How a wrong test result reshaped my life

Back in February, pre-pandemic days… (Remember those?) I had an annual physical. Everything was normal, except for my cholesterol level, which, I admit has always been on the highish side for as long as I remember. After each prior subsequent visit of a high cholesterol warning, I’d vow to try to do better. And for a week or so I’d cut back on the drive-through, skip dessert, exercise more, etc.. But, ultimately, I always went back to my lazy ways. I wasn’t overly concerned because I was young and of average weight.

Until I wasn’t.

Before this physical, I had a follow-up with my GI doc for my ulcerative colitis. All was okay there, but when the nurse weighed me I felt myself gasp. I was the heaviest I’d ever been. I’d gained about 30 pounds without even knowing it. It was a shock. Then to have my cholesterol test come back at an obscene number, so much so that they took it twice, the doctor came in and had a serious talk with me about how things had to change. And now.

Now, full disclosure, the machine ended up being faulty, and after they had several other tests come back as sky-high as mine, they had me come in and retest. Still high, but not nearly the panic levels as before.

BUT, for that week or so when I didn’t know the machine was faulty, I had taken to my doctor’s instructions to heart. I was to do a food journal for two weeks writing down EVERY bit of food I put in my mouth and the calories that went with it. Then, I would follow up with her in two weeks and she’d take a look at it to help me figure out my eating habits and how to correct them.

I left that appointment, bought a journal to log the info, and started counting my calories. I mean, I didn’t think I was really eating all that much food… Until I started logging it. I made it 3 days of recording my calories before I told myself, I can’t wait two weeks. I have to change this NOW.

For instance, I was drinking 2-3 cups of coffee a day. Not a lot by any means, BUT, I was also using sugar and flavored creamer. A LOT of it. To the tune of 330 calories PER cup! I had NO idea I was drinking so many calories a day. I started there. I am now down to ONE cup of coffee with HALF the cream and sugar I used to drink and then black tea for my second dose of caffeine. I switched out my sugary cereal for something more filling like eggs or oatmeal. Started adding bananas and cucumbers into my meals. (With ulcerative colitis, you have to keep your fiber intake low so veggies are always a challenge.) I learned how to cook chicken breasts. Don’t make fun, I really didn’t know how before. A cook, I was not. I learned to enjoy rice instead of a bag of chips (don’t get me wrong, I still have chips, not just with every meal now.) I have one glass of wine at night instead of two. I don’t do dessert unless my calories for the day allow it… And I exercise. ME. Exercise. It’s not much, but it’s something. 20 minutes on my treadmill at a walk (I have back issues so can’t do much more than a brisk flat walk.) I do easy yoga and some light 2 lb weights, totaling 30-40 min a day.

Those two things, calorie awareness, and movement have helped me drop 20 pounds. I could still afford to lose 10 more, I’m sure. But for now, I’m maintaining this. If the doctor says we need to do more, than I know I have the tools to do it now.

I have not been back in to have my cholesterol rechecked, (due to COVID) but I’m sure that call to come back will be soon. If my cholesterol is still high despite this work, at least I’ll know I’ve done something to help my overall health.

Now if you’ll excuse me, my yoga mat is waiting for me.


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