Friday, January 29, 2010

Victory Is Mine!

I went to see the doctor this morning to get my latest cholesterol test results. He said my numbers are all good! This is a big victory. [The only number he was at all concerned about was a slightly low CBC, but when I explained that I regularly donate blood products and had just donated two units of platelets and a unit of plasma a few days before my blood draw, that concern was completely dismissed.]

I read him a list of all the various things I have been doing to improve my health and he said at multiple times that what I've done is "huge". He said he would give me 4 gold stars if he had them. He was very encouraged and thinks that I seem to be on a path to long term and sustainable goodness. He said it's very rare for anybody to take his advice as I have done. And he said he doesn't need to see me again for a year.
I'm posting these numbers partly in case they might be inspirational to someone else out there who is aware of a need to do something to bring his/her cholesterol under control. I'm not saying that these results can be replicated by everyone. Genetics can definitely make it impossible for some people to lower their cholesterol without medication. But in my case, I'm thrilled to know that's not the situation. Mostly, I'm posting my numbers so that I know right where I can find them, so that I can look at them and feel proud of myself.
If you see a great big gap here, I don't know why it exists. Please scroll down.
Date: HDL LDL Notes:
4/12/02007 44 145 Very high LDL inspired doctor #1 to put me on medication.
8/17/02007 41 76 On lowest available dosage of Lipitor.
1/12/02009 26 109 Off meds.
Unhappy scores.
Doctor #2.
7/13/02009 35 131 Still off meds.
Unhappy scores.
1/19/02010 45 97 Still off meds, but having changed my dieting and exercise habits.
n/a 39–60 <100 Desired Range

I started by telling him that I have lost 35 lbs. in the last 13 months. He asked how I have done it and that's when I broke out my list:
  • Started taking a multivitamin daily. [He thinks this is unnecessary, as I should be able to get all the nutrients I need from food. So I may stop this practice.]
  • Started eating an apple a day. [He was thrilled with this.]
  • Continuing to eat 12 oz. of yogurt per day — a practice I had started on his recommendation after the January 02009 visit, I think. [He was happy about this.]
  • Daily push ups starting with 20 in late November and adding one each day. Today was 83. Tomorrow will be 84. [He was thrilled with this.]
  • Stationary bicycling (admittedly not as much as I should be doing), with intention of being able to ride real bikes with Beth when the weather turns nice. [He's a big proponent of getting out and doing fun exercise. So as long as Beth and I both enjoy biking, this is wonderful. His theory: if you enjoy doing it, you're going to do it. And having a partner greatly increased that likelihood.]
  • Eating less red meat. [Good, and he's completely tolerant of the fact that I will never abandon red meat entirely.]
  • No longer eating fast food. ["Huge!"]
  • No potato chips in months. [Good.]
  • Less potatoes altogether. [Good.]
  • Switched to wheat bread rather than white. [Good.]
  • Eating breakfast daily. [Very happy about this. While he would like me to start throwing in some good oatmeal and also to add some fruit, he wasn't critical (much to my surprise) of my current choice of a sandwich consisting of wheat toast and peanut butter.]
  • Taking digestive enzymes daily. [He takes the view that I already have all the digestive enzymes I need. So I'll probably discontinue this practice. He didn't say it's harmful in any way, just unnecessary.]
  • Eliminating soda from my diet except on the rare occasions when we go to the movies. ["Huge!"]
  • Reducing my intake of orange juice. [Happy about this. Everything in moderation.]
  • Eating ice cream only rarely, and choosing light ice cream when I do have some. [He actually thinks that if I'm using ice cream as a treat rather than a daily part of my diet, I might as well go for "the real stuff" rather than the light. But mostly he just really wants me to make sure that whatever I'm eating, it doesn't include artificial sweeteners. I assured him that this is already a point of near-obsession with me. I am convinced that all artificial sweeteners are carcinogenic and I make a point of staying away.]
  • Not buying candy or cookies. Really only eating them on the rare occasions when Beth buys them for me (in the case of candy) or bakes them for me (in the case of cookies). [He's happy about this.]
The last major bit I want to share about this visit is that I told my doctor that the last time I visited, we had been discussing exercise and he had advised me that if I take up running, I should run trails instead of roads because I'm not exactly "built like a gazelle". This had stuck with me and provided me with inspiration. "Why shouldn't I be built like a gazelle?", I thought. I'm fairly tall and I have reasonably long legs. Besides that, as far as I can tell, I have a fairly small frame for someone of my height. Well, it turns out he agrees. And better still, having lost all that weight I now am built like a gazelle! Hooray!

And now the real last bit, which is much more minor: I had the nurse measure my height to see whether I'm as tall as I think I am. Sadly, I'm 3/4 of an inch shorter than I have believed myself to be for the last twenty years or so. That's the only sad news to have come from my visit to the doctors' office today. I can live with that.

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