Making Changes

Yeah, I’m alive. Just haven’t had the gumption to blog since my last post in October. That’s not to say things have not been uneventful because they most definitely have, so let’s start.

As far as my rotator cuff injury goes, it’s completely healed and no physical therapy was needed. I just followed my doctor’s orders and the pain eventually went away which is a good thing because that son of a bitch really, really hurt.

Also, I had to go to urgent care on Christmas morning due to a little mishap. I was pressing a suction cup against the kitchen window when it gave way and broke. As my hand went through the busted window, a piece of glass sliced open my thumb and was bleeding pretty badly –– and didn’t stop. Two urgent care facilities later (one was closed and the other was busy with people getting tested for COVID), my thumb was cared for with steri-strips and a bandage –– and I got a tetanus shot. Unfortunately, the strip didn’t hold so I had to go back but the wait time was literally unknown so I instead went to Walgreens for some Liquid Bandage and glued it back myself. It’s all healed now. Other than that, it was a nice Christmas.

Speaking of COVID, we’re all fine. We’re all double-dosed and boosted, and none of us have caught it. That’s because we follow the rules and don’t do stupid shit that puts us in harm’s way, something to be ever mindful of when living with two asthmatics.

So to get to the subject and title of this post, let’s go back to my doctor’s follow-up visit for my rotator cuff. During that time we went over the results of my blood work and while most were fine, a few needed attention. The one that stood out was my LDL cholesterol level (aka “bad” cholesterol). It wasn’t through the roof but not within range either, meaning my risk of heart-attack was 3% over the next 10 years. It’s a minimal number but he suggested making some changes to get it lower.

He also suggested 150 minutes of exercise –– a week. That comes out to 30 minutes, 5 days a week. My average walk is 80 minutes a day, 5 times a week. Ahem.

Anyway, to bring down that number, it meant cutting back on or eliminating foods that are high in cholesterol which meant that eggs would be the first to go. I had gotten into the habit of eating two eggs every day for breakfast and thinking I was doing my body good. Obviously I was mistaken with that LDL level.

Dairy products also had to go but considering my lactose intolerance, this wasn’t hard. I haven’t had regular milk and years and when I have tried it, it tasted incredibly awful. I mean…blah!

Also high in cholesterol, as you might have guessed, is chicken. Makes sense if you think about it. Chicken in any form had been a staple of my diet since I lost weight because it was light and less fatty than red meats which are also high in cholesterol. So at this point I was starting to wonder what in the world I was going to eat.

But my health is more important that a juicy burger or chicken sandwich so I made the choice to give up both of them and start working on a plant-based diet. It took a little time to get used to but one month into it, it’s making a difference.

I’m down just over 5 pounds and according to my smart scale, numbers such as body fat are down and muscle mass and lean body mass are up. The real test will be when I get the next round of blood work done.

But getting back to the food. When I decided to do this, I thought that I’d be eating salads every damn day which honestly, kind of angered me a bit. I like a good salad but I just can’t do it all the time. But after doing a little research, I found that I could eat satisfying, filling meatless meals.

One thing I’ve grown to enjoy is quinoa. Mix in a little salsa and you’re good to go, and it’s high in everything good and free of cholesterol. Next on the list is tofu, another plant-based food that is high in protein but has zero cholesterol. (Flame Broiler has a delicious organic tofu bowl and has become my go-to restaurant.) Tofu often gets a bad rap since it’s so bland but when prepared properly, it pretty much takes on the flavor of whatever you’re mixing it with. It’s like a flavor sponge.

And sushi? Yes, especially when made with brown rice and doesn’t include any seafood. Basically, grains are good.

There are also a myriad of meatless and plant-based food products in the store that I’ve been trying and making notes about. Some are good, some are just awful. But the key thing to remember is that you can’t expect these things to taste exactly like chicken or meat because if you do, you’ll never be satisfied. Instead I focus on the overall flavor and if it’s good, I’ll get it again. The goal is to eat cholesterol-free foods and plant-based foods fill that void. I used to mock these things but when faced with making important changes to your life, you start to appreciate the value in them if you have a craving for something that remotely tastes like meat or chicken –– and some aren’t bad.

And oh yeah, Burger King’s Impossible Whopper. While not free of cholesterol (but much lower than its real meat counterpart), I do enjoy one now and then.

Speaking of meat, on the few occasions when I’ve had a small taste of the real thing , it didn’t taste the same anymore. I suppose that’s a good thing because I no longer crave it.

So I’m a month in into this and it’s already proving to be a successful change. And I’m not here to convert anyone into vegetarianism/flexitarianism or chastise carnivores. You do you. This change was something I had to for myself and nobody else, and I’m enjoying the challenge.

I’m not getting any younger and I refuse to enter my –– gah –– golden years tired, broken, and with my health at risk. If this is the new way of life for me and the key to turning things around, bring it on.