Thursday, January 24, 2008

Coming Together

Today was the day!

Six months ago an appointment was scheduled with the cardiologist. The agreement was that I would try lifestyle changes to lower cholesterol and we would discuss the future after a follow-up test today. I think he expected to say "OK, your numbers are too high. It's time to prescribe drugs." I was prepared to reply "No way! I refuse."

Long story short: Numbers are good, he was surprised, I was pleased, another appointment has been scheduled for July to include an optional nuclear stress test just to monitor things.

Here are my lifestyle changes:
1. Eliminate all processed foods.
2. Refuse anything containing partially hydrogenated fat.
3. Limit saturated fat to less than 12 grams per day.
4. Eat a vegetarian diet with the exception of cold water fish.
5. Consume flax seed, almonds and walnuts daily.
6. Break rules 1-5 without guilt when a guest in someone's home.

Julie and I have made some other changes also. About two years ago she took a half-time job so she is off on Fridays and summers. Last year I negotiated an 11 month contract so I am off in June. About two weeks ago I proposed an 11 month contract of 32 hours per week (Monday through Thursday) so I could be off on Fridays also. This would have reduced my salary to a little less than 74% of full time. I was offered the opportunity to continue working 40 hours but work 8 hours per week from home at any time of my choice. I accepted the offer. I try to work 5-7 AM before going to the office and working a regular 8 hour day.

Fridays off for both of us mean more work around home. This summer our major thrust will be landscaping and a garden. I haven't had a garden in 15 years and am looking forward to building raised beds, installing irrigation and doing battle with rabbits, rodents and other hungry critters.

Yesterday I received a phone call asking that I write a master gardener column for the newspaper on the subject of herbs. As part of writing the article I think I'll start an herb garden and put the someday-to-be-finished greenhouse to use for something other than heat and houseplants.

Life seems to be coming together -- Fridays off means time to garden which means good exercise, less stress, better food (all good for the heart), actual experience with high desert gardening so I can write realistic articles -- and time with Julie who makes my heart beat faster.


Blogger Tim Hodgens said...


Great news! I started about a year ago taking off 1 friday per month. Loved it. Then I asked myself why I'm only doing it one day per month? 30 seconds later I started x'ing out fridays "for the duration." Very freeing. Income down. Quality of life up. Definitely a good swap.

Talking about flax, here's what I have started doing. In the morning before my walk I make a pot of coffee and have a piece of toast or two. I sit down and eat the toast and coffee. BUT I don't read anything, go on line, or do anything else. Stress level is non-existent at that point, but when I compare that to how I used to feel after eating some toast and checking my email, etc., it is a significant difference.

Then after the walk and shower, etc., I now make a frappe. Four large dollops of natural unsweetened unflavored yogurt, 1/2 apple, some banana, some brewer's yeast, and a tsp of freshly ground (coffee grinder) flax seed and a handful of blueberries. Have to add a little water to thin it out. Delicious. Healthy. Ever so much more interesting than cold cereal, etc.

And it helps me to easily forego muffins on the way to my office.


1/24/2008 06:29:00 PM  
Blogger Buffalo said...

I never know what to say about posts such as this. "Good for you," seems inadequate and somewhat trite - even though it does convey my sentiment.

1/24/2008 07:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked rule six. Good on ya mate!

1/24/2008 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I'm glad you're hale and hearty and judging from the descriptions in the posts below, hardy too.

1/25/2008 06:26:00 PM  
Blogger MojoMan said...

Great news! I'm glad your numbers are down and that it looks like you were able to pull it off by lifestyle changes. I'm always suspicious when the drug ads on TV say: "When diet and exercise aren't enough." I always wonder if the typical patient just doesn't try hard enough. Keep up the good work! I like your guidelines. Like you, I'd hate to be on any of those drugs for life. I just don't trust the drug companies to tell us the whole story.

1/29/2008 01:19:00 PM  

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