Home > Health > I Lowered My Triglycerides by Over 100 Points!

I Lowered My Triglycerides by Over 100 Points!

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In wrapping up our week of no excuses, I’m going a bit off personal finance today to talk about health. You could argue that health is heavily related to finance because unhealthy people generally pay more for doctor visits, medications, and insurance premiums. You might remember that I’ve been having a bit of a struggle with my cholesterol and triglyceride numbers. I’ve been steadily improving, but decided to kick it up a few notches before getting blood work done last month. I almost hit the floor when I got my results and found that I had lowered my triglycerides by over 100 points!

I Was Using Excuses

My cholesterol has always been borderline if you look at the numbers. At first I used the excuse that it was genetic. I can’t help that my family tree has a branch growing  high cholesterol and triglycerides. After all, I exercise almost every day and don’t eat that bad. Aren’t I doing better than most people?

If I’d stuck to that theory, I probably would have seen my levels increase yearly until I had to go on medication. My doctor wasn’t ready to do that last year, and we both agreed that I’d work harder to get my levels back to a normal range.

I Really Wasn’t Doing That Great With My Diet

After really looking at what I was eating, there was lots of room for improvement. My killer is carbs. Just because you aren’t eating steak and eggs at every meal doesn’t mean your body likes what you’re feeding it. I also have a weakness for cookies and chips, and I think I ate a few too many. I also used the excuse that I had a kid so I could buy stuff for her, when in reality, I am the one who enjoys it most.

You Can Beat Your Genetics

I’ve learned that as I get older, I can’t get away with so-so eating habits. I have to be on my game most of the time. Since the beginning of the year I have done a number of things to try and get the fat out of my blood.

Ate Mostly Vegetables, Fruits, and Whole Grains

I generally have a fruit smoothie with low carb or Greek yogurt for breakfast, some sort of salad for lunch, and lean protein with veggies for dinner. For snacks, I have been eating fruit, carrots, protein bars, and almonds. I’ve tried to avoid chips and processed food as much as possible. I do eat pasta sometimes, but buy the lower carb varities. We still have pizza, but I make it at home instead of ordering out. I do fall off the wagon. I had fried chicken last week in Kentucky, but ate salad the next meal.  This is not a diet. This is my life, and it’s honestly pretty sweet when you get used to it. I haven’t craved a chip in months.

Exercise More Productively

I have always exercised regularly, but I have been known to hop on a stationary bike or elliptical machine and kind of phone it home while reading a book, not really breaking a sweat. I used the excuse that I’m in good shape, so I don’t sweat that much.

In order to get your blood pumping and knock out that cholesterol, you have to get your heart rate up. I also was very lacking in strength training because I hate lifting weights. I used to go in and do my cardio, planning to lift afterwards, but I’d feel rushed and just leave.

After much experimenting, I’ve found that doing boot camp classes a couple of times a week plus doing some running alternated with walking while I lift dumbbells  or do lunges works great. Doing interval training really gets your heart rate up, and it doesn’t really seem like I’m lifting weights. I am not working out for longer periods of time, but I’m using the time I have more effectively. For a multi-tasker like myself, that’s a win-win.

Supplements

I have mixed feelings about supplements. I’ve seen too many people with serious health problems try to fix them with homeopathic remedies, only to end up in worsening the problem. However, I know that certain supplements do work if used correctly and in combination with other things. I did some homework and decided that fish oil combined with a plant sterol supplement might really help with my numbers, so I’ve been religiously taking them since March.

The Results

Last year my total cholesterol was 214. Now it’s 177.

My HDL (good) cholesterol was 55. Now it’s 62.

My LDL (bad) cholesterol was 112. Now it’s 92.

My ratio was 3.9. Now it’s 2.9.

My triglycerides were 233. Now they are 117!

I’m not sure if this is due to diet, exercise, or supplements, but I suspect it’s a combination of all. My numbers haven’t been this good since I was 25!

Excuses Why You Can’t Be Healthy

If you are a picture of perfect health, skip this section and come back when you turn 40. If you aren’t where you need to be, why not?

Here are some common excuses I hear from patients, friends, and family members as to why they aren’t healthy.

-I don’t have time. That’s not an excuse. I’m sure there is an hour somewhere in the day for exercise, even if it means getting up at 4AM. I don’t have time to cook on days when I work, so I make sure to cook extra on weekends or have things like chopped veggies ready to go for busy days. It’s all about planning and priorities.

-I can’t afford to buy fresh food. Yes, you can. This post will tell you how.

-I hate exercise. There is no way you will hate exercise if you do it consistently for a month. Try different things. I would rather eat raw liver than do zumba, but some people swear by it. What works for me might not for you. Even if you never enjoy the physical part of it, there is no way you won’t feel good after the fact.

