War on High Cholesterol

Yes, another non-gardening post, and another of my war posts, I apologize. But check the weather forecast for Pretoria – it has been raining for almost three weeks straight. It’s not even funny anymore – The Gardener Live Expo is coming up and we’re also going to a cricket game this Friday. Anyways, I have been inspired and I am so excited to share this.

Six months ago at a general health check up I found out that my cholesterol was 6.3. Which is bad. Very bad for a young person. Paired with my high blood pressure I left the building scared and crying.

I knew a big change was in order, but I couldn’t bring myself to think that it will be permanent. I mean, how can I live without my full fat milk and of course, most importantly, my amazing friend – BUTTER? The first week I really struggled with myself but I decided to give it a shot. Simply drink non-fat milk, which was horrific for the first month, and avoid butter at all cost. I have been eating my veggies, exercising (well, not so much) and drinking my water every day before this, so that didn’t need to change.

Six months later we scheduled another check up. The nurse takes my blood, my heart is racing and I’m seriously stressed. I wait for the little machine to tell me the horrific truth. ‘The machine is not reading…’ ‘Oh, here we come’, I thought to myself. ‘…your cholesterol is that low. It happens when it’s lower than 2.5, which is fantastic.’

Erm, did I just hear that? Even Dr Pink Cucumber (Dr Pickled Pink Cucumber as he wishes to be called from now on) asked the lady if it was correct. But there it was, the little machine showing me the beautiful word ‘LOW’ on its display. I got so excited no wonder my blood pressure was higher than normal.

There are a few tips I’d like to share with those who want to take control of their cholesterol. Maybe not all of these affect it directly, but this is what I do:

WATER

Please drink your water! It is the most amazing liquid without which we wouldn’t be here. I start my morning with a liter of warm water with fresh lemon juice. It refreshes you, calms your stomach and you get your vitamin C. During the day I drink another 1.5 to 2 liters of water, sometimes I add a cup of unsweetened tea. Try to avoid sugary drinks, sodas and alcohol as much as possible, but you don’t have to completely cut them off if you watch yourself.

MOVE

Take your dogs, or just yourself, for a 30 minute walk every day. Bring some music or an audio book with and just relax, get away from work and people. If you can’t get away from work because it sits it your head, I suggest taking a little notebook with (or your phone, for the modern people) – you need to write down those ideas! I often find myself racing back home just so I can write them down, poor puppies, they have to run a bit.

FOOD

Eat plenty of fruits and veggies. I eat a whole fruit breakfast with a spoon of honey or molasses with cinnamon for extra minerals and goodness. I always prepare our lunches ahead – there are plenty of lunch ideas online. Mostly it’s salads and the trick to them is very easy – keep them colorful. I found the more colors there are in a salad, the more keen I am on eating them. Add some chicken breast, beans or tuna and you’re good to go! Snack on fruit and nuts, get rid of those chips.

FATTY ‘FRIENDS’

However horrific it sounds, get rid of butter and full fat dairy products – it’s not that difficult at all! I also keep giving my chicken skins to Dr Pink Cucumber, since his cholesterol is low even after eating leftover pizza for breakfast (yes, you just read that correctly). After a few months you won’t even realize you’re not eating them. I must admit I still struggle walking by the dairy section when we shop. But isn’t it better to now know that you can buy one and have a little serving in moderation as a reward? Isn’t it worth it unclogging those veins, being healthy and feeling better? It really is a life style change and it really is not as bad as one thinks. Not to mention that low fat milk contains more calcium than a full fat one, which is essential for us, especially women.

All this doesn’t actually mean your life will be harder. It’s the opposite actually – you’ll feel so much better and if you’re struggling with extra pounds, they will come off too. Also what I want to add – this doesn’t mean I don’t have my chippies when we watch rugby or that I stick to plain salads in restaurants – you have to give yourself a break and reward yourself. Step by step you’ll get there, but you must enjoy your life too!

*This is based on a personal experience. Please consult your GP before going on a diet or starting a new exercise program!

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