Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Beating Bad Cholesterol

About three years ago, my lab test showed that my LDL cholesterol, known as bad cholesterol has gone up. My blood pressure was also 125/90. My doctor told me that the figures were just a little above normal and I didn't have to take medication yet but I needed to watch my diet if I wanted it back to normal and stay healthy. As for me, it is either normal or bad. That knowledge opened my eyes to my consciousness as far as my health is concerned so I made a commitment to be really serious about my food choices and made it my challenge on a day to day basis. I have always thought that I was fit and healthy because I never gain too much weight even after giving birth to two daughters. I would gain five to ten pounds but I never had a problem getting rid of those extra pounds few months after giving birth. But my maternal side of my family have history of high blood pressure; my mother has been on her high blood pressure medication for two decades now, she had a mild stroke once. Adding to that is the fact that most of the foods I used to love are high in sodium and cholesterol, crispy litson (roast pig) skin for me is to die for, so I knew that if I don't change my diet, the figures would go up and then I would have to go on medication for the rest of my life. 

Knowing that I was at risk of stroke and heart attack really made me take my diet seriously. I've realized that because I have always been skinny didn't mean I have been healthy. My physician told me to avoid red meat and foods that are very high in saturated fats, sodium and cholesterol like fried chicken, litson, french fries, meat burgers, cheese, pasta with white sauce, eggs, whole dairy milk, processed meat like ham, bacon, sausage and hotdogs. I went on a serious diet overhaul, just eating nuts, whole grains, fresh vegetables (salads) and fruits and almost zero meat, just grilled fish, roasted chicken breast and organic protein supplements for my protein. My doctor told me to come back for a follow up after 3 months to see my progress. And then every six months thereafter. 

For the first time I was worried about my health. It made me reflect on how many of my friends and acquaintances passed away because of stroke and heart attack. In fact one of my closest friends and high school batch mate Jimmy died of stroke at the age of 42. Still young and at the prime of his life, none of us his friends thought he would die so soon as he did. And these thoughts have motivated me to stay committed to my diet regimen. So when I came back to my doctor after three months, my blood test result showed my LDL cholesterol went down and my blood pressure was 118/70. After six months, my blood test results showed my cholesterol level was normal and my blood pressure stayed normal too. It's been three years now and every six months I still have my routine blood test and check up. I have been on the right track. I stayed on my healthy diet and made it a habit to read labels on the food products I buy. I would never buy anything that is high in saturated fat, sodium, calories. Once in a while, I still have my litson and my favorite cheese and pasta. But what changed is the fact that I take everything in moderation. 

I am committed to staying healthy and fit. It is such a challenge especially when you are surrounded by places where foods we love that are bad for our health are accessible or easily available to us. But I took it one day at a time. Now it is my way of life. It takes a lot of commitment and staying in focus. I love my life and I want to enjoy it longer. I still have a lot to look forward in the future. It is not only my responsibility to take care of myself for me and for people I deeply care about. It is also what God wants me to do with this precious life that He has given me. My take on this is, if I don't take care of my health, then who else will????