photo credit: pollyalida
This is a guest post by Lisa Shoreland.
When I was 11 years old I had one summer where I packed on about 50 pounds in about 3 months. My family took me to the doctor and they found that I had high cholesterol. This was brought on by an overconsumption of food, and the fact that I had inherited a trait called familial hypercholesterolemia. Like my grandmother and one aunt, my body fails to respond to any cholesterol lowering medication. Because of this, I’ve had to rely on diet and exercise to regulate my cholesterol. This has not been easy, as I am not a naturally athletic person. What follows is some advice to help regulate your weight and cholesterol based on this personal experience. I am not a medical doctor, and none of this is meant to be a replacement for professional advice.
Use Calorie Tracking Software to Determine Your Intake of Unhealthy Fats and Cholesterol
It always comes up in discussions with my dietician, “so, what’ve you been eating lately?”, and after I’ve left the office I realize how much I’d forgotten to mention. I’m not suggesting that you permanently keep a food diary, but using one for a month or two can help you to pinpoint trouble areas in your diet. For example, I have known for a long time that cheese was a no-no, but I continued to eat it anyways in what I’d felt was moderation. After a month of tracking my diet, I found I was eating it way too much. It wasn’t the low-fat cheese I ate at home that was hurting me, but what I was getting when eating out. Even if you aren’t interested in losing weight, diet tracking software can help you to identify and eliminate these bad habits.
Find and Use Suitable Replacements for High Cholesterol Ingredients
A big help here is to actually like cooking. Although it depends a bit on where you live, finding restaurants that serve low-fat, low-cholesterol alternatives alongside traditional meals can be tough. The best I can hope for where I live are egg beaters, and according to my dietician, I’m allowed to eat eggs. When you cook at home you have the advantage of controlling exactly what it is you put in your body. All the time I modify recipes I find into low-fat, low-cholesterol alternatives, and I find that the more practice I get with doing this, the better I am at making stuff that tastes just as good as something I’d buy at a restaurant anyways.
Avoid Fad Diets
Although weight is a factor in determining your overall health, it is not the only metric that determines it. I don’t know how many people I’ve met with cholesterol and weight issues, that have ignored the advice of their doctors and instead prescribed to some fad diet that ultimately hurts their health. There really is no secret to it, follow a doctor advised diet with a modest exercise routine and you will see results, even if those results take months to achieve.
Set Realistic Fitness Goals That are Focused on Improving Your Health
Like most of us, I have a busy schedule and my work environment is primarily sedentary. Probably the best shape I’ve ever been in has been when I’ve had more physically demanding jobs. Unfortunately, these jobs have never paid very well. I realize that I’m never going to run a marathon, and I sure don’t plan on ever getting to that point. Instead I choose to focus on regularly fitting in a modest amount of exercise. I walk, do light calisthenics, and play basketball with my brother. It doesn’t sound like much, but I’m consistent with it. At my worst I was 203 pounds with a triglyceride level in excess of 400 points. I was having chest pains all the time, had almost no energy, and just felt horrible in general. It took me about 6 months to reach my goals but I am now happy to say that my weight and cholesterol are both within reasonable levels and I feel great.