How I lowered my cholesterol, the hard way

by Lindsey on May 7, 2012

in J&L Get Fit

Some of you may know the background on this, but many of you don’t, so I’m going to start at the beginning.

In November 2007, I went to the dentist, and the hygenist asked me if I had diabetes, or if I had ever been tested for it. Um what? No? Why would a dentist be asking me that? She told me that sometimes they can tell from the color of your gums, and after revealing that it does exist in my family history, she explained that it was super important that I go get tested.

I didn’t get the test or results until February, but thankfully, they returned negative. Then the doctor told me that while my tests showed no diabetes, they did show extremely high cholesterol. After explaining what everything meant, I found out my total number was 234. (You should aim to keep it under 200.) She told me to take the next six months to change my diet and exercise, and then have another test done. I ate McDonalds a little less, but otherwise, didn’t really change much. I wasn’t really concerned. I’m not overweight, I’m what most people consider healthy, and I was only 25, how could I possibly have this issue?

In September, I had the test done again. This time, when the doctor called, she sounded more serious. In the last 6 months of me “changing my habits”, my cholesterol went up to 238. Not a huge jump, but not down, like we were hoping. She told me they were going to put me on medication, and didn’t say much more than that.

When I got home from work that afternoon, I decided to google the prescription she had written for me, just to see what exactly I was going to be putting into my body. Immediately I saw something that set off an alarm: “May cause infertility”.

I was 25 years old. There was no way in hell I was taking anything that might mess with my baby-making abilities! Apparently it’s the statant that does it, and all cholesterol meds have statants in them, even the natural ones. I called the doctor’s office back and told them I would not be taking that scrip. I told them I would do everything I could to control it on my own, but that I would not take medicine until I’m done having children.

I had it checked again in April of 2010, and it had gone up yet again to 243.

It wasn’t until I moved back to Pittsburgh in February 2011, that I started getting serious. Justin helped me completely revamp my eating habits. He started packing me healthy lunches for work, and we stopped having any junk food in the house. In September we started training for the marathon, and lifting a few nights a week at the gym. From June to December, I lost ten pounds, and for the first time in years, I feel physically awesome.

Last week I went to have my cholesterol checked again, and I was super anxious for the results. They didn’t tell me they’d be doing the test that day, and every other time, I’d had to fast for 24 hours prior. I was nervous that my Panera Bread lunch would cause faulty results, so I was expecting at least the same number, if not higher.

A few days later I got my results. My total was down to 203! I literally jumped up and down like a kid on Christmas.

From everything I’ve read, very few people ever have these kind of results without medication, especially when genetics are involved. The doctor says he sees no reason for me to even consider medication at this point, and that as long as I keep up with it, that won’t change! This is definitely the single most difficult, but important thing I’ve ever done, and I cannot explain how proud I am of myself for accomplishing this not-at-all easy task!

And just for the record, I would never have been able to do it without Justin, and this is just one more thing to add to the list of why he’s such an amazing part of my life. /shmoop

Have you overcome any major speedbumps in your health? Anyone else out there battling high cholesterol?

San May 7, 2012 at 11:27 am

Did they ever tell you where your high cholesterol came from? Did you have any symptoms? It’s kinda scary that something like this can be happening without you knowing about it (especially when you’re a health 25-year old!).

I was hospitalized with a severe iron-deficiency/anemia ten years ago and I had no idea that I had problems with my iron levels until then. I had to get blood transfusion and they were trying to figure out where my anemia came from. I never got a satisfying answer (as the regular causes for anemia didn’t apply to me). I’ve been on iron supplements on and off since then and get my levels checked regularly.

Lindsey May 7, 2012 at 3:34 pm

All I’ve been told is that it’s because both of my parents have high cholesterol, since I don’t fit the criteria for anything else. I never had any symptoms, and would never have even thought to have it checked without that dentist suggesting it. But cholesterol doesn’t really have too many symptoms as it is, so I wouldn’t have known to get it looked at until it got really bad.

Just Real Happy May 8, 2012 at 2:51 pm

Congrats Lindsey…on awesome health and for accomplishing that race. You’re so great!

Lindsey May 10, 2012 at 8:44 am

Thanks!!

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