As I close in on my fourth decade on this earth, I realize it’s time to start getting serious about my health. I’ve made some incremental improvements to my health after getting my first kidney stone 5 years ago.
However, most of those changes focused on my diet, which went from horrific to embarrassing. As I approached my late thirties, I certainly wasn’t eating like a teenager anymore, but I also wasn’t eating like a responsible adult. Far too much sugar (my one and only vice) and far too few fruits and vegetables. My sedentary life and unhealthy diet began to show up on my scale and on my waistline.
Time to Visit the Doctor
I also hadn’t had a yearly physical for close to 2 decades. My justification was as long as I could keep my weight within a reasonable range (below 165 on my 5’10” frame) I didn’t need to go to the doctor.
As I crept closer to 170 I knew I had to do something to get myself back down to a “healthy weight”. I attempted being a vegetarian for about a month, but I just couldn’t get myself back down below 165. In fact, I surpassed 170 and eventually tipped the scales at 173 before I scheduled a physical.
The physical went as expected: cut down the sugar and carb, lose some belly fat and build some muscle. I was a little surprised that my doctor wasn’t a fan of a vegetarian diet, but if he’s going to tell me to eat meat, who am I to argue.
He left me with a list of changes to make: add bodyweight exercises to my week, give intermittent fasting another shot, and add some vitamins to my new low carb, low sugar diet. Then it was off to have my blood drawn for the tests he wanted to run.
All in all, I felt pretty good about things. The changes I had to make were things I already knew. Over the next few days, I started intermittent fasting again. Adding fruits and vegetables to my diet. I even started doing a few push-ups.
The Blood Work Results
The next week I received a voicemail message from the nurse. It was the “call us back as soon as possible” type of message with a certain amount of panic in her voice. I obliged and learned that I was at high risk of having a heart attack. My doctor added Niacin to my list of vitamins to take and wanted to see me in 6 months.
Logically I knew that with my family history, I was at risk of heart disease. But there was something alarming about getting a message like this. My paltry attempts at having a salad or two and doing a few push-ups didn’t seem to fit with the concern in nurses voice or with the message she was relaying.
Drastic Changes Ahead
- Despite my doctor’s wishes, I switched from a mostly vegetarian diet to a mostly vegan diet. (I’ll eat meat or animal products if I go out to a restaurant to eat, but at home, I only eat a whole plant based diet: fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.).
- I opened that Couch to 5K app that I’d downloaded 6 months ago and went for my first run. (It didn’t go well.)
- I started counting my calories for the first time in my life.
- I set some exercise goals and began tracking my progress (again for the first time in my life).
- I started a second attempt at Intermittent Fasting, but this time with a very specific goal in mind: Get down to 155 lbs, 18 lbs less than my highest weight.