Thursday, April 10, 2014
I just got back from my doctor appointment where we discussed my high cholesterol problem. She gave me the green light to keep on fighting it WITHOUT medication!
She actually said I have nothing to worry about. My good HDL cholesterol is more than enough to protect me from all the bad effects of LDL.
And who is responsible for this?
For those of you who are not familiar with all this cholesterol terminology, the HDL – also known as the good cholesterol – is not largely affected by the things we eat. But it can increase dramatically with cardiovascular exercise. The more we work out, the better chances we have of increasing it and creating a healthy cardiovascular system as a result.
I explained to my doctor that for the last three years I have been gradually making exercise a habit. I usually work out five or six times a week now and no matter how hectic my life gets, I always try to exercise at least three times even if it's just a long walk. She told me I couldn't have offered a more precious gift to myself.
I know I'm lucky. I like exercise. Not everybody does and there are people who have a really hard time making it part of their lives. But our bodies were made for it. They need it to function properly. I bet our hearts and our muscles feel like they're being punished when we don't use them for what they were made to do. Have you ever thought about how the human heart reacts to exercise? Isn't it amazing that the more we exercise, the slower our resting heart rate gets? The heart gets stronger and it doesn't have to work that hard. It's like we're actually helping it get some rest!
Thank you, sparkpeople, for making exercise a habit for me. For giving me a way to fight negative feelings without food. For showing me how to make my body healthier and my mind calmer. For introducing me to a tool that adds strength to my life both physically and mentally.
I’ve been trying to make my friends and family realize that. I haven’t always succeeded. It’s not easy to make a sworn couch potato see the truth that lies beneath the habit they are too scared to quit. But I will keep on trying. Because if there is one "secret" about weight loss that needs to be shared, if there is one healthy habit that works and needs to be shouted out from rooftops, it’s this one.
Our bodies love exercise and they will always be thankful for it in many ways.
Do you love your body enough to exercise?
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Last week I had some blood tests done as part of my yearly thyroid check which I had actually neglected for a couple of years.
The good news is my thyroid is still holding strong to the hostile antibodies of Hashimoto disease.
And now the bad news. My cholesterol levels…
Higher than ever.
And I'm not only surprised or shocked by this.
I'm angry. Mad. Furious.
During the past three years, I've lost a considerable number of pounds. I have been avoiding fatty and highly processed foods. I have consumed huge amounts of oats which is said to stop the absorption of cholesterol. I have been exercising consistently and I have my HDL levels - the good cholesterol – to prove it. In short, I've been doing all the things a doctor would advise a patient with high cholesterol. And they would be supposed to work, right? They would eventually reduce cholesterol.
But mine stubbornly keeps going up.
I don't know if it's my genes. My mom has had high cholesterol for a long time but then again she's been a bit overweight all this time. I don't know if it's some kind of hormonal imbalance that causes it. I don't know if my body is trying to remind me that not everything is within my control.
But I know one thing.
I could easily label this as "beyond control". I could forget about all the ways I have learned of how to keep it in a normal range. I could stop eating in a cholesterol-mindful way and stop exercising. After all, whatever I do is not enough, so why should I bother? It's my body who's doing this, not me, I can't escape my nature. I could take responsibility off my shoulders. Oh, that sounds liberating, doesn't it?
The truth is that there are things about our health and our bodies that are beyond our control. The whole weight loss idea is much more than calories in – calories out and is affected by lots of factors that we can't even identify sometimes, let alone controlling them. But does that mean that we have to give up and stop trying? Where would we end up if we accepted the idea that we have no control over our health and our bodies? It would be a relief to deny responsibility. But it would also be the beginning of a self-destructive way of living.
I may be furious with my body for not abiding with the rules. I did my share and I expected it to react accordingly. The fact that it didn't gives me one more reason to strike back. New plan, new rules. I have to get even more mindful of what I eat. Pay even more attention to fat and cholesterol content. Maybe even try to lose a few more pounds and get to the lower end of my normal range.
Dear cholesterol, time to let you know who you're messing with.
