Posts Tagged ‘walking’

The Cholesterol again: Leaves and fishes…

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010


My first cholesterol fright happened on Veteran’s day last year – mid-November. The numbers were frightening, and I’m sure anyone who gets this bloody news at their doctor’s office has experienced the same overwhelming sense of doom that I did that day. It made me run to the pharmacy and buy Lipitor.

The reason for this post is simple: to share with the people reading it that I did not take the Lipitor, or any other statin drug, or any drug at all, and, three months later, here I am, still typing. And that’s not all. I did a blood test last Tuesday, and got the results today. My gains – or should I say losses – are modest. Very modest. But I have managed to slightly lower the numbers with simple stuff . The hardest was quitting cigarettes – which I love. The change in my diet was simple and easy to do. Oats for breakfast make it very easy to watch what you eat the rest for the day – they sit hugely in your belly for hours without budging.  I ate a lot of leaves and fishes. And sprinkled a bit of ground up flax seed on anything I ate, when I remembered. I went for walks – and not religiously. I started out religious, but then eased off on myself. I walked ‘most’ days – which was about four days each week, and between 3 and 5 miles each time. I drank a glass of wine occasionally.  I took Benecol – a vile caramel sweetie that doesn’t kill your liver, but prevents absorption of cholesterol. I took Guggul. But again, not religiously. About three – four times a week.

What I’m saying is, it didn’t take drastic life change, or enormous discipline or constant vigilance. Just an awareness of what I was putting in my mouth, and how often I was just sitting on my ass.

And I may be capable of typing a coherent post today precisely because I didn’t buy the fear mongering from that pharma-pimp of a doctor – I could have lost my memory along with my cholesterol, on a statin drug! No, this has not been proven – but the very idea is terrifying! No?

NOVEMBER 2009 (then) FEBRUARY 2010 (now)
Total Cholesterol 232 (high as shit) 210 (high but not as shit)
Triglycerides 81 (pretty good anyway) 81 (still pretty good)
LDL (bad chol.) 170 (damn that’s high) 151 (hmm… seems a bit high)
HDL (good chol.) 42 (poor) 43 (still poor, but not as poor as 42)

And that’s my story – I hope it helps people to consider not taking statins. My next drug story may be about anti-depressants… (I’m no doctor, just a high school dropout!)

giant steps

Monday, January 25th, 2010



My mother told me once that Werner Herzog walked from Munich to Paris to heal his friend who was very ill. She told me this when her own publisher and close friend fell ill, and wondered if she should begin to walk to Pune from Hong Kong, where she was, and if he would recover by the time she got to him. He got well by himself, and she did not need to make the journey. But she was quite serious, I believe, when she said it. I remembered this story yesterday as I neared the end of my walk. I started going on long walks only after my mother died. I don’t know whether walking long distances will heal a loved one or not, and won’t go too far into the idea that my mother could have been alive today if only I had walked across continents to be by her side.

For one reason and another and another – my cholesterol, my reflection in the bathroom mirror, my burgundy velvet dress that no longer zips up – I have started walking everyday, what seem to me like long distances. Today I thought, when I was done, that from now on I would walk for someone other than myself. That I would dedicate each day’s walk to a person somewhere in the world who was sick, or hungry, or sad, or lonely. I could walk for entire countries. For war-mauled Iraqis, for the citizens in darkness in North Korea, for the starving children of India, for those left in the rubble that is Haiti . The sick parts of the world, and all the sad people in it, are more numerous by far than I have walks, or even steps left in me. But if Werner Herzog is right, and we all walked a little for someone else, maybe we could heal the world.

I am not given to sentimentality, or any kind of spirituality – I just cannot help but feel there is a kind of no-nonsense practicality in this idea. Tomorrow’s walk has a purpose. And at the end of all my walking, even if I heal no one else, I will be a healthy corpse.

The Cholesterol- Part two

Monday, December 7th, 2009


Still alive, see? Without Lipitor!

I have not gone back to get my numbers checked again. I will wait for all the strategies to take effect. I’ve been walking, religiously. The Lake is 0.6 miles around. Three or four miles means I have to walk around five or six times, and though there is plenty to talk and gossip about with my walking partner, and there is a lot of wildlife in that lake to entertain us, it’s dizzying. It’s not really a lake, but a retention pond,  where the runoff water from the heavy rains end up. There really is wildlife there, right in the middle of Tallahassee.

My mother often said she wanted to be a bird after she died. I never thought of her as a cute songbird or as a raptor. I started walking around this lake soon after she died. I saw the great blue heron on one of my earliest walks there.  He was perfect in every way, and had a large scar on one side near his wing. I was immediately convinced that he was in fact my mother, the scar was proof.  It was a mark from the heron’s previous life, in which he had fatally damaged his liver. He still comes, six years on. He walks right up to the gaggle of Muscovy ducklings, picks up one of them in his elegant beak, and swallows it whole. His neck gets a little ungainly as the creature descends into his belly, and when the bulge vanishes, he steps up again to his buffet, and takes another, and so on, till he is full. That’s my mother all right.

Those Muscovies are ugly, and, little signs around the lake inform us, dangerous. They spread disease, are aggressive, produce about a pound of feces each per day, some of which we carry into our cars and homes with our shoes, and worst of all, they mate with native wild species of ducks and turn them into Muscovies! All these things considered, I am grateful for the heron’s contribution to the eradication of these spectacularly ugly creatures.DSC00052



In the spring there are soft shell turtles that go a little spring-silly and start coming out of the lake to find mates or lay eggs. They are big, they resemble the unfortunate Jar Jar Binks, and really do have soft shells, as I found out when I rescued one who had wandered into traffic in search of a mate. He was very heavy, and tried to bite me.

That’s the walking part. Then there are the oats. In the beginning it was awful to eat the goopy matter. But more and more, I find myself looking forward to the warm slurry with a handful of dried blueberries. I have not eaten any red meat or bird (I would put that aside for some Muscovy duck flesh) since the 11th of November, and have consumed so much Mackerel and salmon that I must smell fishy. I’m sure the garlic and olive oil contributes to my general aura as well.  But, all in all, I feel better, and maybe I am getting better too. If not, then not, but I am still adamantly against swallowing statin drugs to bring down those scary numbers.

The smoking, I’ll be honest, is a FAIL. I could easily do it in the next two months, it is football season after all. There are so many ups and downs, and so much of it on the NFL channel, that hours and days could pass before I needed to leave the house to smoke. That one thing will improve my numbers more than any amount of walking, herbal powders, or food. It has to be my next goal. I’m thinking about it. I’m down to two a day, the hard part is to bring that number down – to zero.

And, I could finish my unfinished third book…