Are you all set for the day?
Healthy breakfast? Morning coffee? Maybe a quick Skimm through the daily news?
Don’t tune out, I’m only here to help. Consider me your Cholesterol Fairy. #Hashtag THAT!
In college (age 20) I was on a bit of an emotional roller coaster. In the summer of 2005 I lost my cat of 16 years, along with my dog and two close family friends’ dads to cancer. I had insomnia and was just plain moody. I went in for blood work and around December of 2005 the doc finally found something I wasn’t expecting. (It didn’t have anything to do with my change in mood) but it definitely made me change gears: I had an extremely high and unhealthy cholesterol level (think 300lb man).
*What the heck is cholesterol?
Cholesterol is a waxy substance found in all animals. It’s normal to have it. It’s just not normal to have an obscene amount of it. In fact, it greatly increases your chance for heart disease, and let’s not forget that heart disease is the #1 killer of women. We have LDL (bad) and HDL (good) types of cholesterol. “The higher the level of LDL in your blood, the GREATER your chance is of getting heart disease. The higher the level of HDL in your blood, the LOWER your chance is of getting heart disease.” Source: National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute
People lower their numbers by eating healthy, exercising, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and taking medication (aka ‘statins’).
Now, mind you… I was 20 years old at the time, 5’8” and around 135 pounds. I wasn’t the healthiest eater (what college kid is?!) but I rarely ate fast food and I managed to exercise a couple times a week (in addition to the occasional living room dance parties and walking to classes). Everyone assumed otherwise, that I was really just a fat-skinny person lying about a Twinkie addiction. I couldn’t help but scream “what gives!?” Doc said it must be genetic, because if I’m telling the truth (duh!) it just doesn’t add up.
College dorm photo shoot. Notice the fancy white wall?
(From left to right) Me, Brittany, Heather and Nicole
My mom of course had perfectly normal numbers which led us to assume that it all stemmed from the biological father I’ve never met (read: might as well have been a sperm donor). We finally concluded that he must be 6 feet underground by now because he clearly died of a heart attack at age 40 AND from the punishment of passing along such terrible genes! #ShameOnYou
Fast forward throughout the last 7-8 years of annual lab tests, dabbling with low cholesterol diets, experimenting with various cholesterol statins (ranging from cheap-cheap to high-yo expensive), wanting to give up because “if it’s genetic then my body must know what to do with it” and finally realizing that I really need to get a handle on it before I have a heart attack at 35.
In my current condition I’m 27, still 5’8” (weigh less than I did in college) am a very balanced/healthy eater and a fitness lover and still am not considered to be in the ‘ideal healthy range.’
Seven years later and I’m still posing for pictures!
Again, with the “what gives?!”
I’m not one of those people that easily takes to the idea of taking a med to cure a problem. But what are my options? Vegan-ism? I just…I can’t. And truthfully, I don’t think it will make much of a difference since it’s genetic.
So yes, this is somewhat of a whiny approach to an ongoing problem but I’m continuing to do research and WILL one day find a way to get off statins for good.
Did you know? You can’t be on them when you’re pregnant or breast feeding. I’m neither of these but would like to be one day. We can all agree that everything grows when you get pregnant, everything, and cholesterol is no exception. It can be really dangerous and I want to be prepared. Here’s where you come in…
Go. Get. Your. Cholesterol. Scanned.
It’s a quick blood test (Lipid Panel test) that requires you to fast for 12 hours.
Stop eating at 8PM, sleep, wake up and head straight to the lab. No coffee, no donuts, no gum, yes you can brush your teeth, but don’t swallow the toothpaste (you really should stop doing that anyways) and of course, make sure your doc has ordered you a lab test. Don’t just show up screaming “JULIANNE TOLD ME TO COME HERE!” That won’t go over so well.
Also stop smoking, drinking heavily and for crying out loud, stop making excuses.
Most of us can barely handle our own lives. We can’t manage yours too.
PSA in yo’ face. You’re welcome 🙂
And because sharing is caring, here are my stats for reference:
Total = 324 (less than 200 is desirable in women)
HDL = 58 (this is good, not great, but definitely OK. Over 45 = good)
LDL = 251 (this is bad, very bad. Should be no more than 110 for my age)
Total = 217 (not happy)
HDL = 72 (great!)
LDL = 135 (boo-hoo)