Speaking of commitment, I have to get much better at it. I'm not talking about a fear of relationship commitment…I've already overcome that (refer to wife and two kids). What I'm referring to is the commitment to better health. I have a very high triglyceride count, along with high bad cholesterol (LDL) and low good cholesterol (HDL).
While many of you have probably heard of cholesterol, you may not be as familiar with triglycerides. Triglycerides (or trigs, as I'll call them) are cholesterol's secret and mysterious cousin. There's not a lot of actual medical evidence that states that high triglycerides alone are bad for you, but there's an awful lot of suggested and statistical evidence. For instance, a whole bunch of people who've had strokes also happened to have high trigs. High trig counts are also associated with low "good" cholesterol. HDL, or the good cholesterol helps to improve blood flow in arteries. The best way to improve HDL is to increase exercise. Therefore, it goes to reason that trigs could be reduced with exercise.
The challenge my doctors have been faced with over the years is how to keep my LDL and trigs down while my raising my HDL. Many years ago, I took a medicine that lowered my trigs vastly and well within the goal levels. However, both the good and bad cholesterol's were minimally affected. This seemed fine for a while until the medical world decided that even higher HDLs and lower LDLs were to be maintained. It was then, about 4 years ago, that the musical-medicine game began.
Previously I was prescribed Lopid…a drug for trigs only. Later, I was prescribed Lipitor, which worked well for the LDL, but my HDLs remained low and my trigs started to rise. I moved on to Zocor, which has similar results, and to Advicor, which contains Niacin. The Niacin is intended to lower the trigs while the rest of the med is to attack the cholesterols. One side effect of the Niacin is that I experience pretty intense flushing, which is very similar to having hot flashes. My doctor assured me that there was no harm to come from these hot spells, only extreme annoyance.
After trying this lasted med, my levels were measured as follows:
- Triglycerides 667, Ideal: Less than 150
- Total Cholesterol 260, Ideal: Less than 200
- HDL 41, Ideal: Greater than 40
- LDL Unmeasurable due to triglyceride count
As you can see, this latest medication isn't doing the trick alone. What's really needed is a lifestyle change…and this is what this series of blogs is all about. I hope to document my quest for better health. I plan to eat better and exercise more, which I suppose we should all do. But for me, eating some foods like cookies or M&M's is a near addiction, so it isn't gonna be easy. Plus, my current lifestyle and personal schedule doesn't allow time to cook complex recipes. I've learned that "convenience food" is nearly the same as "junk food," no matter if the packaging says "Light" or not. And it's not all about eating food; it's about living better. It's about getting out to stretch and build the muscles. And it's about making the gooey blood go away.
So what I plan to share here are the joys of success and frustrations of failure. Let's hope there's less of the latter. I'll gladly accept encouragement as well as tough love. I'll read all suggestions for recipes, work-out programs and whatever else you have to offer. Maybe this blog series will be entertaining and maybe it'll bore your socks off. Either way, it's therapeutic to me and my goals and I merely invite you to peek in.
As for those goals, here they are:
- Lose 15 to 20 pounds. My current weight is about 1Z4 and I hope to get between 1X4 and 1X9. (and no, I'm not telling my weight…lol)
- Lose at least one inch in the waist. My pants are 34-inch waist, and while that might seem slim, it's really not for my body shape. Plus, I'm wearing stretch waistband slacks…and the elastic is stretched to the limit. I'm probably more of a 35 or 36. I want to wear 33 without the stretching.
- Lower my Triglycerides to below 300 by my December 5 appointment and to below 200 overall.
- Lower my overall cholesterol to below 175.
- Raise my HDL to about 45.
To be honest, the easy part will be losing the weight and inches. It'll be more difficult to control the blood because a lot of my problem is hereditary, and not just related to food (remember those TV commercials with the people that look like food? That's my situation). But the hardest challenge will be to maintain those levels once I reach those goals.
So…get ready….get set….get better!