Since last May, I've been trying to change my diet and activity habits to reduce some bad-trending numbers in my health assessment. Cholesterol and blood sugars, mostly. Yesterday I had a fasting blood draw to check the cholesterol levels. Today I got the results: My good cholesterol (HDL) dropped 2 points, 51 to 49 (both within 1 point of the "50 or higher" desired level). My total cholesterol dropped 41 points. My Triglycerides dropped 46 points. My bad cholesterol (LDL) dropped 29 points. The cholesterol/HDL ratio dropped from 5.3 to 4.6. The Total, Triglycerides, Bad, and ratio are all still higher than desirable. But if I lower them as much in the next 6 months as I have in the past 6 months, they'll all be down in the Normal range.
I was really anxious about this blood test. I have been working hard but I was thinking, please please oh PLEASE, let me lower the bad ones by 5 points! Just 5 points! On my more optimistic days I thought maybe I could make that 10 points. So today's results have got me OVER THE MOON! OVER THE MOON CARL!!! (I don't watch The Walking Dead so I really don't have the ticket to use that meme but I felt like it, so there.)
What have I done to get here? Changed my diet, mostly. I mean, that's almost entirely it. I have reduced my beef consumption, bacon consumption and cheese consumption by like, 85 - 90%. What meat I do use, is more of an accent or a garnish. I have fish (cod, pollack, frozen; tuna, salmon, canned), chicken, rarely pork. Once in a great while I go crazy and go to Village Inn and have Pigs in Blankets LOL. Woo hoo do I know how to live, or what??? I've increased the proportion of fresh or frozen or canned vegetables and fruits I eat per day. Like, I've doubled that. I've reduced by about half the amount of bread I eat (which really kills me, but since I make my own, eating less of it per day means I have to bake less often, so there's that). I TRY to either ignore dessert cravings or have a pear or apple or some canned fruit - that's really hard as I have a giant sweet tooth.
In fact, I buy almost no processed foods, I make most of my meals from scratch using fresh, frozen or canned straight stuff. I like my cooking better than Corporate America's. And with my adjusted plate I know I'm eating a well balanced diet. My problem is, I eat too much of that wonderfully healthy food. And my main problem is after dinner - after nightfall. When I'm sitting here watching a DVD or Netflix, knitting, or playing solitaire...it's almost irresistible to go out there and graze. And I'm an experienced cook & baker so it doesn't take long to create something Bad in a very short time (cookie dough, anyone?). I've been working on that for some time now, and I have to say I have failed often enough to start considering the drastic measure of installing a chain gate with a sign: No Admittance After 8 p.m.). I have the hardware. It could be up in like, 20 minutes. But the idea is so humiliating that maybe, just maybe, I can threaten myself with it into behaving myself, late-night-snack-wise.
So keeping with the diet methods I've had is the first component of my plan going forward.
The second part is staying out of the damned kitchen after 8 p.m.
The third part is exercise. That, I told my health coach, is the Piece of the Puzzle I haven't been Pounding in Place. (That was earlier today on our monthly phone visit, right after I'd eyeballed these wonderful new numbers. I was a little giddy.) So we arrived at a goal - a realistic and achievable goal - for my exercise from today on: one hour aerobic per week, and 3 times per week strength training. I mean really, that's pretty minimal. I should have no trouble doing that. Yet it's BEEN my goal for like 6 months. I haven't DONE it yet. So now I'm hoping my curiosity will be an additional incentive: My health numbers have improved so much, just changing my diet, how much better will they get if I add in the exercise?
Oh, I haven't yet mentioned my BMI. It's horrible. It's in the LOOKOUT YOU'RE GOING TO DIE OF FAT range. It's identical to what it was in May (this was not a surprise). I'll be very interested to see if staying out of the kitchen after dark and exercising every day will have a beneficial effect on my weight, too. Whaddya wanna bet? Likewise, the blood glucose levels, which didn't get measured in yesterday's test. They were "borderline" last time; I am even more concerned about those than I was about cholesterol, I mean I am flat-out fucking terrified of diabetes. But I am confident that if I follow this plan of mine, my blood glucose levels will revert to normal, too.
I mean to behave.