My doctor gave me a, "don't think of it as a diet, think of it as a lifestyle" lecture last summer after a routine blood test showed results that floored me. I left her office feeling doomed, angry and discouraged because I was living what I considered to be a healthy lifestyle. I am of the belief that everything in moderation is fine and I did not deny myself the things I love. I knew I *should* be excersing more, and that my diet leaned heavily in the fat and carbohydrate direction, but I never considered that these foods were harming me. Or could kill me.
The blood test she did revealed a panic number - my Triglycerides level was196, which bordered on close to double of what it should be. Triglycerides are fat globules floating around in the blood and are responsible for heart attacks and strokes. The good news was that my thyroid function was normal and I do not have kidney disease or diabetes. But my A1-C level, a predictor of diabetes was high, too. So this meant that all things were pointing in the following direction, I needed to make some serious lifestyle changes. I was 20 pounds overweight, I was not excersing regularly, I was of the #treatyoself mind-set and ate a lot of fast food and junk food, I was drinking a glass of wine pretty much every night, and heart disease runs in my family.
Clearly, I needed to lower than Triglycerides number. In a hurry. How? Here's where my doctor's Healthy Lifestyle lecure came in. I was told that I need to lose weight, stop eating unhealty fats and sugar, limit alcohol, excersise daily, and find a healthy was to manage stress that was not attached to eating/drinking wine. Not exactly a death sentence, but a game changer because I was being told to completely change my way of life.
I am a foodie. A Midwest foodie, raised on dairy and beef. Cheese is one of my favorite foods and I was eating it every day. And butter is my drug-of-choice. I put butter on evvvvvvvery-thing. And ice cream, whipped cream, yogurt, sour cream and cream cheese? Yes, please. Bacon? Hell yes! I love a steak on the grill. You get the picture.
I will talk more specifically about my new Lifestyle in later posts, but here's the happy ending: I went on a radical low carb diet (The New Atkins), I elminated almost all animal fats from my diet, I joined a gym, I stopped drinking alcohol inside of my house and drank only if I was out with friends, and I started practicing yoga 4-6 times a week.
Drum roll, please ... In 6 weeks I lost 23 pounds, and my Triglyceride level dropped to 94. That is a NORMAL level.
It's now been 6 months since I made those changes and I have not gained any weight back (including over the Holidays) and I feel GREAT. I eat unlimited fruits, veggies, fish, and chicken and I have energy like I've never had in my life. I allow myself one "cheat day" per week in which I eat and drink anything I want. As the weeks and months pass, I'm finding that carb cheating in the form of sweets, pasta, rice, and potatoes is not all that fun because I feel like hell the next day so I am doing less and less of it. But I don't want to feel so restricted in life that I feel ripped off or like I am missing out so "cheat days" give me the psychological freedom to feel good about my choices rather than deprived.
I have embraced the new sustainable me. This health scare was a lesson in not knowing how bad I was feeling until I felt so good. I did it, and so can you.