-I’ve had a condition or surgery that makes it impossible to exercise. Anyone can walk or swim. If you can’t walk on land, do it in the pool. Ask your doctor. I’m sure there is something you can do.

-I have small kids. Get a baby jogger. I can’t tell you how many laps I’ve made around my neighborhood with a baby then toddler in tow. Our rec center also has child care for $2 an hour. That’s a pretty darn good price for allowing an uniterrupted hour of exercise.

-I can’t afford a gym. Do you have shoes? Arms? Legs? That’s all you need. Walk,  run, do jumping jacks.  There area also tons of free exercise videos on YouTube.

-I can’t afford supplements. You might not need them. I think my numbers would have been better but not as good without them. If  you decided to try one, look for buy one get one free sales at the grocery or shop on Amazon Prime for the best deals.*

-Life is too short not to enjoy what I eat. If you feel that way, you’re entitled to your opinion, but I’ve never seen anyone who has had a life threatening problem due to poor health habits that is really ready to die. You don’t hear,” I’ve enjoyed my life and want to die of this heart attack at age 55. “

Excuses make us broke, unhealthy, and stuck. No more excuses. If I can lower my cholesterol 100 points, you can too. What’s holding you back?

Do you use excuses more for debt, work, or health? Are there valid reasons why people can’t exercise and eat better?

*I’m not an expert so please check with your doctor before starting any sort of new exercise program or taking any supplements.

 

About Kim Parr

Kim Parr is a private practice optometrist, freelance writer, and personal financial blogger. You can follow her journey to 20/20 financial vision at Eyes on the Dollar.

30 comments

  1. Good job, you really made a very impressive improvement! Yeah, I admit that I have lots of excuses when it comes to exercise, I think that I don’t have enough time, that I’m too busy everyday but I noticed that my belly is growing bigger and it’s really frustrating.
    Clarisse @ Make Money Your Way recently posted..How the Investment Advisor Game is PlayedMy Profile

    • I think we all can find ways to fill our time and leave off the exercise. I usually have to get up really early because no one else needs anything from me before 6AM!

  2. Nice work Kim! I actually wrote a somewhat similar post today. :) I’d say the area of health is where I made my biggest excuses and actively started attacking that at the start of the year. It’s a work in progress, but the changes have been amazing. That said, for a large part, I don’t think there are really any valid reasons not to eat healthy and getting at least some exercise in. It comes down to choices, and sometimes our priorities need to get a swift alteration.
    John @ Wise Dollar recently posted..How to Make Money OnlineMy Profile

    • I think with all the temptations, it will always be a work in progress. At least now I know what I need to do and have no excuse for not doing it.

  3. Great you Kim!!! You go girl!

    I think you are exactly right, it is all about figuring out how to eliminate the excuses from your life. If you can do this, then anything is possible!
    Derek at MoneyAhoy recently posted..How to Make Money TutoringMy Profile

  4. Congrats Kim. Luckily, my health is one aspect of my life I’ve got totally mastered. It took me a little while to figure it out, but now it’s just habit. I wish more people could stop struggling and make excuses to establish healthy habits of their own.
    Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life recently posted..Survival Job Series: Employer Abuses and Employee EmpowermentMy Profile

    • Eating well and exercise would be much easier if we all just did it from day one. I hope my kiddo will think it’s weird to eat crappy food.

  5. That’s amazing. Great work! I have been increasing the intensity of my workouts, really getting my heart going as I’ve been running more. As I’m hitting the big 4-0 this year, I figure I need to ramp up the efforts to stay healthy. Like you I”ve always been borderline high on my cholesterol.
    Money Beagle recently posted..Progress Sometimes Hides, So Go Look For ItMy Profile

    • Turning 40 or being close to 40 really does change lots of things with your body. I have to work three times as hard just to maintain, and I don’t think it will get easier as the years go on.

  6. Good job! When I first moved out by myself, I was eating a lot of fast food and what not. My triglycerides were dangerously high. This scared me and started working on my diet and was able to bring it down to 177 – which is elevated. My next blood work is coming up so I hope my levels are all good.
    Aldo @ MDN recently posted..The Friday FiveMy Profile

  7. Congratulations, that is awesome Kim! Not to make fun of you, but I always seem those people phoning in their workouts. I mean you made it to the gym in the first place…so why not sweat a little! :) The only thing I’d say that is a challenge is eating healthy on a tight budget. I have’t yet mastered that yet. I eat healthy, but it’s certainly NOT on a budget. But honestly I’d rather overspend a bit in that area and live a longer, healthier life, then eat pasta and ramen but be on a bunch of different medications for the rest of my life.
    Tonya@Budget and the Beach recently posted..21 Day Challenge: Stretching/Link LoveMy Profile

    • You should make fun of me if I’m half way working out. Tell me to get my butt in gear! I’ve found that eating healthy on a budget can be done IF you aren’t picky. If I want to make something with red peppers and they are $2 each, I could choose the green peppers for $.50 but usually go ahead and buy the red ones. Better meats and fish are also expensive, even on sale. I do tend to buy what I want lots of the time. I wish I could always be flexible.

