Saturday, May 28, 2016

Transformations

I used to be very active and slim until I injured my back around 1990. Since that time, I’d become quite a slug and I put on a good amount of weight. In February 2015 I got health insurance, thanks to Obamacare. As an obligation to the health care provider, I was required to get an annual physical exam. I went to my local clinic for that. Blood tests showed good kidneys, good liver, good blood sugar. But very high cholesterol. Ack. I did NOT want to take any statins because of the increased risk to liver and blood sugar. So, I decided to start exercising, modify my diet (no bacon, no pepperoni, less butter), and lose some weight. I scheduled a cholesterol re-test for 4 months later.


I started slowly. My housemate has an exercise bicycle. I started using it daily. The first week, I cycled for 5 minutes a day. It was a shock to my system. The second week, I upped my time by one minute a day: 6, then 7, then 8, then 9, then 10. The third week, I stayed at 10 minutes a day. The fourth week, upping again by one minute to 15 minutes. Stayed at 15 minutes for another week, then incrementally upped to 20. Then I started increasing intensity. I started incorporating the occasional “sprint”. I’ve stayed at 20 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week. Sometimes I do a 30-minute bout.


I made minimal changes to my diet, trying to add more nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Really, I did not feel food deprived.


I lost weight and I felt much more like myself. At the re-test, my cholesterol levels were WORSE! I still did not want to take statins. I got re-tested again 4 months later (still exercising and losing weight), and the cholesterol was a bit better, but still not good. Here’s how I look at it: high cholesterol is only one of many risk factors for cardiovascular problems. I am slimmer (BMI = 23), I eat well, I exercise regularly, I don’t smoke. I can’t help the getting older part or the genetic predisposition to high cholesterol. I will not take statins.


So, I’ve transformed. And it’s stuck. I lost about 30 pounds and they have stayed off. I’ve become more active. And it’s stuck; I feel weird on the days when I don’t get some physical activity.


At this time of year, my main physical activity is gardening. My housemate has an enormous perennial garden. Over the years it had become seriously overgrown with grass and periwinkle, and a seriously aggressive spreading rose, and don’t get me started on those bloody spiderwort! Two years ago, I started reclaiming the garden. I have essentially had to dig up nearly everything, remove the bad plants, and re-plant the good plants – which provided me the opportunity to re-design the garden. It’s been rather like very slow choreography. The first year I was able to fix about ¼ of the garden. Last year, another ¼. This year I’ve made good progress. The garden has transformed. I am pleased. I like gardening and it’s great exercise.



My housemate has decided to downsize, so she’s putting her house up for sale. This means two things to me: 1) I will be moving, and 2) someone else will be enjoying the rejuvenated perennial garden. I’m ok with that.


More on the moving bit later.

4 comments:

  1. In addition to the cholesterol you ingest, your body makes it also. Same thing happened to my MIL. I think your body was shocked as you lost weight and it geared up to make up the losse you created with a diet change. Just my 2xents worth..

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    1. Hey Rita! And there's a typical fluctuation in levels regardless of diet or weight loss.

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  2. I'm glad you are viewing the cholesterol "issue" with a healthy mindset. Stay away from the statins, girl! And do a little research on cholesterol. They have been lowering the numbers for the "acceptable" levels for decades. I find that suspect. And really, if your cholesterol gets too low, you start to deal with other imbalances in your body, especially in mood. Which is why the majority of the cholesterol in your system is created by your body, in an attempt to keep your hormones, etc. balanced.
    Kudos on making changes that make you feel better!

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    1. Thanks Andrea. It's good to feel good.

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