Even if you eat perfectly prepared heart-healthy meals and exercise there may be one more thing you can do ... if your numbers are being stubborn and meds look like the only way to the cholesterol safe zone ask yourself this question ... is it what you eat or what’s eating you that is causing the trouble? Stress plays havoc on our bodies in many, many ways including blocking efforts to reduce your high cholesterol. So what is one to do? Your job may be stressful, your marriage, your kids, your money, your life! And now you have to worry about keeping stress at a minimum ... really? Popping a pill and hoping for the best (and no side effects) looks better all the time, right? Well ... that is an option and one taken by many people. Some don’t experience side effects, some do. Some have success, some don’t. Let’s look at some pretty easy ways to reduce whatever stress your facing.
Now assuming you are already eating heart-healthy I don’t have to talk about that - read previous blogs for ideas, if you need to. I don’t have to talk about exercise - again, previous posts will answer many questions about exercise. Stress! Let’s manage stress together. Personally, I have a serious stress in my life and rather than try to blame it on someone else, I will say that I bring on my stresses all by myself. I over work, I over volunteer, I over manage, I just plain overdo. I could talk myself into believing I’m doing everything I do for the right reasons, but if the things I love stress me out ... and yes, you can stress about good things, too ... what am I to do?
Deciding what you need to release some stresses in your life is personal ... you can opt to back off a little on projects you just can’t fit in, you can excuse yourself from a committee you signed up to do, or you can skip whatever you feel is best. I tried that, but I love all of what I do, including this blog, so I opted to continue working, volunteering, managing, and overdoing, but also opted to focus on some ways to relax a bit. OK, I’ll share .............
Breathe. Not just the quick breath, but a deep cleansing breath ... one that in its own little way energizes you and helps you to see more clearly. Go ahead ... take another one, let your shoulders drop gently ... they were up by your ears weren’t they? Mine were.
Stretch. If you are not ‘into’ yoga, allow me, please, to share some quick moves that will loosen some of the tension you may be feeling - and this is great for men and women ... and even children can benefit!
Standing tall with your feet either together or shoulder-width apart, shoulders back, pelvic floor tucked forward, head up, abs taut ... bring your hands together in a prayer-like position at the chest or heart-center, as it's called in the yoga world. A little hint, here ... if you spread your toes wide making sure each little piggie has contact with the floor you can balance a bit better. Close your eyes. Breathe ... slowly, deeply ... again .... again ... again ... and again. Now raise your hands over your head letting them move apart. Stretch. Hold it. Breathe. Return to the first position with your hands at your chest. Repeat. You can also from the hands extended position, lean over putting your hands on the floor (or as close as you can get to the floor) and breathe, letting your head and shoulders relax. This is a variation of sun salutation.
Tree pose is another good one, as is the warrior pose. I’ll put a link at the end of this if you’d like to see how they’re done.
Bottom line? If something’s eating at you ... face it, embrace it, or dismiss it. Your heart will thank you.
Here is a series of yoga poses ... if you need to modify one ... that's just fine ... the important part is breathing. Never push yourself if you feel pain ... relax and enjoy each pose. Click HERE.
Do you ever have those days when you wonder just what in the heck you're supposed to do? Eat this, don't eat that, buy this, don't buy that, this is good for you, this is not good for you … geez … will it ever end? We know how to do this, right? If you've got something ailing you, own it, research it, change it. Easy, huh? No, it isn't. But it should be. Why do we do what we do? Or rather why do we not do what we should do? Well, my friends … I do not know the answer to that. I can barely answer that for myself! I struggle daily with choices knowing full well the right thing to do. Most of the time, I'm pretty good, but believe me … I have my days! Knowing exercising helps reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol you'd think I'd be out the door and exercising, right? Well ...
One of my biggest struggles is getting more exercise. “Just walk thirty minutes day,” I hear and read every where I turn … really? How am I supposed to squeeze THAT into my busy day? And where? We have few sidewalks or walking trails where I live and we live in a hilly area which is not really good for my knees.
Another struggle is that exercise is boring -- well, it is for me. I liked step aeorbics but they canceled the classes. I liked yoga, but the classes are inconsistent. There are Zumba classes, but they fall on t-ball game days … and the rest is history. Am I right? Well, perhaps … so what's wrong with me? I'm lazy. Yep, you heard me … because I allow myself to be everything to everybody from my family to my boss and everyone in-between, I run out of time.
