Archive for the Transformation Category

Further thoughts on my lipid panel

Posted in Preventive Medicine, Transformation on March 1, 2008 by Dr. CJ

First, I forgot to mention the family history of abnormal cholesterol profiles – I added that to my theories for why my lipids are so stubborn.

Second,  I’ve decided to change things around a little bit.  I’m going to turn it up a notch with my elliptical work – still doing HIIT on the weekdays, but then HIIT + LISS on the weekends.  For example, this morning I did 60 minutes on the elliptical, 20 of which were HIIT.  (Almost sweat-soaked my entire shirt)

Finally, I’ve made some dietary adjustments.

  • increase my morning oatmeal consumption, one of the few proven dietary methods to reduce cholesterol, primarily LDL cholesterol
  • increase walnut and almond intake (again, has evidence in reducing cholesterol)
  •  cut out my little vices (I’ve suddenly become a chocolate addict since cleaning up my diet – no more)

I probably have an upcoming insurance exam again, which will serve as my next target date to get the lipid numbers in range.  No medication for me – I’m doing this the hard, honest way.

Analysis of my new lipid panel

Posted in Preventive Medicine, Transformation on February 29, 2008 by Dr. CJ

The results are in. I have to admit, I expected better numbers compared to my lipids measured 1.5 years ago, but here goes:

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 5/2006 – – – – – – 2/2008

  • Total Cholesterol – – – 197 – – [<200] – – – – – 191
  • HDL-C – – – – – – – – – – – 34 – – [>39] – – – – – – 36
  • LDL-C (calculated) – – 140 – – [<130] – – – – – 146
  • Triglycerides – – – – – – 113 – – [<150] – – – – – 44
  • TC/HDL ratio – – – – – – 5.8 – – [<5.0] – – – – – – 5.3
  • Fasting glucose – – – – – 71 – -[<100] – – – – – – 78

My observations:

  1. HDL is slightly higher, not to goal.
  2. LDL slightly higher (OUCH . . . really can’t explain this one).
  3. Triglycerides are considerably lower – I don’t know if I’ve ever seen one this low. At least one portion of my lipid panel changed considerably – too bad it was already normal.
  4. TC/HDL ratio is slightly improved, but still not to goal.

I have a couple theories to explain the less-than-stellar improvements in these numbers.

  1. Family history – there is definitely a history of low HDL/high LDL on my maternal side.
  2. Labs were performed at different labs – hard to estimate the impact of this one, but certainly can be a factor.
  3. Last year, I really only stuck to my solid regimen for 4 months. After that, I had a tremendously busy, stressful year that precluded a good fitness routine. Thus, these numbers probably reflect only a solid 6-7 weeks of my regimen from this year, following a 7-8 month period of relative inactivity prior to that.
  4. I discovered a study that demonstrated the HDL responding less to exercise in individuals with low Triglycerides compared to individuals with high Triglycerides. This article highlights a possible explanation for why the HDL did not increase as much as I expected. This finding is news to me – never heard/read about this concept before.
  5. Last year, I was taking a protein supplement that had quite a bit of fat, including saturated fat. That may have accounted for the higher LDL. I’m currently using a pure protein supplement with no fat. That’s the only supplement I will use. [That’s a topic for another day.]
  6. HDL probably increases better as a result of longer-duration endurance training workouts than I get with High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts on the elliptical. Could this be one limitation of HIIT?

Regardless, this just serves as another motivator for me to turn everything up a notch. I’m not a fan of long-duration endurance training, but I will probably incorporate more into my training. At least in the summer, I will do a large amount of biking.

I’ll be checking these numbers again in a year. I refuse to depend on medication, so I’ll be working hard.

My old lipid panel – pre-transformation

Posted in Preventive Medicine, Transformation with tags , on February 28, 2008 by Dr. CJ

Back in May, 2006, I last had some blood work done, for an insurance exam, that included a lipid panel. I, of course, held onto those results, because I obsess over my risk factors for heart disease. Here they are, in their unimpressive glory.

  • Total Cholesterol – – – 197 [<200]
  • HDL-C – – – – – – – – – – – 34 [>39]
  • LDL-C (calculated) – – 140 [<130]
  • Triglycerides – – – – – -113 [<150]
  • TC/HDL ratio – – – – – – 5.8 [<5.0]

And, of course, as part of metabolic syndrome, one must be concerned about the fasting glucose . . .

