Taking a breather during class in Ravello, Italy
My transformation from chubby to lean began in 2004. I had surgery on my ankle in April of 2004 that left me with a severe limp. Eight months later I was still walking with a cane and had trouble getting around. I was too young for that and decided to take action. I knew that the Y offered free spin classes and thought that would be the ticket to strengthening my ankle and walking normally.
Exercise helped me shed the pounds,
but diet helped to lower my cholesterol
Spin did more than help me get rid of the limp - it helped me lose weight. When I started spin class I weighed around 180 lbs. Today I weigh 145 lbs. But a blood test taken in 2008 showed that I had high cholesterol, despite what some have called a "punishing" workout regiment. My overall cholesterol was 246. My triglicerides were 89 and the HDL or "good" cholestrol was 90. Cholesterol of 246 is high. At the time my doctor said HDL over 40 was excellent and counter-balanced the "bad" cholesterol. He didn't prescribe medication.
2008 was also the year I went to the Amalfi Coast in Italy to study the Mediterranean diet. I did it because I liked cooking and wanted to learn more. Little did I know it would change my diet and change my life. Today, I am doing the same workout that I did in 2008. The only difference is my diet.
As of this week, my overall cholesterol is 200, which is considered "good." It's the high end of good, but that's OK with me! It's a start. My triglicerides are down 9 points to 80 and my HDL is 86 from 2008.
Healthy foods like Red Snapper lowered my cholesterol
I had a jaw-dropping decrease of 45 points in "bad" cholesterol - and I attribute it all to my diet. Before going to the Amalfi coast I had fish a few times a month. Today it is a mainstay of my diet. I remember during Lent in the past, it was hard to have fish on Fridays. Today I have fish almost every night and find it delicious.
My favorite: Grilled Tuna!
I only wish I had been checking my cholesterol in the years between 2008 and 2012. I will get it checked at least once a year in the future. Not only is it important to check your cholesterol, but other things like PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) for men (mine is 1.1 - anything under 4 is good). It should also be noted that I've been to doctors (quite often) since 2008 - I just didn't go to a general practitioner. I have skin cancer issues and see my dermatologist every 3 months (I'm a malignant melanoma surviver). And I see my orthopedist quite often for tendonitis in my shoulder. And the dentist twice a year . . . you get the drill!
Diet and exercise for weight loss and good health
I became strict about my diet starting in June of 2011 when I started this blog. Since that time I've lost about 10 pounds, which I attribute to eliminating red meat (except on special occasions) and having fish practically every night for dinner. If you're looking to lower your cholsterol and blood pressure, exercise alone doesn't do it - you have to watch what you eat as well. In addition to my improved cholesterol, my blood pressure is 110/60. In the past I had high blood pressure to the point that I carried nitroglycerin to ward off angina.
Look at it this way - if you have high cholesterol - it's either diet or medication. Statins, to be exact. Statins are to be avoided if at all possible, but if you have high cholesterol, you may not have a choice. If you're borderline, take a look at this article - it may motivate you to living the Skinny Gourmet Guy way! http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/14/do-statins-make-it-tough-to-exercise/?hp