Posted in hypertension, Modifiable Risk Factors, Physical Activity

Blacktivate Lesson 004: How to Reduce the “Pressure.”





Your “High 5” Ways
to Reduce High Blood Pressure.

Hey Hey Ya! It’s your guuurrrllll, Chris Omni, the Health Hippie, back once again to activate the health and wellbeing of Black women. It’s time to Blacktivate, ya!

This week, I am going to continue our conversation about high blood pressure by providing a list of 5 ways to control and/or reduce your risks. Are you ready?

1: Your Body Was Made to Move!

The Surgeon General recommends achieving 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity every week [1]. That may seem like a lot, so let me break it down. If you engage in physical activity for 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week, you will achieve your 150 minutes. Don’t be concerned if you can’t block off 30 minutes, you can break that down into three, 10-minute bouts of physical activity. Sounds a little more doable, huh? Just think of breakfast minutes, lunch minutes, and dinner minutes! You got this. Always remember to listen to your body!!

2: Watch That Sodium, Sistah Friend!

I promise, I couldn’t make this up if I tried! Did you know that there was a website entitled picklelicious? Yessssssssss! Lovin’ it!! I really do like pickles. Zesty are my favorite 🙂 Okay, where was I? Ohhh, that’s right, I was thinking about whether or not I was going to dig into scientific journals or give you facts from picklelicious.com. Pickles Win!

Pickles have one major drawback-sodium [2]. Now hear me when I say this, “pickles are not the only snacks that are high in sodium.” Take a trip to your cabinet and look at the food labels. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that our sodium intake not aexceed 2,300 milligrams per day. If you already have high blood pressure,make that no more than 1500 milligrams per day.

3: Drink in Moderation Not For Elevation!

Let me be the FIRST to say, “I loooooooove wine.” Give me a glass of Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, or anything dry and red and I’m in my happy place. However, I also know that excessive alcohol consumption will increase my risk of high blood pressure. The message here is to not get faded! No matter what your drink of choice is, learn to savor the experience and the taste not just the tilt.

You know I’m not about to move onto the next subject without discussing why.

Excess alcohol consumption is bad because of the sugar. Sadly, there is not a nutrition label on most bottles of wine and that leaves you unaware of how much you are truly consuming. There is a great article in the Washington Post that will break down some of the nutrition facts for you. [3] One last thing, keep in mind, wine isn’t the only food or beverage that has sugar. Be aware; check your labels.

4: Smoke Ribs Not Cigarettes… (make that corn on the cob for vegetarians!)

As a non-smoker, it seems simple enough to say, “Just STOP!” But, as a former employee wellness coordinator and wellness coach, I have worked with people who have struggled with this very subject. Please know that this blog isn’t about telling you what you should or should not do; I just want to help activate your health and wellbeing by boosting your knowledge about physical activity, chronic diseases, and various risk factors. One last nugget of information: Every time you smoke you are causing a temporary increase in your blood pressure [4]. Okay, I’ll move on…

5: Worry Less Live More

Nothing immediately activates “The Pressure” as much as stress. Writing about stress is even stressful, but providing stress management techniques is helpful. Enjoy this visual from Harvard University [5]. It truly speaks to what I would have personally recommended. “Unplug” and “Slow Down” are my go-to speeds!

Well Luvs, that is it for this week. Thank you for spending a little time with me and please tune in next Thursday (bring a friend) as I continue my mission of improving Black women’s health-related quality of life by activating their health and wellbeing.

High Fives, Hugs, and Hope!

Chris “The Health Hippie” Omni

References

  1. HHS Releases Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition (2018) US Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2018/11/12/hhs-releases-physical-activity-guidelines-americans-2nd-edition.html
  2. https://picklelicious.com/4-facts-about-pickles-and-weight-loss/
  3. Lehmann, C. (2014). Watching Your Sugar Intake? Toast to Dry Wine. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/watching-your-sugar-intake-toast-to-dry-wine/2014/04/22/b0ebf500-ba73-11e3-a397-6debf9e66e65_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.8d1e25ba2e47
  4. Smoking, High Blood Pressure and Your Health (2016). American Heart Association. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/changes-you-can-make-to-manage-high-blood-pressure/smoking-high-blood-pressure-and-your-health
  5. Seven Ways to Reduce Stress and Keep Blood Pressure Down. Harvard University Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/7-ways-to-keep-stress-and-blood-pressure-down
Posted in Uncategorized

Blacktivate Lesson 003: The Pressure. (A two-part series)

Did you know that hypertension is just another way of saying high blood pressure? Seems like basic knowledge to some, but to those who don’t know, this blog might shed a little light on the situation. High blood pressure is when the pressure of your blood against the arterial wall is high enough to cause damage to the artery itself or the organs. Wowwwzer, that is way to technical for where I want to go with this week’s blog. Let me break it down-Pickle Style!

