Six months ago in November 2016 – that month was probably the best & worst I have ever felt in my life…On one hand, I was getting married to my wife and we would be jet setting off to Spain for our honeymoon. On the other hand, I had taken a cholesterol check a week prior to the wedding and received very poor results.
How I Let the Cholesterol Get out of Hand
While I may have looked healthy in November 2016, the numbers said otherwise. I was well over the normal range for Total Cholesterol & LDL (bad cholesterol)…by being in the Red zone for these ranges, it put me at much higher risk for strokes, heart disease, & artery problems sooner down the road.
In 2016 – I was in my mid-30’s, worked out 3-5 times each week, but my diet was poor. When I am in my “training” modes for running, I am so focused on what I consume and stay relatively lean. However, when I am not training, the diet becomes an after thought. The last serious race that I trained for was Boston Marathon 2015, so it has been well over a year since I had a strict regimented diet.
Because of a lack of serious running – Water was being replaced with sugary drinks, pastries instead of whole grains, & fried food instead of fresh food were the poor dieting choices that lead to the high cholesterol results.
How I Reduced the Cholesterol & Improved My Life
When I received the cholesterol results, I made a promise the results would drastically improve for the better within 6 months. Here are the action step I took to take back my health:
- A goal to complete a half marathon in March
- Made better food choices: Water, whole grains, & fresh foods
- Strict Vegetarian Diet for 7-Weeks
The physical fitness part (running) is important, but a smaller factor in better health. I could run 10 miles a day, but if the diet is poor, then my health is poor.
Because the LDL cholesterol was the biggest driver for my health issue, I decided to give up all meat for nearly two months! Saturated fats in meats & dairy are a big factor in the LDL figure, this fact alone made me give up animal products.
Eating a plant-based diet was not that difficult for me, since I have eaten vegetarian in phases before. After a few days on the vegetarian diet, I noticed better changes in my energy and mood fairly quick. Other people mentioned to me that I was looking leaner as well – I’ll take it!
The Before & After Results
Over the 6 month period, I experienced a lot of positive changes. My cholesterol improved, as well as my weight & body fat percentage.
Look beyond that physical aspects – in social media, people often show before & after physical changes that mention only weight. While it is great that people look better after their lifestyle changes, there are also other numbers to measure. Be sure to also measure:
- Body Fat %
- Any other checks your doctor recommends
Not only did eating strictly vegetarian save my life during the last two months, it helped me realize that I need to sustain proper diet for the rest of my life. I cannot have long periods of a poor diet, then expect to diet again to improve. By having a sustainable diet, I am giving myself a better way to live for the long term.
Make Today > Yesterday