Oh my heart
Just as spring and the warm weather are starting to rev up so too is life. Funny how that happens.
But I’m here today to talk about the fun adult topic of cholesterol. That’s right kids, when you hit 30 (or for some this issue starts happening earlier), the body starts going downhill in so many countless ways.
Back in….oh I don’t even know anymore I started noticing (as did my doctor) that my cholesterol number (numbers?) was going up. Slowly but surly each year it would climb just a few points. Until I hit the no no level of 200. In the US, the optimal number is anything 180 or below (but not too below because that’s not good either apparently).
As we all know, cholesterol can lead to heart disease, stroke, death, blah, blah, blah. So my lovely doctor told me to exercise and stop eating anything fatty.
This translated into: get your ass exercising at least three times a week and stop consuming so much damn cheese and pastries. (At least that’s how my brain translated it.)
I began my new path towards a tasteless, less cheese life well over six months ago, but then the holidays came along and I slipped. I slipped a lot. When I got retested back in March, the number had inched up even more.
My body is a jerk, I know.
Did I go on meds you’re wondering? Nope. Not just yet. My family doesn’t have any history of heart disease (that I know of). Just good ol’ cancer and as far as we can tell for now, cholesterol isn’t causing cancer. Maybe. Ok it probably is in some way. But point is, no known family history of heart disease so I’m having to up the exercise and quit eating so much cheese and pastries.
Because my body hates all things wonderful and good and can’t seem to find a way to process it without trying to kill me.
Anyone who knows me, knows I LOVE cheese. And pastries. If I could live off of them and have zero health consequences, I would. Unfortunately this is the real world where unicorns and magical cholesterol-lowering pixie dust does not in fact occur in nature.
You’re probably wondering what I’ve been doing since March to try and lower the numbers again. Or you’ve gotten so bored since you are 22 (I don’t know why any 22 year old would be reading my blog) and think this will never happen to you. Ha! Maybe not, but something else will.
I’m not a positive thinker like that. But here’s a fun list of what I have been up to:
- I’ve stopped consuming very fatty cheeses such as all the good cheeses you can think of. Instead I’ve replaced them with about a tablespoon or less of feta if I’m making a salad, for example. Usually the very white cheeses, like feta and cottage cheese, are lower in fat (but they still have fat so you can’t really eat them all the time).
- Instead of real-ish cheese for sandwiches, I’ve switched to Go Veggie* slices which have a lot less fat in them as well. I randomly found them at Whole Foods looking in the vegan section (thank the damn heavens for those vegans because they are helping me lower my cholesterol – I think). I figured why not try them? On their own, they are no substitute for real, cheddar cheese. BUT in a sandwich? You really can’t tell the difference. At least I can’t.
- If I want to eat something like mayonnaise (also in sandwiches or making it with tuna), I’ve started using a non-egg based mayo, like Earth Balance’s mayo.* Again, not the best taste, but it does the trick when mixed with other things. You get used to it.
- Non-fat yogurt is my best friend. This item of food has become quite handy for calming my cheese cravings. I actually don’t eat that much of it, maybe a little over a 1/4 of a cup. I add fresh fruit to french vanilla non-fat yogurt and it’s quite tasty.
- I’ve upped my vegetable and fruit intake and really lowered my red meat intake (I don’t eat that much red meat to begin with – maybe once a week). I haven’t cut red meat out all together (I had a burger this past Sunday), but I’ll go stretches without eating it. Instead I’ll eat chicken (I still can’t stand it, but with enough garlic and lemon, it works) or fish (I like fish, tasty).
- Exercising. I try to go to the gym three times a week (I said I try) and mix cardio with weight lifting still. Now that the weather is magnificent, Matt and I have started going out on walks, and I also still walk to metro each day in the evening.
- And lastly oatmeal. I eat it every morning, but not necessarily on weekends because there’s only so much oatmeal a girl can fathom eating.
So that’s my long-winded cholesterol blog post I’ve been dying to share. Anyone have other good, healthy tips that don’t require eating something that tastes like cardboard?
*Note: items linked are not sponsored goods and I was not paid to mention them. This is just from my own personal experience.