From the Blog

Schrödinger’s Cholesterol

I got a note from my doctor’s office that they have an unfulfilled request for a lipid test. I know just what this is for. My doctor ordered it months ago. But I’m hesitant to go in for this test.

At the beginning of the year, I went in for a slew of doctor and dental appointments. I wasn’t unhealthy, but I wanted to use the health insurance I pay for, and I was due for some tune ups. Three years of avoiding the dentist resulted in cavities, and eating lots of tater tots and gravy resulted in stupid high cholesterol. Like, freak-out-high-cholesterol. And I did. I freaked out.

We made some radical changes to our diet. We cut way back on cheese and full-fat dairy. I practically eliminated fried food. I read labels on everything in the grocery store. We cut back on portion sizes. We heavied up on veggies and seafood, learning new ways to cook at home without using a lot of fat. We already didn’t eat a lot of meat, but we cut back even more. I ate a lot of spinach and oatmeal. A LOT. I had oatmeal coming out the whazoo.

And it worked. I lost 20 pounds. Dave, who had less to lose to begin with, dropped 10. We were dedicated. It helped that we had three weddings to go to over the summer, including our own. I had weeks where I stepped on the scale every day to see I had lost a few more ounces. It was immediate positive reinforcement. An upward spiral.

However. Yes, there is a slight, tiny, “however.” We did a lot of celebrating over the summer. Lots of fantastic meals. Lots of fun events. We didn’t lose our minds, but we didn’t hold back from enjoying ourselves. I wasn’t eating fistfuls of lard, but there’s a lot of buttercream in wedding cake. And eating out was often celebratory, so it felt justified to loosen up a little on our dietary restrictions. I still wasn’t ordering fish & chips or mac & cheese the way I would have a year ago.

I stopped losing weight. I DIDN’T gain anything back, thankfully. We never really stopped eating healthy at home, but we have been less diligent about our portion sizes. We’ve learned plenty of low fat cooking tricks that are now routine instead of a challenge.  So we are still being mindful of what we eat, but since we stopped losing weight, I take that as an indicator that we could try a little harder.

And now, it’s time for a cholesterol test. And I’m hesitant. Earlier in the summer, when the weight was dropping off, I was chomping at the bit to see if my cholesterol was dropping too. But my doctor cautioned me to wait for at least six months to really see the full results of our efforts. So I waited.

It’s been almost ten months. I’ll be disappointed if I haven’t dropped at least 75 points from my cholesterol. I’d be thrilled if I have dropped 100 points. I know that genetics and other factors contribute to cholesterol levels, but in my case I know it’s primarily my diet and what I put in my mouth. I don’t want to game the test by eating super duper wacko healthy just to see my points drop. I want a real indicator of how I am doing.

And yet, I don’t. It’s both comfortable and fretful to be ignorant. Without knowing for sure, I can have high expectations and be disappointed in myself at the same time.

Holy crap, I think I just figured myself out.


  1. If the scale was a good judge of cholesterol, my 300lb self wouldn’t have an LDL of 87.

    Get your butt to the doctor, young lady.

  2. I do the same thing, but it always feels better to get it over and move on. And who knows? It might be a good result!

  3. Please find out.

    Spoken by someone who considered herself a pretty healthy eater, and who was lucky to have 3 nearly clogged coronary arteries found… And lucky to have gotten 3 stents, before having a heart attack.

    No matter how hard it is to find out…. If cholesterol is building [or built] in your arteries, it can get you. Please find out.

    Gentle hugs…

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