Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentines 2016, my top 5 ways of keeping my physical heart healthy, and a photo of me outrunning my fork!!!

 Happy Valentines Day

Here's how I keep my physical heart healthy. There's no real reason not to manage the modifiable variables of heart health. ZERO. If you can make a difference in your food and exercise templates- no magic fairy is going to arrive and fix this stuff. Get a mirror, look in it. Grab a home glucose meter and your recent blood work. Yeah! There's your magic fairy. Looking right back at you, with stone cold hard data!!!

(note- some things are not modifiable like aspects of AFIB or inherited cholesterol diseases, inherited blood clotting diseases. auto-immune disease that doesn't respond to diet modification- that just stinks, my blog post is about the modifiable risks)

We all control what goes inside our bodies - food, exercise, self monitoring, start there. No excuses. Just action. SMART goals.

1. I keep track of my hs-CRP  (blood inflammation marker)  normal = 0-3, I stay around 1.5 or lower. Inflammation from food or lifestyle. Removing sugars and grains had my hs-CRP going from 6.8 to 1.5 or below. Big difference in lowering my heart attack risk. hs-CRP can be really silent, so it's up to you and your doctor to look at the causes of inflammation and modifications that are effective. Life post auto-immune disease, I've been able to keep all that in check.

2. I keep track of my glucose levels periodically.
I can inadvertently get higher glucose readings, even with a LCHF food template if I swing a little bit to more fruit or higher carb within the food template. It's a glucose, 2 hr post, that will stay high.  I'll go to bed with that  glucose being high, even after a brisk walk. Pesky, but I control what goes into my pie hole, so I claim responsibility over keeping my glucose in check. It's not hard, but I cannot be an ostrich.

I can't change my genetics, but I can input food that keeps my diabetes risk low, and that will keep my heart health optimal.  Get a home glucose monitor. Measure fasting and 2 hour post levels. Make changes that keep your glucose optimal.  OMG- I'm my own magic fairy. Awesome. ;)

Jan 2016
3. I walk 11,000 to 15,000+ steps per day, at a low or moderate pace.  Yeah, walking, not running or super fast walking. Really. Chronic cardio from super fast run/walking really increases my visceral fat, it's NOT heart healthy for me.  My genetics don't lend themselves to long, drawn out, high intensity cardio.  Check out the photo at the bottom of the page.  Which one looks more heart healthy to you? That massive tire around my middle- gone.  My genetics do lend themselves to sprinting. So I do that, Tabata sprinting 2-3 times weekly.

Our bodies will let us know.

Feb 2016 herb garden, the mint wants to take over
4. I practice my favorite hobbies regularly- photographing the costal areas.   Yeah! I'm walking anyway, so lots of opportunity to combine walking with photography.  Gardening is great, although I do less than I'd like due to water restrictions and time.

5. I eat natural fat. Think avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, coconut milk, grass-fed beef. Wow, I feel so good after I eat grass fed beef. Top some grass-fed beef with some guacamole, salsa, onions, in butter lettuce leaves.  Or hey, some brisket from Whole foods with a salad. Super simple, super tasty. Low carb, higher natural fat. Tastes great.

Well, I can tell you, that my post menopause body really appreciates having some building blocks for hormone balance and for mineral absorption.  Rather than have the heart disease cholesterol, I have high amounts of good cholesterol. And my doctor gets it. She understands and agrees, my heart attack risk is low.  Now , some of that is genetic- low A-Fib
risk is a nice start.

Encintias,CA beach cottage living

Okay, here's what didn't work when I was moderating all the food and marching mightily to diabetes and heart disease.

1. Grains and sugars and even dairy elevated my hs-CRP. I also had joint pain. Massive, joint pain.  And acne, worse than when I was a teen. Totally reversible. And preventable. Knowing the inflammation signs, taking action on hs-CRP all were my choice.

2. Glucose. I knew that my HA1c and fasting glucose were nearly pre-diabetic level  in 2011. In fact, had I gone to see the doctor in early 2011, I would have likely been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. Pre-diabetes IS diabetes.

 I knew that eating sugar wasn't working. I foolishly thought I'd go ahead and take action only when I needed to do so via blood work. Yikes. This is not a great plan, yet the disease of food addiction will use any means to keep itself alive.
I had high fasting glucose- just barely under 100, HA1c that were raising every year- 5.7%,  morbid obesity, a great deal of visceral fat.
Jan 2010, chronic cardio, visceral fat, fork outrunning din't work

3. Walking super fast and training to walk a half Marathon. I thought I would get super slim. I got super inflamed and got a huge middle layer of visceral fat and a bad case of plantar faciitis.

You cannot outrun your fork. Just saying....  The damage from grains and high carbs. Oh, Me. I lived. Walking a half was not my best heart health move. Of course, I was a mighty WW points counter. Kashi, whole grains, low fat Starbucks muffins (yo! I just walked many miles, my body needs this and it fits my points very well, oh high fiber muffins and coffee, lordy!....)