Then it hit me while I was out-of-town visiting one of my daughters. I have been making excuses for my lack of exercising for years … it's easy to blame someone else for my lack of motivation. So, since I had my six year-old grandson with me and because my daughter lives in a larger city than I we walked wherever we needed to go. A mile … two miles, three … no matter. I never enjoyed walking so much. After walking through a beautiful park we needed to walk along a four-lane for few minutes when my grandson spotted a incline and suggested we climb the hill. That hill was covered in overgrown vines … yes, it's spring here … and there were wildflowers and rocks … BIG rocks we would need to climb to get where we needed to go. Being over sixty and in pretty good shape, though no spring chicken, my daughter and I looked at each other and said, “Sure, let's do it!” Once we scaled the hill an immense sense of accomplishment filled me from head to toe. What fun! Our walk continued and we found ourselves in a small, well manicured park with a fountain. While my daughter busied her nephew, I dropped into the corpse pose and reveled in the way the grass tickled my back, legs, and arms. The sun kissed my face and I stretched, rolled over and pulled myself into downward dog … then cobra … child's pose … repeat … it was a marvelous feeling. Who needs a class? Why don't I do this every day … for me … just for me …?? Why do I let the world dictate what I do and when I do it? OK, there's work and ball games … there's grocery shopping and family responsibilities, but I asked myself … am I not worth it? Am I not worth feeling the best I can feel? All the time??? Of course I am … so I made a deal with myself … I WILL be getting up five minutes earlier until I've reached thirty minutes and I WILL walk each morning … boring or not … it's up to me to make my walks more enjoyable … I'm not sure how … but I'll find a way. Will you?
_Many people have come to me and asked, "How did you do it?" So, I thought I'd make a 'quick list' for those who haven't the time to read my whole blog - I understand!
So, here's the simple list. What isn't so simple is implementing the list:
I started with what I was eating. To stabilize my numbers, I removed all meat except the 'good for you' Omega-3 foods. After my second "let's take a look at your numbers visit" I added smart meats - research helped me decide what would be best for me. I began to watch my saturated fat intake and removed all inappropriate fats - again, research helped me decide what would work best for me.
I began to keep a food journal ... I visited Vegetarian Times to learn more and better ways to incorporate the much needed veggies into my diet. I eventually subscribed to their magazine - and I love it!!
I researched supplements and working with my doctor adjusted them to be more efficient. I discovered red yeast rice which my doctor hadn't heard of, but was amazed at my success in lowering my numbers. Some trial and error was required as I had a reaction when I mixed red yeast rice with Fresca or other grapefruit-laced foods. (Note: do not take red yeast rice and any grapefruit products). I added 500 mg of niacin and my doctor added another 500mg. Research indicated taking supplements or statin drugs were more effective if taken at night.
Now, exercise was my challenge. I'd much prefer to research, compute, read, do puzzles and science experiments with my grandson so exercise was a challenge. We own a Wii and have WiiFit and even WiiFit Plus, sports games, etc., but you have to actually turn them on to reap the benefits! One small success I have is with some little exercise CDs ... A Morning Cup of Yoga ... Stretching ... Balance ... TaiChi andmany others. This twelve to fifteen minutes routines fit very nicely into my day. Everybody has 15 minutes!! So, make the time ...you're THAT important!
I have toyed with a gym membership and even found a local one who offers a three-month contract rather than the full year. Still not sure since I'd much rather come home from a stressful day at work and chit-chat with my grandson! I'm working on doing both.
Equally important is staying in touch with your doctor. And, if you don't like him or feel he isn't a good listener or caregiver, for heaven's sake, find another doctor! Check out alternative ways to lower your cholesterol numbers ... community yoga classes, meditation, whatever it takes to de-stress you!! Stress plays a very significant role in high cholesterol numbers.
Our society is so stressed out we have acquired all sorts of maladies ... take time for YOU ... take time to do what you love ... breathe!!!
Stay tuned ... what does not work for me ...
I am ...
... a former blogger for a health site, which means eating healthy aka heart smart
which has become a passion for me. I will start at the beginning when I first
discovered I had high cholesterol.