  8. I think it’s important to recognize that some people really can’t work out or exercise more because of health conditions. I do work out regularly, but when I was recovering from surgery in the past I literally could not exercise. My wife also recently had a surgery that made it impossible to work out while recovering.

    Again, this is an exception, not a rule. I do have sympathy for those with health issues that prevent them from getting regular exercise.

    For me personally time is my biggest excuse. You really need to make exercise a priority when you have so many things trying to grab your attention. I do the worst with sleep, but I really am “working” almost all my waking hours. I’ve really been changing my mind about exercise, though, and how it really needs to be one of the very top priorities in my life.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted..The Weekly Quick Hits RoundupMy Profile

    • I totally agree that you can’t work out right after having a health issue, even something like the flu can sideline you for a while. I’m talking about those people who always have some reason why they can’t work out. I have family members who had surgery for this or that 2 years ago and still use it as an excuse. Time is the other huge one. I really could probably find a million things to do instead of exercise, but that’s probably one of the number one things that’s hopefully going to help me years down the road, so I’ll make time now and hope I don’t get hit by a bus before I can enjoy the benefits later!

  9. Congratulations, Kim! That is fantastic news! Good health is very important to me and it is easy to make excuses as to why we can’t eat healthy or exercise. I admit to being a bit of an exercise fanatic. I don’t feel right if I don’t get in my morning workout. I LOVE boot camp. I thought I was in good shape when I first started and soon discovered that I had plenty of room for improvement! LOL! Time would probably be my biggest excuse as to not eat healthy or workout but they are both such a priority for me that I find the time because good healthy matters to me.
    Shannon @ The Heavy Purse recently posted..Money Excuses: Go From Can’t to Can DoMy Profile

    • It is funny when you think you’re in great shape and you do something new and can barely walk. It’s a good pain though.

  10. Well done, Kim! I have a weakness for cookies, too =). Luckily I exercise enough that so far they haven’t done any permanent damage.
    Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..PoP Balance Sheet – May 2014My Profile

  11. Fantastic. I just started using Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Body program and not only have lost 8 pounds in a short time but (even better) I feel awesome. Reflux is gone and I generally feel more focused.
    Joe @StackingBenjamins recently posted..Slash Your Cell Phone and Cable Bills with Mason Pastore – STK 074My Profile

    • That’s funny that someone who runs so much would even have issues. It really is true that you have to have variety in your workouts. I didn’t discover that until fairly recently.

  12. Great job Kim. I need to do that a bit too. More aerobic stuff helps the most I think.
    No Nonsense Landlord recently posted..How to Collect Rent On TimeMy Profile

  13. Great work on the triglycerides! As someone who also has to watch her trigs. I am so envious. I do have excuses about my inability to alter my numbers…..not a single one of them valid! I hate to exercise but do so grudgingly….mainly walking. I don’t drink alcohol which is a huge contributor to trigs. but I love cake, ice cream etc. all the sweets that have sugar in them which also impacts the levels. So I am trying but have accepted my need to be on medication. If I can just gain the will power I need to reject everything that tastes good then maybe I’ll make progress. Wish me luck.

    • When I got my results back when they were bad, I was bound and determined to do this and that, and my husband said that it wouldn’t be the end of the world to go on medication. It really wouldn’t. It actually might be easier because I wouldn’t worry so much. I don’t always have great will power, but I am pretty good at pulling the plug and getting back on the program if I slip up. Vacations are free zones as far as I’m concerned as well!

  14. Just curious but where you on any medications a year ago that you aren’t on today? My cholesterol numbers were all high until I stopped taking birth control pills at the suggestion of my doctor. I would have never thought that BC pills could cause that. Guess my body reacts differently to Meds.

    • I do take birth control, but have taken the same brand for years. My cholesterol has always been borderline, with or without bc pills, but my triglycerides are what went crazy last year. I wish I could blame it on medication, but I think it’s just getting older plus my genetics and not being as strict with my diet and exercise as I should have been.

      • I was on BC pills for 10 years and never had a problem with my cholesterol during that time. Then I had my gall bladder removed and started having issues. Guess the combo of BC pills and no gall bladder was what happened. Never put the two together until now. Anythings possible I suppose.

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