Thoughtful Thursday – Cholesterol

I went to my annual physical today at the doctor’s.

Now first, brief back story – Right after turning 27 there was a “health fair” at my then employer. My total Cholesterol was 260, so I made an appointment with the doctor and had my fasting numbers checked where it was 262. Then earlier this year before I left the “work force”, at the health fair again I was checked for a number of 298.

Here are some of the things I’ve been doing since being at home to try and better my health:

  • Limit “red” meat to once a week
  • Substitute “tofu” in place of meat at least once a week
  • Have Green Leafy goodness every day, such as Kale, Romaine, Spinach, etc.
  • Eat Oatmeal a minimum of 4 to 5 times a week.
  • Have Sardines at least once or twice a week.
  • Replaced white rice, white bread, etc with whole grain bread, brown rice
  • Finally developed the habit of taking a multi vitamin everyday.
  • Have lost 15.4 pounds and have officially made it back into the top of the “normal” BMI range.
  • Do Cardio a minimum of 3 times a week for a minimum of 30 mins.
  • Do Strength Training a minimum of 3 times a week.
  • Stopped smoking (TODAY IS MY TWO MONTH ANNIVERSARY!!!!)
  • Drink a minimum of 8 glasses of water a day
  • Eat more fresh fruit and much less “junk food”
  • Limit myself to only one egg yolk (but will use 2 or 3 egg whites for protein)
  • Use more Olive Oil for cooking, salads, etc.
  • Dance Like a Crazy Person for at least Five Minutes everyday. (Mental health here people!!!!)

I have put in a serious effort. Especially these last two months with the awesome support of my husband. We don’t go out to eat as much, and I opt for spending thirty minutes making a nutritious meal when I’m tired over grabbing McDonald’s dollar menu. It really is a lifestyle change that takes time, patience, and lots of planning on a budget. I buy green’s based on what is on sale for the week. Same with fresh fruit. The weekly specials are our “fruit for this week”. Not so much the “delicious oddities”. I also only buy bananas at the gas station in town that sells them cheaper than the grocery store. I buy fresh chicken breast and other meats in bulk, big bulk. The come home and package it all away nicely in the freezer to use up per my weekly meal planning for the month. I bake sweets and treats, and then cut them into pre-portioned sizes and ration them out for the whole week. Hey, just cause I’m being healthy doesn’t mean my sweet tooth has gone away. However, I know the ingredients I’m using in my sweets.

Little things like that.

Today is my physical. I fasted for it anticipating blood work.

THIS MEANS I HAD NO COFFEE THIS MORNING.
I WENT OUT INTO THE WORLD COFFELESS.

The doctor was very impressed with my weight loss. He said I’m doing good. We discussed the feeling of vertigo, and he was not concerned. An inner ear issue that 30% of people suffer from. Comes and goes when changing position, to call or worry when it starts just “happening” and is not triggered by a “change in position” such as sitting to standing etc.
My resting pulse was good (although I don’t remember it) and my blood pressure was 104/68.

Then came the cholesterol concern. My doctor was simply honest with me.

He said he does not feel confident in prescribing cholesterol medication (such as Lipitor or what not) to someone at 28 years old. He does not have enough evidence or studies to support what the long term effects of that would really mean. The reality is that people with high cholesterol have heart attacks, people with good cholesterol have heart attacks. Prescribing me a pill I would have to take every day for the rest of my life would maybe reduce my risk of heart issues by 5%, where as sticking to a more Mediterranean  based diet, exercising frequently, doing cardio regularly, quitting smoking, and keeping my weight in a healthy range would reduce my risk by 60% – 70%.

(Sidenote: I have to say, it’s refreshing to hear a doctor NOT want to immediately prescribe a pill.)

The outcome? No cholesterol test today. Just acceptance of the fact it’s in my genes. I need to be healthy, aware of my choices, and keep exercising. In another year or two, we will test it again. If there comes a time to go on medication, then we’ll go on medication.

Now, a tiny voice inside of me wants to scream “WAIT, WHAT IF THIS HIGH CHOLESTEROL IS KILLING MY ARTERIES AND I HAVE A HEART ATTACK IN TEN YEARS!?!?!!?”

