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There has been some recent studies that show that there is a link between waist measurement, hypertension and diabetes. The larger your waist 40 inches or over for men the more likely you are to have hypertension and pre-diabetes if not diabetes. From a health professionals, Ed's observation this is not hard to believe. I fit this picture with waist measurement, hypertension and pre-diabetes. My thoughts about this personally is that the medical issues that I have may be related to being treated with medications initially for my hypertension. I was diagnosed with hypertension about 15 years ago. I had my annual visit to my doctor readings in the office were elevated per the nurse and the doctor confirmed the reading and I was started on medications. If you have ever taken medications for your blood pressure they make you feel really bad. A week prior to all this I was running, lifting weights. tournament bass fishing and continued to work on an inpatient psychiatric unit. Two weeks later back at the doctor as I recall., blood pressure responding to medications. Medications changed due to side effects or told to give the medication some time to adjust. This happened over years it seemed. I have not ran 5 miles since being treated, just last year returned to tournament fishing and at this point am 260 or so pounds. I am not sure that I had hypertension at that point. I do know that I weigh 90 more pounds than when I started, I am pre-diadetic by definition, having a fasting glucose greater than 120 on occasion and I have elevated cholesterol. I have a new doctor at this point the old doctor retired. With a goal of getting back to less than 200 pounds and being active. i am not trying to run 5 miles just be reasonably active. I also have had pain in all of my joints from the waist down. I assumed this was aging, shoes, extra walking at work, standing on the front of my boat. All sort of things. I am not a complainer and never mentioned it to the new doctor. Just take Tylenol and go to sleep. I forgot to have my cholesterol medication refilled. Out for 4 days and my joints stopped hurting. I related this to my new shoes. Got my refill and my joints started back to hurting. I will see my doctor in a few weeks. I have stopped the cholesterol medications upped my fish oil, flax seed and oatmeal intake and will have my labs checked prior to my doctor visit to see where I am with my Cholesterol. I guess the point of all this is that in a rush to fix my blood pressure I some how got to have obesity and a host of other issues. Did I actually ever have hypertension I will never know. Was it situational related to stress at home and work. We have three daughters there were certain times of the month that things could be real stress full for the lone male in the house. If you do anything with this write down any concerns you have regardless of how small and share these with your doctor. Two years of having pain in my joints, and fifteen years of obesity have cost. My blood pressure is well controlled and my medication is being decreased by a cardiologist that I work with. Saw the cardiologist because I was invited to go to Europe with some younger friends and wanted to know if he recommended the deluxe medical evacuation insurance for me. I passed the stress test, did have a concerning EKG after 2 weeks in Costa Rica that resolved when the good coffee ran out.



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By retiring to CR, my weight is now normal (lost about 70 pounds), no more antidepressants (after 20 years on two meds), My cholesterol is no longer an issue (also after 20 years on two meds). I didn't need to try hard to pull this off. Life here just made it happen. I think I actually drink more here, but due to the lifestyle (food and exercise) I have turned my health around.


The north american lifestyle and workstyle have become a cause of illness. People were not meant to work or eat the way they do now (at least in the US).


In my case, "metabolic syndrom" was cured by getting off the hamster wheel and retiring to CR as otherwise I would have been working for at least another 10 years if I/we had stayed in the US.


For what it's worth...



Edited by jjlen53
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I was spending some time waiting at Hospital Mexico yesterday, watching people. I noticed how many really obese people are running around there, and most especially I noticed how many doctors are overweight. Do you think this can all be attributed to the American diet? I don't think so.


Also, I was recently in the emergency room where I saw what I believe to be my first 600-pounder! He was a Tico and I doubt he gained that much weight from eating fast food. I think it would have had to be a life-long endeavor to gain that much weight, and I don't think the American diet has been around here that long. Just my opinion. There was also a Chinese lady there who had a Chinese restaurant, and she weighed about 350 pounds or more. (My estimate.)


As for the Tico diet, which consists of a lot of carbs and sugars (fruits), I would weight a lot more if I were to eat that way. Carbs do it to me big time! Everyone's metabolism is different, and to say the Tico high-starch diet is better is not necessarily true. Nothing like a nice casado with beans, rice and French fries to send me back to bed with no energy for the rest of the day. I get oooohhhhhh sooooo weary.


So what do I eat? Meat, cheese, eggs, and most vegetables. I have lost 30 pounds since I got here, and would weigh a lot less if I could get off the bread cycle! Hard to do ...


I think everyone needs to find their perfect diet and stick to it. No one diet is better or worse for everyone.


