking the China Study: .

    As you go through these, you’ll find links to other great sites and articles — which you go back to may depend on how you fit with the authors’ personalities, since as with other portions of the blogosphere starring outspoken, intelligent, opinionated people, you’ll click better with some than others. :)

    There are a number of food blogs and recipe collections for the Paleo/Primal crowd, and I’m still trying to decide which I like best. Here are some aggregators which make the exploratory process easier:

    Have fun, and let me know what you think!

  9. Betsy Richter

    Thanks, Ellen, for all of the information! I’ve already downloaded/worked through a bunch of Mark Sisson’s stuff, plus am listening to Robb Wolf’s podcast on my lunchtime walk across PDX’s bridges/up the esplanade.

    And for those worrying about my thyroid? It’s fine – just got my labs. In fact, *everything* is fine, lab-wise!

Surely you're not going to let me have the last word - are you?