Friday, January 11, 2013

Healthy Heart, Stylish Heart.

My name is JRochelle and I have a confession to make. I have had high cholesterol since I was 19 years old. Although my eating/fitness habits are a factor, genetics play a big part in my "condition". My father is a certified personal trainer and has been battling high cholesterol for years until recently when his doctor told him there was a genetic component and began prescribing "statins". Statins are prescription drugs that lower cholesterol by targeting the liver. Although they are very effective there can be major side effects on the liver after prolonged use. In my mind my liver is already shot based on years of partying, so ingesting statins for the next 40-50 years does not sound promising...

I will admit that my fitness and eating habits have tanked over the last two years which may have increased my cholesterol levels, so I decided to get some extra support to get back on track. I have been researching fitness centers and my health insurance benefits in order to figure out what steps I should take.

My health insurance covers six visits with a registered dietician per year, so I last week I scheduled an appointment with Diamond Nutrition Counseling. I had a great session with Rita. We went over my eating habits; we talked about my goals and we compromised on ways to make changes. She wanted me to cut out my desserts, but instead I agreed to eat whole wheat bread and drink more water. There were some other changes that we both agreed on, and one other that we disagreed upon. I generally have the discipline to control my food choices and portion sizes, but I have let my hectic work schedule dictate my choices in the last six months, so I was looking for some additional accountability. Ever since that session I've been thinking more about my food and beverage choice at mealtimes, so far so good.

Photo Credit: Diamond Nutrition Counseling

I've also taken some steps to change my exercise habits from occasionally walking to something more fixed. First I checkout my health insurance benefits. My plan offers a refund after 120 workouts in a 365 day period. I then researched local gyms in the area, comparing prices, group fitness classes, amenities, location, and finally settled on the 12th Street Gym. The location is convenient. There are five weekly Pilates classes, a steam room, a sauna, and best of all as a Zipcar member the initiation fee was waived. Also the sales rep made an error so I got an additional month for free. According to my calculations after deducting the refund, my membership is a whopping $15.38 per month!!!

The next step was to figure out an exercise routine that would fit my lifestyle. I've finally decided, after six months of talking about it, to start walking to work every day. I am also attending three Pilates classes per week, and doing 60minutes of cardio and weight lifting for three days/week.

On Wednesday I started off strong. I put on my sneakers and walked the 2.1 miles to work in only 30minutes. I planned to go to a mid-day Pilates class, but couldn't fit it into my work schedule. Thursday I walked again, and after work headed to the evening Pilates class. Friday I started to walk to work, but only made it 10 minutes into my journey before I got tired. After work I did 30minutes of cardio and then lifted weights for about 15minutes. Despite my fatigue on Saturday I made it to the 11AM Pilates class.

I did go a little overboard this week, and my body has been screaming at me constantly. My abs hurt when I sneeze, laugh or even look at them the wrong way! My other muscles have recovered from the shock of increased exercise, but I am currently being plagued with increased fatigue and cravings for protein which is certainly not unusual.

I'm excited to see how far I can push myself in the next few weeks before I scale back to something that is a little more manageable and less time consuming.