Lowering My Cholesterol from 223 to 170 in 6 Months

I have heard it said a few times that "Age is just a number." Well, it may just be a number, but with that number, comes a whole lot of changes.

I noticed that since I hit 38 (am now 39 and looking forward to the big 4-O), I've had to exercise more to keep my weight down; learn not to get too stressed out to control the blood pressure; and watch what I eat to stay healthy. Age might just be a number but with it, comes great responsibility.

I got the shock of my life last February 2006 when my usually good cholesterol readings turned bad. It was 223 (more than the required 200) -- a far cry from my 186 about 2 or 3 years ago. I then decided that it was time for some changes. I would watch what I eat and exercise more. I would take a re-test (a blood test, that is) in 6 months or by August 2006. It was funny but when one of my officemates would offer me "bad food" when it was very near August, I would say: "I'm cramming for my finals." He'd look at me strangely and I would need to explain that I was preparing for a blood test.

Good news -- my reading last August was 170 -- the best that I have received in my entire life. If you have cholesterol problems, by the way, please consult your doctor. What follows is just a re-telling of what I did in the last 6 months. It worked for me. It may not work for you.

For the exercise part, I obviously exercised more. I continued with my usual 30-minute brisk walking daily, my 10-15 minute stretches but since February, have added jumping rope (100 times though that was gradually increased over time.) Up until the time that I was still at work too, I would go down the stairs seven floors and then go back up again seven floors daily. I miss the stairs at my office. Anyway, with that, and my changes in diet, I have managed to lose about 10 pounds in the last 6 months.

As for the diet part, the number 1 rule in my diet is to never allow myself to go hungry. When I'm hungry, I eat. My snacks though are confined to fruits (apple, oranges, banana) or whole wheat bread (Gardenia brand).

As for my meals, here's how a typical day would go:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with honey or Fitness Cereal or one slice of whole wheat bread. (I shifted to Cowhead low-fat milk. Check the label of your low-fat milk. Not all low-fat milk brands are created equal. Cowhead may be a little more expensive than the rest but it has one of the lowest fat content per ml.)

Lunch: One-half cup of rice; one serving of vegetables (e.g. ginisang sayote, ginataang labong)

Dinner: Anything but no rice and sweets. I also ate fish, seafoods, and chicken more than beef or pork and prefer grilled, steamed, or boiled, rather than fried food. I also took (and continue to take) 1 glass of fresh orange juice (no water, no sugar added).

That was it. Also, when there's a party or a get-together or if it's a weekend, I allow myself to eat some "bad" food but generally, I watch what I eat and so far, it has worked for me.

With that, I have been able to lower my bad cholesterol and maintain my good cholesterol. Can't remember which is good or bad? My mother-in-law has the perfect mnemonic device: LDL is bad cholesterol. Just remember Lechon de Leche (roasted suckling pig here in the Philippines).

Anyway, good luck with your exercising and your diet. May we all live long and healthily.

[By Angelica Viloria | Wednesday, September 13, 2006]

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