Monday, June 09, 2008

Health Update

Many of my readers have asked how my health is…particularly my blood health. Well, it had been six months since I last had my blood levels checked. If you recall, the combination of medication and diet had an extraordinary effect to reducing my "bad" cholesterol and my triglycerides, while increasing my "good" cholesterol. However, I was a little skeptical prior to my most recent appointment last week.

Before my appointment six months ago, I went on a pretty strict low-carb diet. I limited myself from almost anything "fun" to eat, such as breads, cookies, pizzas, pastas and (gasp) M&M’s. But the effort was worth it. My total cholesterol was cut in half and my doctor stood dumbfounded in front of me for my success. Since then, I haven’t been so disciplined.

The holiday season came and went with the usual sweet temptations. I resisted pretty well and only ate an occasional cookie. Then came Valentine’s Day with all the chocolate temptations. Finally, Easter reared its ugly ears as jelly beans and chocolates danced teasingly in front of my taste buds. I’ll admit that I had to sample a few here and there.

My kids started karate and gymnastics after school on Thursdays and it became difficult to find time to cook a nice meal. Bojangles, Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s seemed to be the offering of the evening on such busy evenings. And then there is pizza. Probably my weakest moments were when I was confronted with pepperoni pizza. I had to have a slice here and there…and occasionally over there.

So, as you can see, my diet was not nearly as strict as before. Still, I have to admit that my pizza indulgences were much less than in the old days. In many cases, I chose to enjoy only two slices rather than the old three or four. The candy was always merely sampled and I haven’t bought a four-pound bag of M&M’s (to be consumed within 3 days) in many many months. To use a clichĂ©, the key is moderation.

Well, along with moderation should come a bevy of will power. I’m not sure many people could sample one french fry and not be tempted to eat a whole bag. Luckily, I’ve had such will power. Maybe it’s because I was always such a picky eater and a nibbler in my younger days (a trait my daughter now frustratingly seems to have inherited). But I’ve found that when I have a craving for a french fry or macaroni and cheese, I can simply take a bite of what’s left over from my kids’ meal…usually from my daughter’s plate…and be satisfied with only that one tasting.

I guess moderation is the key to my diet…or as I’ve said in the past, my lifestyle. (A side note…South Beach has changed the name of their entrees and wraps from "South Beach Diet" to "South Beach Living." I think that maybe I should have copyrighted the "lifestyle" label.) But is moderation enough?

I received the blood results this morning, and I’m happy to report that, yes, it is enough. Although my triglycerides were up slightly from 107 to 112, it’s still well below the recommended maximum of 150. My "good" cholesterol improved from 60 to 62 and my "bad" cholesterol reduced further from 57 to 45. In fact, the only concern that my doctor had was that my "bad" cholesterol was a little too low now. As a result, he’s cutting my Zocor dosage in half. I was hoping he’s prescribe a Big Mac a day, but no such luck.

Needless to say, I’m pretty happy. I’ve been able to integrate my favorite foods back into my diet without falling off the wagon. I still do not consume cereal and orange juice for breakfast, but instead have a low sodium V8 and either oatmeal or an omelet. My lunches are primarily South Beach wraps, or a sandwich using whole wheat bread, and a salad. I eat fish at least once or twice a week, and when we do order out, I choose the smarter menu choices. And lastly, I haven’t had a drink of alcohol in over nine months. Even my consumption of non-alcoholic beer is limited to less than one a week.

I’ll continue to keep you posted on my blood health as well as any other related issues. But again, thanks for the moral support in the beginning and thanks for continuing to inquire.

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