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Diet/exercise advice (NOT resolution related)

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
A little background:

My family has a history, mostly on my fathers side, of high BP and cholesterol issues. His father passed away from a heart attack (early 30's ?). My father has struggled with his cholesterol for as long as I can remember. He's not an extremely active individual, but work keeps him moving (firefighter and PT boatbuilder). He's been on most of the medications, IIRC they tend to stop working for him after a while. Fish oils helped, but caused too much heartburn for him to continue taking. Severe heartburn caused him to have a heart attack scare a little more then a year ago.

My grandmother (mother's side) also has diabetes. I'm not sure what form; my mother swears that it is mostly diet related. She's kept it in check with just pills.




Because of this, getting a physical was on the back of my mind. I hadn't been since high school anyway (graduated on 04'). My summer/fall co-op kept me away from home, so I finally hit the Dr's office the week after Thanksgiving.

My BP was okay, even with the usual nervousness about being at the doctor. Everything physical checked out fine.

Age: 21, male
Height: 5' 11. something"
Weight: 191 lbs

The next day a nurse or PA called me with the bloodwork; Cholesterol is high, and "there's something on the liver panel that's a bit high. Could be over the counter medication, alcohol, or vitamins. No worries with that. The Dr. would like you to come in next week so he can prescribe something for the cholesterol." Well, let's see. I had been drinking an energy drink a day for the past week; I had gotten pretty drunk the past weekend, and I had been taking prescription meds for 6 months or so last spring. Without further info, those explain the liver thing.

The cholesterol makes no sense though. I don't have the exact numbers with me right now, my LDL and HDL were fine, almost perfect. The triglycerides were high, throwing off the total level. WTF? I don't eat fried food, I don't eat McDonalds, BK etc., no junk food (pretzels, reduced fat Triscuts and popcorn are the only snacks I buy). I've never eaten butter/margarine, I cook with olive oil. I had been biking all summer, at the end I was up to 150 miles a week for a good month and a half.

The only possible thing I can think of is that I was eating a sandwich (usually ham) at work 4 days a week for six months. Fridays we would go out for lunch, usually pizza or Chinese. Since the end of November, I have changed my diet.

Usually oatmeal for breakfast, with frozen or fresh fruit. Either a small portion of leftovers for lunch or yogurt (lowfat) and fruit, with some almonds thrown in. I finished of the few peices of steak I had in the freezer, and since have only cooked chicken and fish (Tilapea and Salmon) for dinner. I cut out the alcohol for two weeks, had a couple beers at Stowe.

When I was home for Christmas, I called the Dr. back. He wouldn't run the bloodwork again, it had only been 3 weeks since the last test. Well, the diet went out the window, as did the no alcohol over break. I never got drunk (I drove every night), but I wanted to eliminate that factor from the results. He still wanted to put me on medication for the cholesterol though.

I don't want to start popping a pill if I can do something else instead, especially if there might be a liver issue. I've been back in Rochester since Sunday, and I'm back to eating correctly, I'll have to see about the alcohol.

I feel like I'm loosing weight at an alarming rate though. I was at 191 the last week in November, I lost 3 lbs while at Stowe (and I only skied 1 day). Even with all the crap I ate over the holidays, I was at 183 this morning. Considering that I have not been to the gym over this time, I wonder if I'm loosing muscle mass? I know I've got to hit the gym, but I need to settle into a study routine first. I hope to get the bloodwork re-done next week as well, to see where I'm at.

This kind of turned into a little rant, but I want to know if I'm doing the right thing here. I think my diet is okay, but I'd still like to cut the carbs out a bit more. I like to eat either pasta or cous cous with dinner, what's a good alternative? Should I worry about the weight loss? Is jumping on cholesterol medication a good idea?

Anyone have any similar experiences? I'm young, I'd like to kick this in it's ass before it becomes a major issue.
post #2 of 16
I am sure you are going to get many good suggestions here. So I will just give you a few words.

You seem to be doing better than average with regards to diet. No mention of cardio exercise though. That is one thing you might want to include in your daily maintenance.

