Posted on October 24, 2011
After years of eating whatever I wanted with minimal consequences (a developing attractive paunch the primary exception) I recently had a reality check. As part of my leaving Raytheon to work at home with Karina I had to go about setting up some life insurance as it would no longer be provided by Raytheon (among other preparations for working from home, such as finding the right pair of fuzzy slippers). It turns out that leaving to work at home could potentially have saved me years of living (in all seriousness I believe this could be another reason God led me to this decision). I would have continually gone on oblivious to the fact that my heart could very well be crafting a white flag to be deployed anytime.
Now, this may surprise you, but I may have exaggerated the impending doom slightly. Part of the process for obtaining life insurance is to provide a blood sample for analysis. Another part is answering 347 questions about every time I coughed and whether my hobbies include anything dangerous such as skydiving, motorcycle riding, or crocheting (needles!!). I was granted the life insurance policy which was nice as it meant the life insurance company is betting I survive another 20 years. It’s always good to have those greedy 1% folks reassuring me I’m gonna make it…a while longer. I decided I wanted to see my blood test results to settle my own curiosity. Turns out I am glad I did!
Most of my results verified what I felt, that I am a reasonably healthy 31 year old. However, in the section about heart risks which includes cholesterol and triglycerides my results were off the charts…and not in a good way. Specifically, my triglycerides were WAY off. For those of you unaware with this term, triglycerides are not something an old prospector would use to blow a hole in a mine. Rather, it is a measure of fat in the blood. The expected range for a healthy person is somewhere between 10 and 200 units of whatever the measurement is. My level of 583 registers somewhere between “very high” and “tell those important to you that you love them” (incidentally, I believe the cream inside a Twinkie comes in around 600).
It turns out that Triglycerides are extremely diet sensitive. And considering I did not watch my diet in the least for the last few years I was not surprised to see a problem there. In fact, the only time I looked at nutrition labels on food was when I happened upon them in search of the barcode while in the self-checkout line. When I went to the movies, my literal request from the snack bar was a large popcorn with as much butter as you can legally give me (turns out they can legally give you A LOT). I’ve ruined many a shorts by setting those popcorn bags on my lap in the theater. Additionally I enjoyed whole milk with my scrumptious cinnamon toast crunch every morning.
In the interest of improving my health and living to see myself pay for my kid’s college and weddings (wait a minute…) I decided to modify my diet in an effort to bring down my heart risk factors. Turns out all of the “diet” food I had vigorously avoided all these years isn’t as bad as I thought. I always hated Sweet & Low because anytime I eat something with Sweet & Low my mouth tastes like I’ve been sucking a penny for the next 5 hours. Thankfully, I found Splenda which is delicious! And I’ve found healthier alternates for some of the junk I would eat. For example, instead of a bowl of ice cream at night I have 60 calorie cups of vanilla pudding. And it turns out carrots make a good substitute for French fries (I imagine that I will eventually convince myself of this as long as I keep telling it to myself…that’s just a theory of course).
I’ve also started reducing the amounts of food that I eat. Normally I’d eat until the food was gone or my stomach cried “uncle”. Now I am trying to eat more reasonably sized meals. Not only is this helping with the old waistline but it turns out eating less IS CHEAPER!! And if anything serves as motivation to me, it is saving a dollar or two. As a matter of fact, now that I think of it, rather than going to Subway for a healthy sandwich (without a sugary drink or side of chips) I think I may just eat the $5 bill and save the gas money. I’d be getting plenty of fiber and a $5 bill can’t taste as bad as a penny, can it?