Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Medical Update

My life is an open book. But like Alan Alda said, "In all things moderation. Including moderation."

So I'll give you enough details to see how far I've progressed in the past year. And yes, it will sound like I'm tooting my own horn. Because I am.

Last year I saw my doctor for yet another regular physical. Nothing major, but I always dread going to hear the same litany of "eat less, exercise more" along with the "high blood pressure, blah blah, blah." Well, last year it hit home a little harder than I expected. A combination of my running more the year or so prior and what I thought was a diet change resulted in the same lab results. High cholesterol. I just couldn't figure out how I could still have such high numbers when I was working my butt off out there on the roads running myself into the pavement.

Turns out I was an idiot for not seeing the obvious. And a genius for fooling myself into not seeing it. And perfectly normal for not wanting to face my fears. Sure, I'm afraid of bugs and snakes and beavers and what-not, but more than anything, I'm afraid of death. We all are to some degree, but it really spooks me when I think about my own end. So when the doctor gave me the bad news that my exercising wasn't cutting it and that I may need to go on medication for my cholesterol if I didn't make some changes, well, you can imagine the nightmares I had thinking about how I was going to keel over eating a greasy burger from the drive-thru.

And there's a ton of other factors too that went into me making changes. Kids, marriage, family, friends, and more. They all went into that proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Or in this case, my habit of eating shitty food day in and day out. Now that's not to say my wife cooks crappy food. She doesn't. In fact, she's a wonderful cook. Sometimes she's too good of a cook because I want to eat all the yummy treats she makes. But I will admit she is a bit lopsided in her meals. Vegetables are rarely seen. I know she doesn't like them and would rather have fruit. And that's fine. But it wasn't helping my poor choices for my other meals.

So my labs were in the crapper, my eating habits were right there next to them, and the only shining light was my exercising. I finally realized what I already knew. The key to weight loss and good health is diet AND exercise. Gah! So I started to change how I ate. Nothing major. Just skipping that extra breakfast burrito. Or skipping the fast food this week. Or eating that granola bar instead of that bar of chips. Or reading the labels to check fat content as well as calories. Or trying to eat more veggies for lunch and dinner. It was a hard process. It still is a hard process. But those baby steps helped. I still eat shitty foods. Just not as much as I used to. And when I do eat that crap, I try to minimize the damage by eating the healthiest crap I can.

What does this all boil down to? My lab results from this year. They're much better. So much better, I'm happy to crow them from the rooftops. So if you're out there wondering if you can make that diet change, if you can lower your cholesterol, if you can actually lose weight, keep reading. I'm just an average guy living an average life. The only thing helping me is the support of my friends and family and my own drive to live a better life. I've been where you are now. I know how hard and how daunting it can be. You see all those people out there that lost 25 pounds. Or 100 pounds. Or 300 pounds. Well I didn't. I lost just 5 pounds this year. Five pounds. Sounds easy, right? Well, it might be easy for you but for me it was hard. Every pound and every inch I lost this year fought me tooth and nail.

But don't focus on the weight. Don't focus on the diet. Don't focus on the exercise. Focus on a goal. Set a finish line for yourself. You can see here where I've been and where I want to go. So sit down and set a goal. Run a 5k faster. Eat an all vegetarian meal once a week. Lose 5 pounds. Swim 2 laps in the pool without stopping. Put it on paper. Tell your friends and family. Let them hold you accountable. My wife told me her resolutions for this year and I plan on helping her meet as many of them as I can. Will it take time away from my goals? Sure. But you know what, if I have to sacrifice one of my own goals so she can meet one of hers, that sounds like a great deal to me.

Okay, motivational speech is over. On with the number crunching.

Bilirubin = 1.6 (normal is 0.2 - 1.2)
Cholesterol = 217 (normal is 125 - 200)
Triglycerides = 199 (normal is <150)
HDL Cholesterol = 33 (normal is > or = to 40)
LDL Cholesterol = 144 (normal is 0 - 100)
Cholesterol/HDL Ratio = 6.6 (normal is 0 - 5.0)

Bilirubin = 1.2 (normal is 0.2 - 1.2)
Cholesterol = 191 (normal is 125 - 200)
Triglycerides = 114 (normal is <150)
HDL Cholesterol = 41 (normal is > or = to 40)
LDL Cholesterol = 127 (normal is 0 - 100)
Cholesterol/HDL Ratio = 4.7 (normal is 0 - 5.0)

Net Change
Bilirubin = dropped 0.4 (now in normal range)
Cholesterol = dropped 26 (now in normal range)
Triglycerides = dropped 85 (now in normal range)
HDL Cholesterol = increased 8 (now in normal range)
LDL Cholesterol = dropped 17 (still outside of normal range)
Cholesterol/HDL Ratio = dropped 1.9 (now in normal range)

How did I do this? By running. By trying to eat better (but not always succeeding). I was on and off various dietary supplements but nothing that seemed to really help. However, I am currently taking Mega Red in an attempt to drop my numbers even more!

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