I did meet fantastic friends. That was one great thing about the half marathon. :)

4. Hobbies: I sat on the couch and ate low points skinny cows and watched Biggest Loser. I still photographed, but tide pool hopping and super long moderate hikes were way out of the question.

5. Natural fat. It was going to make me fat. I was so afraid of avocados. BEEF, so many WW points. No way were eggs going to be okay, egg whites or Kashi cereal, or whole grain waffles with blueberries and cool whip. Oh, more cool whip. Oh what the heck, half a tub of cool whip lite was on sale and fits my points. Wheeeeeeee!!!!! I'm heart healthy. Because oatmeal, with equal sweeter and skim milk.  Whole grain fiber is soooooooo good for me.  Dang, I was brainwashed pretty well.  Oh, but the American Heart Association, they are on my side, right? The DASH diet, it's low fat, yeah, because that's clearly going to help my heart.  OMG.

Except I had my head in the sand. Good thing I did not let me get me. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. If I were taking simple monitoring steps, I could have taken action much sooner.

Here's to taking our heads out of the sand and improving our heart health with real, measurable SMART goals. Ditch the old way of thinking. You'll need your heart for long term good health. I can't tell you how happy I am planning vacations instead of sick care with my doctor.

Onward. Make sure your data matches your outcomes. Gather the courage to set down what makes us have high visceral fat. That's heart healthy. Happy Valentine's Day, no grains or sweets required. Find your inner magic fairy and you'll find your heart health, too.


  1. One of my biggest health lessons I have learned is how much lifting weights (and heavier weights at that) helps my blood pressure. High intensity cardio does, as well. I take blood pressure medication and will always do so, and I find that when I exercise more regularly and lift weights I get readings of 110/115 over 65/75. I have limited my exercise lately post surgery to encourage proper healing, and I have had higher readings in the 120s and low 80s. So lifting is important in my life. And it's not necessary for me to kill myself at the gym. But doing somethjng is helpful.

    I also find that cardio and lifting helps my anxiety level. I have missed having the chance to do some more HIT work on the arc trainer. I am looking forward to getting back to that in about two weeks. I still have some more healing to do.

    Not being dependent on exercise for weight maintenance has been freeing though. I do like how exercise makes me toned, and for me it really does hell with weight loss, but I am not as dependent on it as I once was. I mentioned that before here, but that is just huge for me.

    And I agree that I don't need a huge box of chocolates for Vakentine's Day. I don't even want that. The way to my heart is through books!

    1. Ali, thanks Yes, strength training should be required as part of a all weight loss programs. Better metabolisms, glucose metabolism and functions, bone health, mental and emotional aspects. Everyone varies on cardio helping or not- I think Dr. Berkeley said she needs an hour of sweat producing activity to maintain.

      It all boils down to our genetics and environment. Glad you've been able to navigate without exercise. If I have to face not exercising, I know I could manage okay since I don't exercise to eat. Valuable skill, one that most do not master and end up regaining. Bravo!!! Huge learning that will take you far into maintenance.

  2. Meant to write "help with weight loss," not what I wrote there! Sorry for that typo!!!

  3. I was just thinking yesterday how I think of your before pictures as a whole different person than you are now. I don't think of her unkindly. It is like two totally different people with the same name.

    1. Yes, Vickie- whole different looking person. And thinking. Shrink told me "When cycle of addiction ends in a family, the whole family dynamic changes". She was so right. I'd get food sober again just to be able to set good boundaries and have functional relationships.

      My kid ran away from me in a hotel lobby once- didn't recognize me when I sat next to her her on a sofa... LOL. In many ways, I'm far away mentally and physically from that person in the photo. Some things are still the same.

  4. Thanks for this wonderful blog that helps anchor me....and I love your great photos too.

    1. Katie, thank you. Once I owned how much I played the biggest role in me getting and staying well- it was shocking. The courage to not listen to the eat bread every day was key. Hard to go against the grain so to speak. But oh so rewarding. Answers were inside me all the time.

      I love photography. :) Thanks again. Now If I could apply for time lost on the elliptical and practicing chronic cardio... LOL. Stopping to photograph on my walks keeps my pace low/moderate. Win-Win.

  5. Do you take a statin? I've been reading lately that they are actually very harmful. I've been on one for years and am wondering if that is a good idea.
    I love your blog and am very inspired by your experience.

    1. Hi Gigi, no, I don't take a statin. Even with my higher than normal cholesterol, the doc can see that my ratio's and my other metabolic markers are great. I had to get an in-depth small ion mobility panel because my health insurance started to doc me $$ for having total high (good cholesterol). I got little bit of money back from that and the insurance company changed their standards and started looking at different blood markers. Sigh.

      Good luck and thanks for stopping by the blog.

  6. Your hsCRP should be <0.9. 1.5 is way too high


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