At the start of our China Study Diet and Fitness challenge, I mentioned that my cholesterol numbers hadn’t come in yet. Well, thankfully they arrived a few weeks ago and sadly, the results weren’t very surprising.
Despite playing sports for a majority of my life and eating relatively healthy over the past year, I have borderline high cholesterol levels.
Hi, my name is Jason. I’m 6’4″, 191 pounds and I love food, calories, sugar, and fat. Sorry, I feel like I’m at an AA meeting or something.
The news on the high cholesterol wasn’t anything I didn’t already know. A few months back my wife and I got some tests run when she was having issues with high blood pressure, and that’s when I found out the shocking news. How in the world do I have high cholesterol??
What was actually shocking is that the CDC estimates that 17% of Americans have high cholesterol. And that doesn’t include those with borderline levels such as myself!
The primary culprit: animal products. Foods with high levels of saturated fat and trans fat are the primary cause of high cholesterol. Saturated fat and trans fat are most commonly found (in high levels) in meat, milk, eggs, butter, and cheese. Our biggest problem is definitely ice cream. My favorite, Peanut Butter Panic, has 30% of my daily saturated fat in 1/2 cup!! Who the heck only eats 1/2 cup? 😮
Other causes of high cholesterol are:
To put it simply: an early death.
It’s well noted that high cholesterol is a preventable condition and can be controlled by diet and/or medication. So, those that sport high cholesterol (like myself) can expect the following conditions down the road:
1. Angina – chest pain caused by a blockage from a cholesterol buildup in the arteries which restricts blood flow to the heart muscles.
2. Coronary Artery Disease
3. Heart Attack
I know these outlooks are rosy, so, if you sport high cholesterol I suggest you do as most people do: nothing. I often don’t understand when I hear people say, “well, everybody is going to die eventually” as their justification for being unhealthy and killing themselves. I know a lot of people feel this way, so I may actually be in the minority of those that don’t understand people who think like that.
It’s like the people that they think they should spend all of their money NOW just in case they die tomorrow. How stupid can you be?
While there are different types of cholesterol (“good” and “bad”), I’m going to avoid getting into that. I think some things get way overdone and too much information often paralyzes people. I see this a lot in my financial planning business: I’m all for educating and having knowledge, but the more voices you have talking in your head the harder it is for a clear decision to be made.
Knowing that, let’s just keep it simple. The ranges of TOTAL Cholesterol are as followed:
What’s mine you ask? 204. Just a little high. I think I was at 217 back in April when I initially found out I had high cholesterol. So, it has come down a bit!
Our biggest problems over the last 3-4 weeks was traveling and people. We had a weekend trip to Omaha for a wedding and a day trip to visit my grandparents in Eastern Missouri. We’ll eventually have to figure this out, but I’m not sure how we’ll ever be able to NOT eat meat when visiting people.
Most people don’t share our views and eat rather unhealthy, so I’m not sure how we can win in those scenarios unless we blatantly say we’re not going to eat their food and will just cook our own. I really don’t want to be THOSE people though. For now, we’re just trying to focus on moderation in these settings. This was also the reason I allowed us to have 1 “meat” meal per week.
The other major hurdle was ourselves and our lack of discipline. Remember, I. LOVE. FOOD. and so does my wife. While most of our vegan/vegetarian recipes have been delicious, they’re often not very filling. So, we did eat out 4 times over the last month. (1) A fast food stop on our trip out East, (2) a Mexican joint for our friend’s birthday after church last weekend, (3) another Mexican joint because we were HUNGRY (and lazy), and (4) Pizza Hut because it sounded AMAZING.
While there were some downs, there were a lot of good days/weeks. Other than the 2nd week of the program (due to a bad hip), we’ve worked out at least 4 times each week! Each week we’ve ran 3 times (typically (2) 2-mile routes, and (1) 3-mile route), done 1 Yoga lesson that emphasizes stretching, and 1 night with a Yoga “Meltdown” lesson by Jillian Michaels. Can I just say that workout is HARD. I dare anybody out there to give it a try. You’ll be sorry.
Here were some of our Challenge goals:
1. Eat meat only once a week – FAILED in 3 weeks, PASSED in 1
2. Limit portion sizes – PASSED
3. Avoid animal-based products – FAILED
4. Eat mostly plant-based food – PASSED
5. Work out more – PASSED
For those of you that are interested, some of our meals have included Sophie’s Chopped Salad (coming soon), a vegetarian Bolognese (coming soon), Strawberry Mango Salad, Spinach Pesto Pasta, BBQ Cheddar Chickpea Burgers (terrible), Vegetable Enchiladas (no turkey this time), and a Kale Salad with Strawberries and Kalamata Olives (coming soon).
Our lunches have consisted of a few different things: fruits (strawberries, peaches, watermelon, kiwi), vegetables (carrots or celery), applesauce or a parfait (organic yogurt, blueberries, strawberries, and granola), and then the main dish: Hummus Vegetable Wrap (coming soon), Detox Salad, and Southwest Quinoa Salad.
*will not be updated until the end of the challenge
Since the start of the challenge a little over 4 weeks ago I have dropped 8 pounds (despite adding on some muscle) and lost 1.5″ in my waist! Yay!!
To add to that, Toots has lost 3 pounds and trimmed .5″ off of the waist! All-in-all I’ve been pleased with our progress. Of course we could be doing better but then we wouldn’t be human. Our progress and increased energy levels are helping the motivation and I expect we’ll do a little better at sticking to the diet over the next few weeks.
Do you know what your cholesterol levels are?
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