I also suggest flaxseed oil. I'm not one of these people who are all into holistics and such (not that there is anything wrong with that) but flaxseed oil is a wondrous substance with more and more clinically proven benefits being discovered everyday. One of which is it lowers BP and cholesterol. If you try this out, get the refrigerated dark bottled liquid variety, not the capsules, and do not cook with it. Non refrigerated can go rancid, and cooking it changes it into a trans fatty.

You have the genetic propensity for the ailments your family has suffered, they are like key holes waiting for the right key to be inserted and then fully turned to get ugly, by doing what you are doing and more, you can prevent that key from ever finding that key hole and not have to suffer its fate.

Your weight loss is simply due to not weight training (muscle, as I am sure you know, weighs more than fat)....to answer your question, yes you are losing muscle. After about 10 days of no weight training, muscle mass is lost at a markedly acclerated rate.

At 21 you have at least 2 more years of growth to go, so don't restrict your diet too much, keep eating healthy, exercising and monitoring things as you have been doing. You will probably have to be more careful about these things than the average guy, given your families history, but living this way is good for anyone.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I forgot about the flax seed. My dad was eating it, I was mixing it in with my oatmeal while home with the parents. I forgot to bring some back with me, I'll have to look around for some at either the grocery or health food store.

And no, no cardio since it got too cold to ride in October/November. My plan is to start hitting the gym this weekend, once my homework schedule calms down.
post #4 of 16
Have a look at the DASH diet:
http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/publ...h/new_dash.pdf

Quote:
Originally Posted by krp8128 View Post
I like to eat either pasta or cous cous with dinner, what's a good alternative?
Whole grains such as wheat berries or quinoa, cooked only enough to be edible.

Quote:
Is jumping on cholesterol medication a good idea?
If you like strenuous exercise, there might be problems with recovery.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Comprex,

I should have also mentioned I only buy wheat pasta, not sure if that makes a difference.

What kind of recovery problems are caused buy the medication? I just remembered that my father had all kinds of muscle tremors with the first few that he was on.
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by krp8128 View Post
Yeah, I forgot about the flax seed. My dad was eating it, I was mixing it in with my oatmeal while home with the parents. I forgot to bring some back with me, I'll have to look around for some at either the grocery or health food store.

And no, no cardio since it got too cold to ride in October/November. My plan is to start hitting the gym this weekend, once my homework schedule calms down.
Take a table spoon or two of the oil a day, either straight, or mixed in a salad or protein shake. All the benefits without the bulk. I would imagine you have to eat a good amount of seed to get the equivalent of two tablespoons of oil.
post #7 of 16
Quote:
What kind of recovery problems are caused buy the medication? I just remembered that my father had all kinds of muscle tremors with the first few that he was on.
Search on 'statin side effects'.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
There's a lot of "info" about that. A quick search turns up:
  • Muscle pain, due to muscle degradation
  • Liver incompatibilities
Plus, satins work on LDL, not the triglycerides.

I really have to wonder what my Dr. was thinking.
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie-Rich View Post
I would imagine you have to eat a good amount of seed to get the equivalent of two tablespoons of oil.
I'm sure you would have to eat a lot of seed to get two tablespoons of oil but the seed also contains valuable fiber which is lacking in many people's diets. I believe fiber helps lower cholesterol also. The whole seeds cannot be digested by the body, they must be ground first. Generally people use a clean coffee grinder or blender being careful not to grind the seed until it gets hot (which destroys the oils). The ground seed must be refrigerated and used quickly so that it doesn't spoil.

You said that you only buy "wheat" pasta. I assume you mean "whole wheat". Wheat pasta is simply pasta made with white flour and is therefore equivalent to white bread. I think whole wheat pasta is better than regular pasta (semolina or white). But you may try other grains. Quinoa or wheat berries as someone suggested. Bulghur wheat, brown rice, rye, etc are also good choices. Beans/lentils are also really good choices as they contain a good amount of fiber, protein, etc. Cous cous is available in whole wheat varieties.

I didn't see any mention of vegetables in your diet. You may look into increasing your vegetables intake. They're good medicine for the body.