Here is the reality. What if it does? What if I really don’t have a inner ear issue and really do have a tumor growing in my head? What if there is a blood clot traveling to my lungs as I type? What if I get in the car to drive over to my inlaw’s and a drunk driver plows into me head first? What if a plane crashes into my house while I’m washing the dishes?

I’ve lived a LOT of my life thinking that way. Reading health articles and magazines and everything else and thinking “What If?” I have laid awake in bed for HOURS at night thinking “What if?”

The “What If” thinking took me to a very very bad place. A very bad place. A bad place I never want to go back to.

So the new motto to life I’m trying to adopt: “What if it does happen? Life is still good, God is still great.”

I’m just going to keep striving to be healthy. God already knows the time He will call me home. I just pray it’s a long ways off. I pray more, that for all the people that love me, that they love Him more so that if for some reason it’s not a long ways off, they can cling to Him.

That may sound a little morbid. Maybe it was my grandmother’s death when I was barely a teenager, or not even a teenager. Maybe it was other things. I’ve always had this “fear” of death. Even believing in heaven, I fear death. So I have morbid thoughts. If my brain spider webs down that particular path, I can think myself to the point of sobbing out loud. At the doctor’s office, I know I need to take my own health into my hands. I know that I need to be aware of what is going on and not just another “cow” that’s ushered in and ushered out in the money making business of health care (let’s face it, it’s not a non-profit organization).

However, in talking with the doctor today about my cholesterol, I came to a few thoughts on my own after our discussion. I can sit here, worry about it, make them order me another test, find out it’s still high, and be where I am with more money out of pocket.
I can state I want to take a drug for the rest of my life, and then spend who knows how much time worrying about the side effects.
I can accept that maybe I’m just pre-destined to possibly have heart issues later in life, need medication later in life, and instead of spending my life right now worrying about it, spend my life trying to be more like Jesus and taking care of this physical temple He gave me for my life on earth as best as I possibly can.
I can spend more time praying that my fears and morbid thoughts would be silenced by the One who overcomes death.

Life Focused

I left the Doctor’s office deciding I’m going to wait another year or two before another cholesterol test. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing, and keep doing my best to stay healthy. I’m going to keep going to an annual physical and continue to try and keep my knowledge at a good level of what it means to be “healthy”. Keep my knowledge at a good level for heart health. I’m not going to stick my head in the sand like I don’t have a problem and revert to old ways. I’m also not going to worry myself into a panic about the health concerns I do have.

Above all. I wanna grow in Faith. With my health. With my fears. With my life.

I’m not perfect. That’s another post entirely. I’m a flawed person. A deeply flawed person. A deeply flawed person who has made deeply flawed mistakes and hurt people I love more than I ever thought I could.

Out of pain, comes growth. Comes a sorrowful heart. Comes forgiveness. Comes love. Comes Life.

I want to focus more on life than death. More on life then cholesterol.

That was my annual physical for this year. This are all the thoughts that spider web’d from it.

Life Focused.

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3 thoughts on “Thoughtful Thursday – Cholesterol

  1. Personally I wouldn’t get all uptight about your cholesterol number. Mine at my last blood work was about 250 as I recall, but my HDL was up from the time before and my triglycerides had dropped to what is considered a very healthy level. My doctor wasn’t that concerned although we are keeping an eye on it. Some research I have seen says that what is important is the ratio of HDL to total cholesterol. Some (more of a minority, but, hey, Elijah was a minority of one) say that cholesterol levels in blood work are not indicators of any merit. So focus on faith and on doing the best for your health and leave the rest to God. 🙂

  2. Good acknowledgement of fear and how it can control us! I don’t fear my death, but I can make myself crazy thinking about “what if my husband dies.” Or my kids! Fear is just a tactic of Satan and I think you’re doing the right thing being wise with your current health choices, and spreading out the need for tests without major new concerns.

    But more than that- CONGRATULATIONS on TWO MONTHS!!!!!!!! Way to go! Keep it up! (I have quit before too- you can do it!)

  3. Oh wow…
    I am just in awe of all of the things that God is doing in you and revealing to you…
    So glad that I am along for the ride. *hugs*

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