What should I focus on?

I'm 34 and I have high blood pressure and cholesterol. It's genetic being that at the time of my diagnosis I was 185 at 6'1" and in very good shape with a clean diet. I starting taking the meds I was prescribed and weirdly lost my motivation to work out and eat right. You'd think I would have worked even harder. Both of my parents had stents in their forties and heart attacks in their early 50's.
I'm 30lbs heavier now and don't have the free time I did before to work out. I've been looking at body weight routines like Stew Smiths with lots of cardio to get back into it. I love to lift but I don't think squats and power cleans is what I should be doing. I guess my goal is over cardiovascular health with strength thrown in? Any advise or personal experiences is appreciated. Phone Post

Rippetoe released a fantastic article today on T-Nation regarding how EVERYONE should develop a decent level of strength before focusing on anything else, as this will have more overall benefit.

Here it is if you feel like checking it out:

That being said, if hitting the weights isn't going to get you motivated, then do some form of exercise that will motivate you. Whatever the hell it is.

Also, you're obviously overeating. Get your eating in check too.

As I was writing this, re-read your post. You said you love to lift. Definitely do that! Read Rippetoe's article.

tristar- thanks for the article it definitely changed my perspective. I was on the fence about implementing a weightlifting routine, thought for sure calisthenics and ungodly amounts of cardio was the only way to go. As far as routines go the article made it sound like doing cardio with strength training is detrimental to gaining strength. What's a safe combo if any . Ie 2 days of lifting with plenty of rest and 2 days of light cardio 40- 60 minutes. Also any other websites you recommend for developing a program. I'll look through TNation more when I have time. Phone Post

Good article thanks. Rippetoe is a smart guy

Personally, I think you could stick with strength training 3 times a week and fixing up your nutrition. You'll see some pretty amazing results in your body composition, and in your overall health by just doing this.

In terms of weight loss, its really going to come down what you're eating everyday. There's a million different approaches to this. I track what I eat everyday. I make sure to be pretty close to my set macros at the end of the day, and that works for me. Depends on what my goals are, but typically my protein and fat macros stay the same, and depending on my goal (weight gain, maintenance, or weight loss) I adjust my carb macro number. Easier to knock off like 50 grams of carbs on a daily basis and get the exact same weight loss I would get by doing 3 hours a week of boring ass cardio.

It may sound complicated but its actually really simple.

As for strength training routines go take a look at Rippetoes "Starting Strength". Great one to get you started. (I'm doing a lot of Rippetoe recommending, just to be clear, I'm not Rippetoe haha)

Google "stronglifts 5x5". Another great one to get you started.

There's a bunch out there. The two above are great options that'll both do the trick.

As for cardio, I think you will see amazing results by just fixing up your eating. If after a while you seem to have hit a sticking point (in terms of weight loss), even after adjusting your macros, then you can throw in some cardio.

Just to clear, cardio isn't bad for you. If you enjoy going outside to take a walk, or going for a bike ride, or whatever you like to do, then go for it. Just can't stand seeing people rely on cardio when they absolutely hate it to try and lose a few pounds. Then they just gain it back cause they have no idea how to eat.

This turned into a super long post, sorry bout that. Just my opinion, I'm sure you'll get a ton more.

Just keep it super basic for right now. Build some strength then you can start adding on extras. Best way to do it, in my opinion.

Being that this is a mma website, your cardio should come from hitting the bag at least. Phone Post

Define "very good shape" and "clean diet".

Salt intake? fast food/pizza/wings/etc? Beer/alcohol? Smoking? If you eat any processed food (chips, sodas, etc) there can be ungodly amounts of salt; our bodies maintain a certain balance of water and salt in the bloodstream, if you eat more salt you body tends to retain more water to maintain that balance (more fluid = increased blood pressure).

Familial tendencies suck, but address this stuff now, get off the meds (ideally you should change the lifestyle factors contributing to the hypertension and fix those so you don't need meds), and avoid the stents/heart attacks.

Whats your lifestyle like? Stress is a killer, if you walk around angry or high-strung all the time it can take decades off your life (leads to hypertension, then the angina/coronary artery disease/stents/heart attacks/heart failure stuff).

Diet/habits is most important (food, quit drinking/smoking, improve stress levels), then exercise (cardio is more important than weights, as far as blood pressure, but do both).

You need to lose weight; eat better, exercise to make your heart strong.

I'm an RN and regularly see patients in their 30's, 40's, and 50's hospitalized for totally preventable heart troubles because they didn't get their lifestyle/habits in check.

^ to clarify my late twenties were beer, wings, fast food, pizza etc. and not working out consistently. Turned 30 and cholesterol and Blood pressure started to climb. Changed my eating habits and worked out consistently 3-4 times a week. Diet consisted of oatmeal, Greek yogurt, and a poached egg for breakfast. A salad or wrap for lunch turkey or tuna, and dinner was fish or chicken with rice or soup. Lost 40 lbs, body fat was around 15% in line with my BMI. As far as being in shape I could run 4-5 miles at an 8:30 pace easily. Swim a mile, ride bike for 30 miles bang out 75 push-ups and 15 pull-ups. I don't know if that constitutes great shape but I'm not a crossfitter, I don't trane UFC :( I did do the work for 2 years and my doctor was astonished that I did what I said I would, and I still ended up needing the meds and I turned into a turd again. I really appreciate the input so far, I've been checking out the workouts mentioned in addition to checking other threads for info. Phone Post

and yes stress is a problem I'm wound pretty tight, I don't sleep well, I work too much, and I really have no idea how to relax. I tried meditation, but to no avail. Phone Post

There's no easy fix as far as "relaxing", but stress is easily as bad or worse than shitty diet/lifestyle (research suggests it will literally kill you to the tune of 10-20 years off your life).

What's your resting HR like? If you were in good shape and it was still 80 or 90 most of the time, you are way, way too stressed out (or you have a thyroid problem, or something).

Research and work on "relaxing" as aggressively as you would/did exercise and diet; if you didn't like whatever system of meditation you tried, do something else.

"Meditation" can be as easy as sitting down comfortably in a quiet room for 20 minutes each morning and breathing as slowly as you can; just breath in and out, focusing on filling your lungs to the absolute limit with air and then totally emptying them, both as slowly as possible. Think about peace or something and set a timer so you dont eyeball the clock, then just zone out. Very quickly your mind will be emptier and calmer.

If you really want to get crazy, try to be aggressively cheerful and happy with every single person you interact with throughout the day. If you fake being happy long enough, you will find yourself legitimately being more cheerful in time.

It's not as easy as saying "just relax and dont sweat stuff", it's lots of hard work to make a real change in your personality that will only happen after months of effort (just like getting in physical shape), but it will have a dramatic impact on how shitty the rest of your life might be.

If keeping up a solid exercise routine was or is difficult, just go for a 30-60 minute walk (outside, preferably in a park) most days of the week and try to breath deeply the whole time (will do the same thing).

sleep if HUGE, as well.

FIgure out a way to sleep 8 or more hours a night (go to bed at 9 or 10pm, if you can; ideally we would sleep much earlier in the evening and get up earlier), and a lot of this stuff will get easier.

Bottom line, if the diet/exercise ddidn't cut it by itself, do something else and come at it from another angle. I absolutely guarantee it will be worth it long term.

Do you like any sports? Finding a game that keeps you active (playing instead of exercising) can be pretty big as far as being happy, healthy, and free from stress.