Monday, February 11, 2013

The Case of the Disappearing Cholesterol

Too many people in my family die of heart disease and live with heart-related issues on a daily basis.  I suppose my family is no different than most as heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States.  The sad thing is that it is a preventable disease.  Our politicians bloviate about guns while remaining reticent about the self-inflicted epidemic of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.  (Side note, I don't want the government involved I am simply want to expose its hypocrisy). 

Today, I searched back to my cholesterol results from January 2011 and my cholesterol was dangerously high. My HDL (good cholesterol) was extremely low and my LDL (bad stuff) was way too high.  The only thing that was looking borderline good was my triglycerides.  At the time I was doing what my doctor said so imagine my frustration when it only became worse!  That's when I started researching a plant-based diet.  My doctor told me the standard pablum of to eat filet mignon when eating steak, only skinless chicken breasts.  I was also supplementing with Shakeology.  The stuff  tasted phenomenal but didn't dent my cholesterol.  So I decided supplementation was a waste of time and money. 

I ordered three books from Amazon: Engine 2 Diet, China Study and Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease.  I spoke with my wife and shared my results and my aversion to going on medication without first exhausting everything in my power first.  She was onboard and has been 100% supportive from the beginning.  My nature is to research and come to my own conclusion on things.  The books arrived and I quickly began to devour them.  

Admittedly,  I didn't know how to cook.  I simply ate a lot of salads and fruit but I started.  The research seemed to be solid.  Honestly, what did any of these three men have to gain for me being plant-strong?  They weren't trying to surreptitiously move the needle for animal rights groups just trying to get people to eat healthier.  I was hooked. 

After eating a plant based diet for two months my total cholesterol decreased by 25%.  I was ecstatic but it still was too high.  I made the decision that my new way of eating was not simply a "wait and see" but a new way of life for me.  I continued down the plant strong path and become more knowledgeable in preparing delicious and healthy meals.  I never asked my family to join me.  However, some of the dishes I was preparing were better than the "meat and dairy" version.  

My next annual physical was in February 2012.  This time my cholesterol decreased an additional 29%.  In less than one year my total cholesterol went from 253 to 133!  People ask if it's difficult to maintain my plant-based intensity and honestly it is.  My vegan friends have something inside them that despises the use of animal products which is a strong ally and empowerment.  My Adventist friends have a religious reason for not eating meat.  For me however, it isn't the meat that's a problem - it's the prepackaged convenience foods (ie chips).  

Two years into plant-strong life and I am still doing well.  It is imperative for me to read up on plant-based diets.  I really enjoy Dr. Joel Furhman's writing and was recently introduced to Jeff Novick and Brendan Brazier.  I intend to order some of Novick's Fast Food books and Brazier's Thrive soon.  

My next-year goal is to have my LDL, HDL, and Triglycerides to be 60 each.  That would give me a total cholesterol of 125 (if my math is right).  Over the next 11 months I am going to be diligent about hitting that number and losing about 15 pounds as I prepare for my first spring triathlon.  I want to be fit inside and out and live a long and prosperous life. 

God bless! 

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