Three months ago I got a physical and a blood test. The doctor told me my cholesterol was too high and that it had increased from a year ago. He wanted to start me on a low dose of Lipitor to bring it down. Being 34 years old, I was not too happy about going on Lipitor. I asked him for three months to see if I can bring it down using diet and exercise. He agreed.
It’s now been three months and I’ve lost 31 lbs but more importantly brought my cholesterol down to a safe level, started exercising and generally feel a whole lot better. I’m sharing this story here to act as a resource of links and information for anyone out there that wants to lower their cholesterol or lose weight. Here is what I did.
What did I eat?
The most important thing I did was change my diet. I was not a heavy junk food eater or snacker, but in general did not really watch what I ate. For the past three months, I’ve stuck strictly to this diet:
- Breakfast - egg white omelet with vegetables and salsa verde on top. The key to this was buying pre-made egg whites in a container as well as pre-cut veggies. The whole thing takes 5 mins to make and is delicious.
- Lunch - salad. I pretty much got the same salad every day. It consists of lettuce, tuna (no mayo), anchovies and tomatoes with Balsamic vinegar and oil.
- Dinner - mostly salad, sometimes fish or chicken. I also switched from sushi to sashimi and had that about once a week.
The biggest change I believe I made was to avoid carbs as much as possible and completely cut out wheat and gluten. I’m pretty much convinced gluten is poison and that carbs are what cause obesity and heart disease, not dietary fat. About a month in, I also realized that there was a name for the diet I was doing - The Paleo Diet.
What about exercise?
About a month in I started to exercise. I alternated every other day between running and strength training. For running, I did an 8 week 5k training program. I live next to Central Park which really motivated me since it is so beautiful and there are so many runners out there. For strength training, I did this Basic Bodyweight Workout which lasts about 30 mins and doesn’t require any equipment.
Of course! I used these apps to help me track my data:
- Fitbit - I used this to track my weight as well as steps using the Fitbit Ultra. I don’t have their wifi scale although it’s on my wishlist.
- Runkeeper - I used this to track my runs as well as their free 5k training program. I paired it with a Polar Bluetooth heart-rate monitor as well.
- Lift - I used this to help form habits - daily exercise, daily stretching and sleep before midnight.
- Moves - even though this duplicates what Fitbit and Runkeeper do, I love it so much that I also had to use it.
- Google Docs - I created a spreadhseet and wrote some scripts to pull data from the above apps into a master spreadsheet. Geeking out over data made this a lot more fun.
What did I read?
I found a few books and websites that really helped me learn about diet and exercise as well as keep me motivated:
- Mark’s Daily Apple - great recipes, great education on the Paleo diet and overall nutrition and health life-hacks.
- Nerd Fitness - exercise tips, motivational essays and more.
- Wheat Belly - why wheat and gluten are killing us.
- Good Calories, Bad Calories - how carbs are the cause of obesity and heart disease, not dietary fat.
- Runner’s Connect - lots of info on running, from a trainer on Runkeeper.
Did I take any pills?
- Fish Oil - really important for dietary fat.
- Lecithin - recommended by my grandma who had low cholesterol.
- Probiotics - good bacteria to cleanse the gut.
These last three months have probably been the most important of my life. While I never felt like I was very fat, the bottom line is, I was. It took a wake-up call from the doctor to really kick me into gear. Along the way, my main four motivations were:
- Lower my cholesterol
- Feel great all day
- Lose weight
- Build muscles
Now that my cholesterol is low, feeling great and not putting the weight back on are my primary motivations. Unlike in the past, I feel like this lifestyle change is going to last. I’ve never gone this long on a diet or exercised this much. I have so much energy all day and my clothing fits me so much better now. I can’t imagine going back to the way I was. I even signed up for a 16 week 10k training program!
For reference, here are my numbers from April 10th -> July 10th.Total cholesterol: 232 -> 185
Triglycerides: 182 -> 61
HDL: 66 -> 85 (higher is better)
LDL: 130 -> 88
Weight: 193.6 -> 162.7
toddwickersty asked: What are your opinions of Status board?
I love it. We use it in the office to show key metrics, current song playing and other cool stuff. I also built one for Runkeeper’s Health Graph so I can see some personal health stats.