Yesterday, I popped online to check the wellness screening results from when I last donated blood.
After reviewing my blood type and future eligibility information, I clicked over to the cholesterol tab…and my jaw nearly hit the floor.
My cholesterol was 275?
How was that possible? How can a vegetarian have such high cholesterol? I don’t eat butter and rarely eat cheese or eggs, I get plenty of fiber and I exercise fairly regularly – so where’s the problem? How on earth is my cholesterol 75 full points higher than it should be?
While high cholesterol can be genetic, I am looking to naturally reduce my count through nutrition before turning to a prescription.
What I’m Going to do about my High Cholesterol
Because of my new piercing, I can’t donate blood again until six months to a year have passed. I do, however, plan to schedule a cholesterol screening within two months. Since cholesterol levels can be significantly lowered within six weeks, waiting eight weeks from my high cholesterol discovery should give my body adequate time to respond to the changes I plan to implement.
- Reduce my consumption of animal products. Shortly after becoming vegetarian, I decided to try a vegan diet. I saw a marked difference in how I felt, but although I knew I felt better with fewer animal foods in my system, I reintroduced cheese and eggs into my diet because I felt like I was missing out on things I desperately wanted to eat. For the next eight weeks, I’d like to reduce my dairy and egg consumption to a maximum of one serving a day.
- Get more omega-3’s. These can help increase the LDL’s (good fats) and for vegetarians, omega-3’s can be found in flax seeds and walnuts. While I typically place flax seeds in my smoothies, I’ll be bumping up the quantity to at least 2 daily servings, or, if necessary, investing in an omega-3 supplement.
- Increase my fiber. It seems like a no-brainer – especially considering my current whole foods-based diet, but I plan to strive for more soluble and insoluble fiber in the form of oatmeal, beans, millet, wheatberries, etc…rather than the more processed grains like toast, tortillas and pasta. That’s not to say I won’t enjoy them – they just won’t be primary components of my diet.
- Skip the afternoon snack. You know the drill – 2 pm rolls around, quarters magically appear in your hand, you wind up with butterfingers or Sunchips from the vending machine. That’s gotta stop. If necessary, I’ll bring unprocessed snacks from home to ward off the 2 p.m. munchies: apples, which are high in pectin, a cholesterol-reducing compound, or carrots, for example.
- Hit the gym 5 times a week. This one may be the hardest for me. I love the gym and I love exercising – don’t get me wrong…but making it consistent has been a major struggle for the last several months. I’ve been averaging 2-3 times a week, which is absolutely better than nothing – but in the interest of dropping my cholesterol, I’ll have to increase the frequency of my workouts.
In light of the new changes, I made a breakfast that included plenty of fiber (at least two grams of insoluble fiber), omega-3s, fruit and a small serving of healthy fats.
As I cooked 1/4 cup of steel cut oats, I dropped into the blender:
- 1 banana
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 3 tablespoons ground flax seeds
- 1/2 scoop chocolate soy protein powder
It came out far more voluminous than I’d expected! I’d planned to drizzle the topping over the oats…but instead, I drowned the oats in the smoothie!
Topped the whole shebang with some berries, cinnamon and flax seed for a tasty cholesterol-lowering breakfast!
I’m hoping to see a drop of at least 15 to 20 points in my cholesterol by the time of my next test. Let’s see how this goes!
Have you ever been blindsided by the results of a medical test?
How’s your cholesterol? Ever had to lower it? When was the last time you got it checked?
In the wise, wise words of my yoga instructor Erin, “Some days you feel like a rock star, other days you just feel like a rock.”
Last night was one of those “rock” days. Mentally, I just wasn’t focused. Physically, I was shaky and unbalanced. Goddess pose killed my quads, pigeon pose downright hurt, and holding airplane pose beyond a single breath? Forget about it.
I hesitate to call any workout “bad”. Rock star or just plain rock, you’re up, you’re active, and you’re putting effort into taking care of your body. Regardless, when your efforts just don’t line up, it’s hard to move beyond that “bad workout” feeling of letting yourself down.
It’s far too easy to wallow in the aftermath of a sub-par workout. Driving home from the hot studio, I wouldn’t have believed Kathryn Budig herself if she’d told me my self-worth wasn’t measured by the depth of my downward dog.
A workout, however, is just that. It’s not a life-or-death matter (unless a gunman is dictating your shoulder stands, in which case I suggest you find a new studio in a better part of town). It’s not a competition or a means to invoke jealousy. It’s you, working on your endurance, your strength, and your dedication. It’s a practice.
You’re not going to kill it at the gym every night. Heck, even Peyton Manning has off days. And look at it this way: your off days don’t end your season Just remember:
Don’t blame yourself… It’s natural to accuse yourself of poor effort, crappy balance, lack of skill, lack of speed, lack of coordination…you get the drift. None of that is true, and if it were, you wouldn’t be able to work out in the first place. An “off” night is no reflection of your overall competence, fitness, or ability as an athlete, whatever your chosen sport may be.
…But don’t make excuses. Sure, crappy playlists, unenthusiastic instructors, stressful days at work, inadequate hydration/nutrition, and lack of sleep can all throw off your workout…but blaming them for the workout doesn’t do you any good either!
Leave it in the past. It’s done. It’s over. Leave the stress on the mat/treadmill/elliptical/court. Tomorrow is a new day and a new chance to bust it out!
Remind yourself of previous successes. When you’re feeling bummed and incapable, draw back on a time when you set a PR, nailed negative splits or completed your first headstand. Reliving the endorphin rush that accompanied your accomplishment can set you back on the right track to replicate the feeling in your next workout!
Do something to put the fun back into working out. Fitness fiascos can put a huge damper on my enthusiasm to get moving. One 37 minute 5k training run resulted in a two week hiatus from running simply because I dreaded getting back into the swing of it. A few zumba classes later, I had gotten back my enthusiasm for a good heart-pounding workout and was ready to take it back to the pavement! Whether it’s setting a new goal for the same sport or looking into a unique new workout like rock-climbing or pole dancing, shaking up your routine can put some excitement back into getting moving!
Plan to BEAST your next gym sesh. Positive thinking, Little Miss (or Mister) athlete! Need I really say more?
What do you do to recover from a less-than-stellar workout?