A nurse’s fitness ‘aha’ moment

We're bringing back some of our favorite posts from the archives for #TBT. This post originally published in June 2011. Since then, Jackie has gone on to complete more triathlons than we can count, including an Ironman. 🙌

My fitness "aha!" moment was two years ago during nursing school.  I was sitting in the skills lab with my classmates, practicing taking each others' vital signs. I figured I'd always been a relatively healthy person.  Yes, I have a problem with binge eating but I always tried to balance that out with binge exercising.  I mean, if I drink and eat tons of pizza almost every night, endless amounts of flaming hot cheetos, buckets of fried chicken, and whatever else I have managed to wrap in bacon that week BUT still manage to do triathlons/runs/bike rides, then I'm all good, right?  WRONG!!  Turns out, that fateful day in skills lab was when I learned that there are consequences to my lifestyle choices.

Yes, that was the day I was slapped in the face by hypertension.  Not high-normal watch out you're pretty high up there but still ok blood-pressure. Not whoa, wake up, you're in the pre-hypertension range.  No, I was textbook Stage 1, verging on Stage 2, hypertensive.  My peers and instructors couldn't believe it.  I had four different people take my blood pressure to confirm it.

That was when I decided I needed to drastically change the way I lived, especially since I want to avoid all the problems that come with hypertension (go blind?  No thanks!).  Ok, actually the decision came about two weeks (months) later because I was still in denial and needed to keep taking my blood pressure everyday in lab to confirm it.  I wasn't ready to give up my nightly runs (drives) to the taco truck, SPAM, or ramen.

I'm never going to be ready to give it all up.  I love delicious, salty, artery-clogging goodies way too much.  I am a product of fast food and poor choices.  What gets me moving is that blasted blood pressure monitor sitting on my nightstand.  Yes, I often cheat on my low-sodium diet (I mean, who wouldn't?) and have endless excuses to not exercise, but at the end of the day, it's those two stupid numbers that I have to report to...and the list of long-term consequences of hypertension I have taped to the back of it.

6 thoughts on A nurse's fitness 'aha' moment

  • Great article, Jackie. I never knew you had hypertension, even though I was in nursing school with you. To look at Jackie, you would never know she wasn’t in the epitome of good health. That is what is so insidious about hypertension, and why it is often called “the silent killer.” If someone as young and vital as Jackie can have hypertension, anyone can! Just goes to show that we must check up on our appropriately-named “vital” signs fromt time to time, regardless of our age or how good we look from the outside. You never know really know what’s going on in your body unless you take a look under the hood once in a while, and evaluate your eating habits and lifestyle choices while you’re at it.

  • […] What you need to know about me is this, I was never overweight. I never had a revolutionary moment about not fitting into normal sizes that spurred me to workout and eat healthy. Sure, I’ve had my struggles with weight and body image. I was anorexic in my youth losing 2/3 of my bone mass before I was 16. I’ve also been advised that I wouldn’t get a job with a weight as “high” as mine and that my legs were too big to get work as a dancer. I’ve had my share of anxiety about fitting into skinny jeans but most of it is silly vanity and not life threatening. I’ve always been able to participate in sports and activities and shop in the Junior section (although at almost 30 some disapprove- but I’ll never let low rise jeans go out of fashion!) You may be thinking, how then can I be motivational at all? What could I possibly have to say? But let me tell you this – fitness and exercise saved me anyway. Perhaps you can relate? […]

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