  • Fasting glucose – – – – – 71 [<100]

My HDL had actually been worse a few years before that, in large part due to some bad habits learned in college and carried into med school.

Stay tuned for the current lipid panel results. We’ll see how much progress I was able to make since cleaning up my diet and starting an exercise regimen.  I’m nowhere near my fitness goal, but I’m hoping to see some progress.

Water weight

Posted in Diet, Transformation with tags , , on January 21, 2008 by Dr. CJ

Sure enough, weight was down 1.5 lbs this morning.  Never get hung up on the daily fluctuation of your weight.  It helps to monitor it frequently, so that you are getting feedback on how your diet and activity affect your body, but there’s too much variation with salt balance and water weight to get bent out of shape about it.  If you did indeed break your diet, get back in the game and re-focus your efforts on starting fresh.  Remember, one meal never made anyone fat, just like skipping one meal doesn’t make you skinny.

In the groove

Posted in Cardio exercise, Transformation on January 15, 2008 by Dr. CJ

I’m back on track with my workout regimen and loving it.  I’ve been on the elliptical 6 of the last 7 days, 8 of the last 10, and am basically craving it.  Sure, most mornings, I feel it would be easier to lie in bed longer and get another hour of sleep, but I feel so much better after pushing myself on the elliptical.  As with almost anything, it’s hard to get started on a lifestyle change.  Then, inertia takes over and it is suddenly a whole lot easier.  If you haven’t reached that yet, keep at it – you eventually will. 

Progress in 2007

Posted in Transformation with tags , , on January 13, 2008 by Dr. CJ

I thought I should post some evidence that I’m actually making progress with my “transformation” and not just blowing smoke. Here is the spreadsheet graph of my scale measurements from my 2007 effort:


There are a few things to take away from this graph:

1) Weight will vary considerably day-to-day. A lot of that is just fluctuations in water weight. I have found a consistent relationship between consumption of carbs and increased water weight the next day. As you can see by the bouncy line above, the weight returns to normal fairly quickly once the diet gets back on track. Then, you can see that I really fell off my program in the summer, wasn’t even monitoring my weight.

2) Gradual weight loss is the goal. My goal was 1-2 pounds per week at the most. I may have lost more fat than that, but I was trying to put on some muscle at the same time, so I didn’t care if I wasn’t keeping up with that pace.

3) Metabolism is driven by food. My weight gain from vacation is obvious. I had no intentions of sticking to a strict diet on that vacation, because I had the opportunity to eat an incredible selection of fruits, seafood, etc. When I returned, however, I was not able to jump back into my same exercise regimen and yet, I lost all that vacation weight and more with relative ease. Granted I was playing softball, but that was only 1 night a week. That’s my favorite part of the graph – to me it suggests that my metabolism was running high after eating at will for 10 days, thereby making further weight loss a cinch. Maintaining an adequate caloric intake is critical to weight loss. However, I would not advocate yo-yo dieting, probably okay on a small scale like that but not good in most cases.

4) A vacation is great motivation for weight loss. I confess – it was certainly one major factor. It sure helped me to have something to look forward to, a target date for when I wanted to be in better shape. Obviously fitness is a lifelong journey, but it helps to aim for many short-term goals rather than an idyllic end goal.

A disciplined day

Posted in Transformation on January 12, 2008 by Dr. CJ

Aside from sleeping in a little later than I wanted, I have stuck to my fitness plan extremely well today. I started on the elliptical with 20 minutes of HIIT immediately followed by 35 minutes of a less intense endurance phase on the elliptical. Then, I just got back from a walk with the dog. Here are my meals:

10 AM (later than my normal breakfast because I slept in and worked out longer than normal)
-6 egg whites – fried

-1/2 cup oatmeal

-1 cup skim milk

2 PM

-7 oz chicken breast

-1 cup sweet potato fries

6 PM

-1 tilapia fillet

-2 cups mixed vegetables

Up to this point, here’s the breakdown of my food intake, compliments of Fitday.  My goal is generally to get a protein: carbohydrate: fat ratio of 40:40:20.

Probably 9 PM

-chicken and sweet potatoes again, I think.

And lots of water all day.

Best of all, no junk food whatsoever in there. When I’m at work, there’s always the temptation of chocolate and other garbage that’s too readily available. Like I’ve said before: If it’s not in the house, you’re not going to eat it.