British Heart Foundation – High blood pressure and heart disease

British Heart Foundation – High blood pressure and heart disease

My name is Ann Gerard.
I am 45 years old. I am a single mum of twins
that are 21. I live in Clayton Le Moors,
near Accrington. Five years ago, I was just short
of 16 stone at that point. My confidence was very low.
I actually felt very depressed. My dad was, like, in his early-70s, and I was a lot less fitter
than my dad, and it’s sort of like
that’s not the way it should be. He was keeping up with the children
whereas I wasn’t. About three years ago,
I was really quite poorly. I was getting up and going to work, but yet all I wanted to do
was sleep. I thought I had quite a healthy diet. I did have takeaways,
maybe a couple a week, but I wasn’t having
a takeaway every night. I went to doctor’s one Friday
with a really sick headache, and the lady doctor that I saw, she was really quite horrified
at how high my blood pressure was, because she said,
“You’re really on the brink “of having a heart attack
or a stroke.” I was a dead man walking
more or less. So then I thought, “Well,
let’s do something about this.” Each thing that I’ve done
is just a very small step. Eating healthier,
having a little bit more fruit, and then gradually
building up on the activity. I used to skip breakfast completely,
whereas now I do get up, and I give myself
an extra 15, 20 minutes to actually have a breakfast. Like, I’ll do a smoothie, put a yoghurt
and different type of fruits in there and a banana and a bit of milk. You’re having all that fruit,
and it’s actually quite filling. You think you can’t build up
any activity in at work. I used to park
really close to the door, and then just walk in
and get the lift. Whereas now I’ll park
right at the bottom of the car park, I’ll walk up the car park
and then walk up the stairs. And I find people
actually get in the lift, and I think,
“I’ll beat you up the stairs.” I get to the top,
and I’m not breathless. Before if the lift wasn’t working,
and I had to use the stairs, I couldn’t speak
for about 10 minutes, whereas now it doesn’t bother me. During the day, snack on fruit,
not going to the machine. I wasn’t having chocolate.
I wasn’t having crisps. I still have an odd coffee, but I could have had
10 or 12 cups of coffee in a day with loads of milk
and loads of sugar in there, so now I’m having these fruit teas, and I really do love them. Now I do cook things
a lot more healthier. I include a lot more veg in my meals. Cutting down on the meat content, and having a lot more of a balance
in the actual meal, rather than having
just pure meat and all the fat. But also the salt intake. I really tried
not to cook at all with salt, so when I was making something,
I’d use a spice, or use some sort of parsley or rosemary or thyme. In this dish,
I bulk it out with some barley, which is really quite filling. It fills and lasts in your stomach
for quite a while, so you don’t feel hungry afterwards, and it’s a nice winter dish, as well. As the weight started to come off,
and I seemed to have far more energy and I was sleeping better, then I started to think, “Let’s
get up and start moving a bit more,” and so I was starting
to walk slightly more. And then with my friend Germaine, we started to get up
and we started running together. We started off in the park. I think the whole park
is about a quarter of a mile. I couldn’t do a third of it.
It was just a little bit extreme. But we persevered, and gradually within six weeks,
we were running 5K. We’re not just running,
we’re having a chat, a catch-up, and we just enjoy
each other’s company. It’s nice. It just depends on what time
he finishes work… The cycling is pure pleasure. I don’t class it as an exercise,
or an activity. Now and then I’ve said to my son,
“Would you like to come out with me?” He’s come out
and we’ve ended up racing, and challenging each other
up the hills or down on the canal. I should have been doing this
when he was a lot younger. I feel like I’ve missed a lot. I feel like I was
20 years ago. I feel like I’ve missed
quite a lot of my life by being so big. I’ve lost 5.5 stone. I’ve been to my doctor, and my blood pressure
has dropped quite drastically. About 12 months ago, I went
in a shop, and I picked something up, and I thought, “I can fit that.” Then I suddenly realised
I was a size 12, and I was like a kid in a candy shop. You couldn’t keep me still. I was up and out, and I was trying
all sorts of things on. It did actually cost me a fortune
that day, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was really good. I’ve started going out more,
started to interact with people more. I have a lot bigger friend base
than I did. Now I’m thinking, “Well, what can
I do? What is there to do?” to the point whereby me and Germaine are looking maybe to do a skydive at some point this year. I’m 45, and before I felt
older than my dad at 45. Whereas now I’m thinking,
“I’ve got a good 30 to 40 years,” and I just feel so much healthier. I feel like the sky’s the limit. I was a dead man walking. The time has come
for me to take action. I was 17st 2lbs, and now I’m 12 stone, and I feel absolutely brilliant. Now I actually feel excited
for the future. You’re told that you have a disease that’s going to be with you
for the rest of your life. It was an absolute shock. I love my life now. There’s a future,
and I’m going to live it.

Comments (5)

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