Thursday, February 13, 2014

Triglycerides, part 2 -- what I did next

After the appointment with the doctor, I alternated between being mad at the world and generally feeling sorry for myself.  Why did it have to be ME, the foodie, the person who has loved food all her life and made a passion out of cooking, to be the one with heart-attack level triglycerides?  (Well, DUH.)
I knew of course that this approach wasn't helping.  But I felt stuck.  Three days later, on the airplane on the way to Miami with my younger son to visit my mother, a very heavyset woman came down the aisle during boarding and sat down next to me.  She even needed an extra seat belt.  "The universe is mocking me", I thought bitterly. "I bet her triglycerides are lower than mine."  (See, even another person's obesity is all about me.  I am the consummate narcissist.)

Truth is, I was scared to care again about my food intake, weight, and health. I didn't really know how to stop eating the way I had been. In a bid to support me, my mother helped me out by making low- carb meals during our entire visit. Not typical of our family pattern.  Only for us could she make changes that she is unwilling to make for herself.  Still, old habits remained:  With a gleam in her eye, she would shove an entire veggie loaf at me and say, "eat as much as you want! It is low-calorie."  But better with a veggie loaf than a cheesecake, right?  And I was grateful for the jump-start.

Then when I returned home, I decided to go ahead and do the diet program from the doctor's clinic, because I needed help with this. The program is called Ideal Protein.  

The first week was a bit of a shock to my system. I spiked a slight fever, which the coach told me can happen, because the pancreas is used to high amounts of carbs and it is thrown off when that changes suddenly.  The weekly weigh-ins with the coach and her support and encouragement have been crucial in keeping me on track. 
Then, two weeks into it, the Carb Dreams started.  I would fall asleep at night and dream about huge portions of cake, fries, doughnuts, you name it, and me gorging and then feeling scared that I had done it.  I would wake up feeling chills and dread, then a disoriented relief at realizing that these were only dreams, and I had not just stuffed my face, acting out the simultaneous horror and craving that is addiction.  Maybe this was a natural stage of dieting, but it didn't feel good.  It was primitive fear, the remnants of old bulimia brain pushing through.  I needed to change my outlook to change my eating, and I needed some guidance on doing it.  So I bought the book by Dr. Tran, the originator of Ideal Protein, "Because It's Your Life".  He discusses the entire mindset and imbalance, psychological and physical, that occurs with overeating, and how this is brought back into balance with mindful eating and awareness, as well as a good diet.  He understands the struggles of his patients, especially with women.  He gets it.  This made me trust the process.  So I stuck to it.

Within a few weeks, my body started responding to the weight loss and diet.  The sharp pain I felt in my left heel when walking, especially in the morning, disappeared after I lost 10 pounds.

Back and headache after wearing high heels:  Gone after 15 pounds off.
After 20 pounds: inflammation in my fingers down. I could wear my rings from high school and college days again.

And now, 5 months later, I have lost almost 60 pounds.  My triglycerides went from 463 to 55.  You can see the before and after results here:  

Cholesterol: 228Triglycerides: 463HDL Cholesterol: 28 LDL Cholesterol (not calculated;  triglyceride levels greater than 400 mg/dL invalidate calculated LDL results.)*
* I am not sure what this means, but it seems to underscore how my numbers sucked!

After (end of weight loss):

Cholesterol: 164Triglycerides: 55HDL Cholesterol: 58LDL Cholesterol: 95

Looking back I can see that the conversation with the doctor, the working relationship I have had with my coach, and the connection I felt with what Dr. Tran states in his book, all helped to motivate me to stay on course with the diet.  Our relationships to others will always influence our relationship to food. 

This week, I entered Phase 4 of the diet:  Maintenance.  Eating with enjoyment, but mindful portions and choices. Then one " fun day" per week, planned in advance, where I can eat what I want within reasonable portions.   And back to cooking, but tweaking the recipes to these principles.  
I bought Chef Verati's book of Phase 4 (maintenance phase) recipes, "Taste the Freedom".  I look forward to trying them.  I still love cooking and now I can keep my passion going.And fun day -- can I eat my carbs but not to the point of stuffing myself? Then going back to healthy eating?  That is the challenge now. I want to make it a good one, because my health and life literally depend on it.

As the Buddhists say:  Simple, but not easy.


  1. Wow. Just, wow. Irene, this is so honest and real, and inspiring! Thank you for sharing your journey here. I've seen your photos and you look amazing! Thank you for posting the resources here, too. Congratulations on taking charge of your health and making these changes and getting yourself to a good place! You are an incredible woman and I'm so inspired by you.

  2. Irene! So proud of your healthy changes...the body does have a way of thanking us, eh? Good for you!