Forgot to mention I have no cholesterol, blood sugar or hypertension problems. And I never had these problems in the U.S. either. The only meds I take are necessary for my rheumatoid arthritis, which also dictates and high-protein low-carb diet. Lucky for me!

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Let me add this to the broth of this topic and hope that an extra cook won't spoil the soup . . .


Anytime I would visit CR during the thirty years between 1976 and 2006 I would lose weight from walking most everywhere -combined I am sure with the slightly reduced oxygen levels of San José compared to sea-level in Tampa, FL. The most I ever lost was in 1991 when I spent a month in SJ and wound up losing twenty pounds!


I once asked a tica what bus to take to get to somewhere about ten blocks away in downtown SJ and she told me, "There is no bus; we all walk." So, Costa Rica is definitely a 'walking place'.


I would have also to admit that I never really changed my diet when I visited CR, but I tended to eat only two meals per day back then: breakfast and a late lunch or early dinner.


Costa Rica is still a 'walking place' but now, over the last five years while I have been retired, have my CR residency and have been able to stay in CR for extended periods (in Alajuela) I have developed hip problems and cannot walk more than about two blocks at a stretch, then have to sit down for a while. I am fortunate to be able to be able to afford taxis around town to run my errands (the where I should be able to walk!), but riding everywhere does nothing to help me lose weight like I did before when I could walk everywhere. In fact, I must say that in CR I always enjoyed walking everywhere; there was so much to see that one misses zooming past in buses or cars.


I'll also add that I am not diabetic and only take medications for my BP, for the hip pain, plus warfarin. And the BP medication would likely not be needed if I could get my weight back down closer to normal.


I'm in presently in the process of researching having a hip re-paving and if that is successful I'll look forward to walking in CR once again. I'm sure that will help me lose weight. Actually I still lose a little weight when I am in CR, but it is minimal (compared to previously) for the three months I stay: about eight to ten pounds. I find that when I return to Florida it is almost impossible to not gain it back. I ascribe that to the kinds of food that are available in the two countries.




Paul M.


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"I forgot to have my cholesterol medication refilled. Out for 4 days and my joints stopped hurting."


This is a known side-effect of statins, altho not much noticed for the very reasons you state - patients don't think to mention it, and doctors don't always ask. A friend suffered w/ joint pain for over a decade before her Costa Rican doctor asked about it and connected the dots. DEFINITELY helps to look it up yourself, then talk to your doctor about changing meds.

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In the US I had to be pretty vigilant to maintain a healthy weight. Gained 60lbs living in Seattle (never-ending darkness and rain will do that), lost it through healthier eating and running. To maintain, I ran 3 or 4x per week, between 2 and 3 miles. I avoided carbs/fats: almost no bread or rice, minimal cheese, absolutely no butter, margarine, sour cream, mayo, salad dressings, etc. Absolutely no fried foods, junk food, fast food. No meat, other than fish/seafood. Skim milk only. Olive oil only. Never drank sodas or sugared drinks, lots of water. Avoided trans fats and high fructose corn syrup.


In Costa Rica, I eat tons of bread, rice, cheese, I actually use butter (not a whole lot, but I use it and in cooking too), and occasionally indulge in fried (twice!) patacones or yuca, and even eat ice cream sometimes here. I eat a lot! Of course, lots of veggies and fruits, and beans. Lots of beans. I occasionally eat chicken here, but not in the states.


In spite of the difference in quantity of food and in the level of carbs/fats, I lost 10 MORE pounds here in CR (on top of the previous 60), which wasn't a healthy weight. I was actually on the verge of seeing a doctor, as I'd never in my life lost weight without trying, WHILE eating more than ever. I've slowly gained back 5 of those 10 pounds, but seem to be stalled there. Even before my move, I'd lose weight on my visits, despite eating much more.


Yes, I walk more here (no car), but hello, I was doing 3 mile runs in the states! Also, I broke my toe here, and had 2 months with practically no walking. Still no weight gain. What the hell, right?


I attribute the extreme and undeniable difference to not eating processed foods here, other than cereal. It's made me think about what's in the US food supply --- and I think I ate a healthier diet in the US than the average estadounidense to begin with. The processed foods I did eat were "the healthy kind" (I used to tell myself), from Trader Joe's or PCC. To me, that's even more scary, seeing this blatant difference when I thought I WAS eating healthy in the states.


Anyway, I feel like a walking guinea pig experiment showing the effects of the 2 diets, and it still amazes me. Scary.


(That said, everyone is different ... mi esposo eats the same diet (except he has lunch at a friend's soda on work days, casados), and he is frustrated at being heavier than he would like to be. So, I'm not saying that eating in CR is some magic cure, just relating my experience.)

Edited by stewart.tb
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