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Huffing and Puffing: Episode 4: Endorsement

As published at News957.com:


'm a skipper, but I'm not a quitter.
I woke up tired on the third Saturday of the Lung Association of Nova Scotia's Learn To Run For Smokers program, stumbled outside for a cigarette and found the streets covered in snow. It rained and rained and rained, then snowed and snowed and snowed. The tire tracks on the road were swooping back and forth across the street. It looked bad. A phone call to my wife at work confirmed that the driving was terrible. I gave up, shoveled the driveway and went back to bed after emailing program coordinator Jayne Norrie to apologize for my non-attendance.
That could've been it. I could've given up for the week. But, a commitment's a commitment, and when it's my health at stake and I'm doing it all in public, I might as well follow through.
Monday morning, I joined Jordi Morgan for a half-hour interview on Maritime Morning. It was strange for me to be the subject of an interview rather than the one asking the questions, but it was a lot of fun getting to talk about the program and how I'm doing.
Tuesday was supposed to be the first of two days of homework outside of the regular group training sessions. Jayne sent the team an email: "The third week tends to be the hardest, so please persist with the program, and you will start to reap the benefits soon! It will be worth all the hard work and battling with the weather, especially when we finish with the Lung Run in April and you see how far you have come."
I'm definitely not a morning person, but this Tuesday meant I'd be covering Halifax Regional council from 1pm to 9pm, so exercising after work wouldn't be happening. So, I got suited up right out of bed and went for a 25-minute brisk walk through the neighbourhood. It was cold, but I got it done.
Wednesday morning found me downtown at the doctor's office to get the now-overdue medical clearance.
Dr. Maria Sampson is a wonderful woman who's been pushing me to cut my smoking and lose weight for some time. I went to her a while back with questions about some pain in my chest. She didn't say it was anything dangerous with my heart, though I have had flutters from time to time. But she was concerned about my blood pressure.
I've had high blood pressure readings for a number of years. In mid-2002, I have it recorded as 140/90. In May, 2005 it was 130/90. It's been as high as 146/100 in March, 2009.
The doctor put me on a beta blocker called Atenolol to reduce my BP, and it's worked rather well. Between that and my recent exercise, my BP read 120/84 this week. That's pretty well normal!
So, I explained the Learn To Run program to Dr. Sampson, gave her the forms, and asked whether this would be a good program for me.
"Yes! It will help your heart," said the doctor. "And there's often a close link between what you're doing for yourself to keep yourself healthy, so if you start exercising more regularly, often you feel like eating better, and when those things start happening, then you might also be interested in quitting smoking more whole-heartedly."

"You will probably notice an improvement in your endurance in day-to-day activities," she said. "Sometimes you're not as breathless as you would normally be. I'm hoping that you'll enjoy some of the psychological benefits of exercise. So, feeling more energized and maybe a little happier, and there would be a little bonus if you'd lose a little bit of weight with that."

Dr. Sampson says if the progress continues and I lose about 10 pounds, she might be able to get me off the beta blockers! 
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