Fatima Mazibuko is 67 years old and suffers from high blood pressure. She neglected her health for years, not caring what she ate nor making an effort to exercise. She believed changing her ways was too difficult.
“I couldn’t find the strength in me to change my addiction to poor diet, because I enjoy the taste of salt and fried meat – especially pork. I felt I was too old, and did not know I was actually harming my health. I honestly never cared what I put in my mouth, as long as I was full and satisfied. Since I can remember I was one of those people who love putting extra salt on food for taste,” Mazibuko said.
After Mazibuko was diagnosed with high blood pressure and put on treatment, she thought the medication would help her fight her craving for unhealthy food. But it did not.
“A few months ago I started experiencing severe headaches, chest pains and dizziness and problems with blurry vision. A healthcare worker advised me to change my lifestyle because if I didn’t I would have serious complications like having a heart attack, stroke or even losing my life,” Mazibuko said.
And so she made a decision to clean up her lifestyle. She decided to combine her medication with a healthy lifestyle – choosing healthy foods, exercising and adhering to her medicine exactly as prescribed by her health worker.
Exercising is important to keep our bodies fit and healthy for all people, but especially those living with chronic illness. The exercise doesn’t have to be every day, but at least 30 minutes three to four times a week will help the body to stay fit and fight illnesses.
“Changing my poor health diet has never been easy. There were days when I wanted to give up, as for years I hid behind my food. I always thought I was too old to exercise but now I made jogging, eating healthy food and walking my grandson to school all part of my everyday lifestyle and I am happy to do so.”
Mazibuko tackled her new resolve in many ways. She made a small vegetable patch in her backyard at home and now eats fresh produce from her own garden. “I am not the only one benefiting. My three kind neighbours are benefiting as well,” Mazibuko said.
She has also topped using salt and cooking with oil. “Now my feet have stop swelling and those headaches have become the thing of the past,” she said.
Zanele Zwane, a professional nurse explained that a healthy lifestyle means eating different type of food from different food groups in correct portions, drinking enough water and exercising. She said people needed to eat a combination of proteins, vegetables and fruit, starches, dairy, minimal sugar and fats.
“Exercising is important to keep our bodies fit and healthy for all people, but especially those living with chronic illness. The exercise doesn’t have to be every day, but at least 30 minutes three to four times a week will help the body to stay fit and fight illnesses. Exercising makes the heart and lungs stronger and lowers blood pressure. Getting the right amount of exercise can increase your energy and even helps to improve your mood,” said Zwane.
Mazibuko said “Because of the history of high blood pressure in my family, I am trying to show my four children that you can prevent health complications with a healthy lifestyle. And you can still live a full life with high blood pressure.”
Smiling broadly, Mazibuko said: “Changing my lifestyle has not only benefited me, but the people close to me, young and old, are motivated to live a healthy lifestyle. They see me as healthy now, with a positive mindset.”