Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Lifestyle Changes after High Cholesterol Test

Middle Age has hit after my first blood test with high cholesterol levels. My total was 239, forty over the healthy upper limit of 199.  While my good HDL cholesterol was within the normal range at 50, my bad LDL was at 168 instead of under 99.

Since I aggravated my hip injury last summer and then sprained my thumb in January, I have become a couch potato and let my weight climb up to 196 pounds.  At 6'2", this is just crossing over the line into the overweight category (25+) on the Body Mass Index.

My doctor suggested 45 minutes of exercise, six days a week so I have started walking after work on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday with trips to the gym to lift weights on Monday and Thursday. Friday is my off day.

Of course, my doctor also recommend changes to my diet.

Snacks - I have cut out all candy and sodas while at work. I now drink only water and the occasional black tea with honey if I need a caffeine boost.

Breakfast - Instead of just eating a chocolaty-nutty breakfast bar at home or the occasional breakfast sandwich with hash browns from a fast food joint, I now eat two pieces of whole grain toast with a spread of almond butter (roasted almonds and salt only.)

Lunch - My lunch is almost the same since I have been eating homemade salads with a side of lentils everyday for the last few years.  The only change is my wife has greatly reduced the amount of Feta Cheese in my lentils to just a sprinkle and switched the Gorgonzola cheese in my salad to sunflower seeds instead. (The seeds are awesome and I should have had them earlier!)

Dinner - My biggest difference has come at night, I have stopped the 2 to 3 nights a week where I stopped for a burrito or fast food on my way home from work and instead I have been snacking on chips and salsa with my wife's home-made guacamole or a handfuls of nuts. I have also cut back on the nightly sweets, limiting myself to one small dark chocolate peanut butter cup from Trader Joe's a few nights a week.

I have tried to eliminate preserved meats, like bacon or cold cuts and I have severely limited the amount of red meat I have been eating, substituting with chicken or turkey instead.

Weekends - Saturday is my cheat day and I still eat like I used to except that I only allow myself red meat every other weekend. On Sundays, we now eat Oatmeal for breakfast with nuts and berries instead of going out for Brunch. I still eat like I used to for the rest of the day but I try to pick the healthier option if there are several items I enjoy on a menu.

I am planning on having my Cholesterol levels checked again after three months of changing my lifestyle.

5/3/19 Update: After 7 weeks my weight has dropped down to 178 lbs. so I have been losing about 2 pounds a week.

6/27/19 Update: I have maintained my eating and exercise habits and my weight has stabilized between 175 and 180 which is perfect. I start to look too skinny if I drop toward 170. I will be taking a second cholesterol test in July to see how I have been doing.

7/17/19 Update: Good News! I received the results of my recent Cholesterol Test and they were much improved in only 4 months. While still over the healthy upper limit of 199, my overall Cholesterol fell from 239 to 208, a drop of 31. While my good HDL levels stayed the same, the bad LDL fell from 168 to 129, a drop of 39. My doctor was pleased and said I don't need to take another test until next year. I am going to continue my healthy eating and exercise and hopefully I will reach my goal on my next test.