Imagine trying to open your favorite jar of pickles. I don’t know about ya, but I love the Zesty kind. Yummmmmm! I digress; imagine trying to remove the lid from the jar but you just don’t have enough strength. But, you remember a few old school remedies: 1) tapping the bottom of the jar, 2) running the jar under some warm water, or 3) swirling it around in the air. After selecting your remedy of choice, the lid magically loosens and you get to enjoy your pickles. So what really happened in those few seconds of magic? Physics.

If you opted for old school remedy one, hitting the bottom of the jar, what occurred was the loosening of the contents and the piling of the contents on the lid. Just like that you heard a pop and all the internal pressure was released allowing you access to your pickles. This piling analogy is similar to the pressure of your blood against your arterial wall.

Time for a brief education pause:

Arteries are the blood vessels that deliver oxygen-rich blood from the heart to the tissues of the body. They are pretty important!

Fortunately, you will not hear an actual pop if your blood pressure gets too high. The most obvious reason why you won’t is because you are not a jar of pickles. (If I was a jar of pickles, I’d certainly be Zesty!) All joking aside, the more concerning reason why you won’t hear a pop is because high blood pressure is a “symptomless silent killer” [1].

To root all of this information in the foundation of Blacktivate, it is important to know that high blood pressure can contribute to stroke and diabetes. Sadly, these are three of the major chronic diseases that disproportionately impact the Black community. Black people are 60% more likely to be diabetic, 40% more likely to die from heart disease, and 30% more likely to die from a stroke.

Having high blood pressure is not a death sentence, but if it goes uncontrolled can ultimately become the death of you. You don’t want that. Your friends and family don’t want that. And, I certainly don’t want that either. If you see yourself in the gold, orange, or red zones [2], it is truly time to activate your health and wellbeing. Stay tuned for Part Two when I provide helpful tips to help lower your blood pressure and start that activation process.

Until next time, be well!

Chris “The Health Hippie” Omni

References:

  1. What are the Symptoms of High Blood Pressure? American Heart Association. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/why-high-blood-pressure-is-a-silent-killer/what-are-the-symptoms-of-high-blood-pressure
  2. Understanding Blood Pressure Readings. American Heart Association. Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings  \
Posted in Uncategorized

Blacktivate Lesson 001: Physical Activity and Aging

How many times have we, as Black women, heard the saying, “Black don’t crack?” I am 44-years old and people still think that my 23-year old daughter is my sister. “Thank you, I’ll take that!!!” Second question, how many of us have heard that exercise is the fountain of youth? I’m sure quite a few of us have heard that, but it still doesn’t seem to be enough to get us to engage in physical activity.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), overall, 27.5% of adults age 50 and greater reported no physical activity outside of work. Since I’m six years shy of this big nickel circle, I’m really interested in physical activity and aging. (Truth be told, I even started taking a Centrum Silver.) But, seriously, this statistic only increases with age, gender, and race. With this knowledge, it is time to bring this topic to the forefront and start educating my sisters. If you are ready for the journey, keep reading.

In that same research article, provided by the CDC, they reported that inactivity prevalence was significantly higher among women than men and among Hispanics and non-Hispanic Blacks compared to that of non-Hispanic Whites. Furthermore, Black women rank lowest among race and sex demographic groups to achieve recommended levels of physical activity (Joseph et al., 2015). Stay with me now…I’m curious. Could it be that we, as Black women, are relying on the fact that due to our melanin that movement really doesn’t matter?

Black women, just in case you haven’t heard it from anyone else, I’m here to tell you that, “MOVEMENT MATTERS!” I, your sister in health, have nearly 20 years of experience in health promotion and I have seen it work wonders in the lives of my clients and students. Most importantly, my Mama’s oncologist told me before she died, that her faith and her fitness enabled her to fight for 26 years! Yes indeedy, movement matters my melanin mamas!

Now, here is where I’m going to step on a few toes. As a former personal trainer and group exercise instructor, I can confidently say, “Move for the purity of movement!” I know that physical activity will lower your risk of certain chronic diseases. I know that physical activity will help to lower your weight. But, when you engage in physical activity for the sole purpose of achieving an “end” rather than enjoying the “journey” to that end, you miss the point.

Black women, we are a beautiful people with a beautiful story. And, we are fortunate to have won the genetic lottery where we don’t actually look our age. Since we are already winners, let’s win with wellness. Are YOU with me? If so, let’s activate our health and wellbeing. It’s time to…

Blacktivate!

Chris “The Health Hippie” Omni

Reference:

Joseph, RP, Ainsworth, BE, Keller, C., Dodgson, JE. Barriers to physical activity among African American women: An integrative review of the literature. Women Health. 2015; 1-21.