Thursday, February 27, 2014
It's been over a month since I last blogged. During this month, I've been a bright example… to avoid at all costs!! My life has been "enhanced" with many kinds of worries and troubles, the "sanity-threatening" type. Consequently, I had little time for SP and I allowed myself all kinds of off-track behavior. I repetitively indulged in many temptations like sweets, pizza and wine, I habitually surrendered to emotional eating because it was simply the easiest way to deal with negative feelings and I even gave myself excuses – yes, I confess, I reached this level of self-destructive behavior – for overeating when my day was full of difficult situations.
And, of course, I would avoid the scale… But I had already signed up for the BLC24 with the panthers team, so a weekly weigh-in was necessary. So, every Wednesday morning, I would take a deep breath and face the ultimate judge of my eating habits…
"Oh, please, don't be very angry…"
"I shouldn't have eaten that pizza yesterday…"
"Please, show me the same number as last time and I promise I'll be a good girl from now on…"
And miraculously, it seemed to work! The scale would show almost the same number every time! It seemed too hard to believe and I even had to try a different scale to make sure mine wasn't lying!
But it was really happening. I was maintaining my weight through a period that was logged as "completely off-track" in my mind.
Now how did this happen? When I seriously think about it, there are two reasons that my body had switched to auto-pilot and was actually maintaining even though I wasn't trying at all – or at least I didn't feel that way and I'll explain the difference in a minute.
The first one was exercise. A habit I'm mostly proud and happy for having established. During this health journey I've had my ups and downs, like we all do, but I never allowed myself to go back to couch-potato mode. I have an amazing streak of 141 weeks of at least 3 workouts per week. It's usually 5 or 6. Being on the move constantly is my way of life. I don't have a car, I walk to wherever I want to go, I never use elevators and I grab any chance I get to keep my muscles active and my cardiovascular system in good health. This has nothing to do with how I eat. I've separated it in my mind and even on my overeating days, I still do my planned workout.
The second reason is vigilance. "What vigilance???" you’re going to ask. "Just minutes ago, you confessed having indulged in a great number of edible temptations!"
Indeed, I have.
But it seems that vigilance was always present. It's like indulging in a fully-controlled environment and state of mind. Yes, I will eat pizza tonight. If that was my weekly cheat meal, I would eat one slice. Now I'll eat two because I need to "swallow my disappointments and sorrows". But I will not allow myself to eat four like I would once do. (Not an acceptable behavior, I know. Not one I'm proud of. But still it's better than the eat-everything-in-sight mentality.)
I've managed to maintain a healthy weight through really difficult times that are not yet over. I may be at the highest end of my maintenance range but I'm still there. I can only imagine what would have happened if I had gone through this period in my life carrying my old way of thinking about eating when in crisis...
Constant vigilance is the free gift you get when fully committing to a lifelong healthy way of living. And with vigilance comes control. And moderation is part of this control. All these elements paired with an active lifestyle are keys to successful maintenance. Through good times as well as bad ones.
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Thank you for all the meaningful responses to the question I posted yesterday. If you haven't already, and you would like to add your answer or your thoughts, here's the link:
When I found this picture on the internet, I was really curious about what most people would answer. And presented here on Sparkpeople, the question gets even more interesting. Because this is a weight loss and fitness site, and it makes you wonder "Would most people give an answer connected to healthy eating and fitness in some way?" It seems that's not the case. Only three answers were directly related. There were many which were vaguely relevant but were more general and a few that had nothing to do with weight loss or fitness.
I believe that this question is mostly about regrets. What would we like to have done when we were younger but we didn't? How would we like ourselves to have been like in a younger age? Also about lack of experience and wisdom. What do we know now that we didn't know then? What valuable hint about life could we give our younger self if we could?
I'd like to share with you a short video related to the subject. It's in Greek but it's got English subtitles.
It makes you wonder… How many young people who would have such a revealing dream, would actually think about it and make a few changes to their lives?
Here's another true story. A nurse, who had cared for people in the last days of their lives for many years, revealed their top five regrets and actually wrote a book about it. These were the top 5:
1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
You can read the whole article here:
I'll finish this blog with my own answer to yesterday's question. So, if I could write a note to my younger self, what would I say in two words?
And I don't mean the chances that we can create ourselves. We get this opportunity every second. I mean those tiny and shiny shooting stars that fall on our path in life and we have to be really careful to see them and grab them before we step on them and lose them. And we have to use them wisely. For two reasons…
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
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