It was back in late February, before we went into lockdown, that I went in for my annual physical. I already knew what my doctor was going to say. You’ve gained some weight, your cholesterol’s a little high, you should watch what you eat/exercise. And I already knew that I’d try for like a week but then go right back to what I always do.
Unbeknownst to me or the doctor, the finger prick machine to check my cholesterol level malfunctioned that day. And because we didn’t KNOW it was busted, my doctor presented me with numbers that were so bad that the machine couldn’t even register them. I remember, they did it twice to be sure. My doctor’s tone was serious. Lifestyle changes HAD to made and made NOW if I wanted to see my kids graduate high school. HOLY SHIT. Not the appointment I was planning on.
I listened. I listened hard. I agreed to do everything she asked me to do.
- Keep a food journal and write down EVERYTHING I ate/drank for one week and show her that log the following week.
- Start exercising. I already HAD a treadmill. I needed to start using it for something other than a coat rack.
After that appointment, I went out and bought a journal and started logging. And after two days I was HORRIFIED by my results. I was over my daily calorie intake before lunch because of how I drank my coffee. Whoops.
Now, the super scary cholesterol test ended up being a machine malfunction, and after getting a proper fasting blood draw, my numbers were not at imminent danger levels, but they weren’t great either. By that point, I’d committed to making a change. With the food journal, I could SEE why I was gaining weight. I was drinking way too many calories in a day. But I worried it would be yet another phase. I’d do well for a few weeks then fall back to my norms.
Well, it’s a year later and I just had my follow-up appointment. Guess who broke their finger prick machine again? Ha. That thing HATES me. I’ll go for a fasting blood draw next week to get the real number, BUT…
I’m down 32 pounds and all of my other risk factors, have come WAY down. She was pleased as punch. She wanted to know what changed. I told her I listened to my doctor. 😉 Which is 100% true.
- I started paying attention to what I was eating. Gone are the multiple 300+ calorie cups of coffee a day. In its place? 1 cup of 120 calorie coffee (I NEED some cream and sugar) and then green/chai or peppermint tea the rest of the day. No cream or sugar added.
- I gave up wine. GULP. I was a 1-2 glass-a-night wine drinker to help me sleep. I swapped the wine out for Melatonin and haven’t looked back. Gone are the late-night snacks that the wine convinced me I needed. Thus, fewer calories in my belly right before bed when they stood no chance of being burned off.
- I curbed my reliance on fast food and am learning how to cook REAL food with EveryPlate.
- I started to exercise. This was the hardest because I don’t enjoy pain. And I equated exercise with pain. Which, of course, it doesn’t need to be. I went with an easy plan. 10 min of yoga doing ONLY seated or laying down positions. I picked moves that felt good to stretch my body and were good for my low back issues. Then, after that, for ten minutes more, I either go on my treadmill for a brisk walk, do weights for my arms (I’m up from 2lbs to 6lbs!), or squats/leg lifts. I don’t allow myself breakfast until I move. If I want to eat, I have to move. And trust me, I want to eat.
Now, what happens if I go in for this blood draw next week and my cholesterol levels are still high? Well, then we’ll try meds because my doctor has seen that I’ve done the work to bring it down naturally. Will I have regretted doing all this work for nothing? Of course not, because it wasn’t for nothing. I’m a different person than I was last year. A healthier one too.
It wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t overnight, but the food log is an EXCELLENT place to start for anyone struggling. Sometimes seeing what you’re eating makes you rethink. It sure did for me.