I'm not much older than you and I'm the same approximate height and weight; I've even got some of the same family history. I just went for my physical a couple weeks ago and so far I have a clean bill of health. I need to go back for the blood work soon, so hopefully I'll have good news there. I know if I were in your shoes I'd do anything I could to avoid the pill.
post #10 of 16
Sounds like you're doing the right things. I realise you're 21 and excited about the whole drinking thing (I'm 22), but if you want to get serious about your health that is where you need to start. You can talk about flax seed oil all you want but my first recommendation would be to cut the alc. out of your diet. Limit it to once a week and try not to binge drink. Everything you do (the exercise/diet routines) gets thrown out the window by drinking 15 beers a few nights a week. From the sounds of it you're serious about your health and avoiding the meds. I am not a big fan of the meds either but they are becoming more and more popular so who knows. Try cutting out the alc for a few months and see what happens.

Oh, the other thing, cut back on the caffeine. It could be the reason for the weight loss too. It supresses your appetite and is a very powerful drug. I work a night shift at a hospital (i'm here now) and when I first started I was consuming far too much caffeine. Go to bed earlier and avoid the energy drinks during the day.
Less caffeine and alc. WILL DEF. improve your health not sure about the triglycerides but it wont hurt.
post #11 of 16
alcohol and simple carbohydrates are the two biggest things that raise triglyceride levels.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by krp8128 View Post


Cholesterol is high, and "there's something on the liver panel that's a bit high. Could be over the counter medication, alcohol, or vitamins... The Dr. would like you to come in next week so he can prescribe something for the cholesterol."

He still wanted to put me on medication for the cholesterol though.

I don't want to start popping a pill if I can do something else instead, especially if there might be a liver issue. I
I had a terrible experience with statins. Liver problems and statins sometimes mean big trouble.

I'm a broken record, but at your age diet and exercise are fundamental. I went to weight watchers and learned a lot about how to eat and how much to eat. Drop your weight, take it down to what WW says is right for you. Trust me, it's easy to put it back on if you have lost too much. I was surprised at my understanding of normal weight. The norm in America is over weight, even when many appear not to be.

Once you understand how healthy eating works and what to do, it's much easier to keep a handle on food.

My triglicerides and blood pressure dropped nicely. Cholesterol some, but still too high.

On execise, even walking will help. But, weight training will make weight control easier and bring your body back after all the weight loss.

You are lucky to be confronting these issues at your age.
post #13 of 16
In some, cholesterol issues are heriditary (sp) not dietary.
post #14 of 16
^What skier j said. You can't get away from your genes. I was doing everything correctly and could not get my total cholesterol below 250 and worse, couldn't get my LDL below 140---NOT good. Went on Lipitor and like magic, my HDL is now 150, my LDL is 70---numbers hopefully compatible with a much longer life. I've had no side effects. (Take CoEnzyme Q10 if you go on statins.)
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmccull View Post
I'm not much older than you and I'm the same approximate height and weight; I've even got some of the same family history. I just went for my physical a couple weeks ago and so far I have a clean bill of health. I need to go back for the blood work soon, so hopefully I'll have good news there. I know if I were in your shoes I'd do anything I could to avoid the pill.
Hah! Spoke too soon. I got my blood work back the other day and I'm in the same boat as you. HDL a little too low, LDL and Triglycerides a little too high. My GP recommended more frequent exercise so it looks like I'll be hitting the bike, the trail, the yoga mat, etc. hard this summer. :-)
post #16 of 16
http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...41487661765149
here is a rather lengthy video with Gary Taubes talking about carbs/insulin/fat.
When you shop for food ,stay on the perimeter of the store .Generaly thats where the fresh stuff is.
Base your diet on garden vegetables, especially greens, lean meats, nuts and seeds, little starch, and no sugar.
As others have said ,Flax seed oil,fish oil,olive oil,all good stuff.
You need to balance the carbs with the fat & protien. If you start reading labels you will realize that your carb intake is way more than the other two. And the carbs that you do eat shuold come from mainly fresh fruits&veggies.
As far as exercise,yeah get out there and bust a gut.
I had blood work done in Dec.,51 yrs old,and all the numbers where great.
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