Cholesterol Spreadsheet

arteryI believe that you manage what you measure and I have spreadsheets for practically everything. This week I added one to keep track of my cholesterol. 😉

Since turning 50 I’ve tried to get in for a physical every year, including bloodwork. I’ve been particularly interested in my cholesterol since I started eating more low-carb (ie. high-fat) last year.

Indeed, my cholesterol went up from 214 last year to 229. And my LDL (bad) went from 117 to 138. However, my HDL (good) went from 68 to 76 and my triglycerides went from 145 to 76 – which is pretty dramatic and it might have to do with the fact that last year my bloodwork was non-fasting and this year it was fasting. From now on I’ll make sure to keep it consistently fasting.

Anyway, despite the increase in cholesterol and LDL, my ratios all improved and are, apparently, ideal. 🙂 Here are a couple of websites with cholesterol information and calculator:

http://www.hughcalc.org/chol.php
http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/cholesterol-facts-vs-myths

My doctor, however, wants me to come in for a CIMT scan (Carotid Intima Media Thickness) to assess my vessels for plaque. I’m going to oblige her. My cholesterol is technically high and, although I believe my excellent ratios are indicative that everything’s good, I’d like confirmation regarding the state of my arteries. I hope I’m right!!

Cottage Cheese and Fruit – Low Carb Snack

cottage cheese pineappleI used to eat this years ago – before the food pyramid came out and tricked everyone into thinking that carbs were good and fat was bad. No wonder obesity got worse. Unbelievable!

Anyway, I’ve been enjoying it again for either a snack or for lunch. I buy the highest fat cottage cheese I can, while trying to get it on sale or with a coupon. And I prefer canned, crushed pineapple. It’s also good with fresh strawberries, which are even lower carb.

So easy and tasty!

Low Carb Recipe – Roasted Squash

squashLike beets, squash is not a freebie when it comes to low carb eating. But if you’re craving carbs or want a substitute for regular carbs (ie. pasta, rice, bread), squash is a good choice.

My favorites are acorn and butternut. They are very easy to prepare:

– cut in half and scrape out the seeds
– score with a sharp knife
– wrap in aluminum foil
– bake on cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 60-90 mins, depending on size
– add some butter and maple syrup

Yum!

Thoughts On Exercise

triangle poseIn his book, The 100, Jorge Cruise states that it’s not necessary to exercise in order to lose weight! I heartily agree. Some people probably find burning calories inspirational. I am not one of them. Swimming for half a mile probably wouldn’t burn off the Vietnamese coffee I have at breakfast. Neither would an hour of yoga or a two mile walk. No, I have to focus on a myriad of other reasons to find the inspiration to exercise:

 

– strength
– balance
– overall health
– tone
– flexibility
– interest
– time to think
– satisfaction

When swimming, I alternate between the front crawl and the breast stroke. I imagine my arms getting toned, and my quads gaining strength (which helps, I believe, my weak knees). With nothing to do except count laps, I find myself thinking of ideas for my blog, writing projects and things to do.

In yoga, I know I’m building strength, flexibility and balance. I enjoy the company of my yoga instructor and the class. I’ve made a friend, too. Carol’s short and a little stocky and she amazes me every time I see her, because she’s my mother’s age and here she is doing chaturanga dandasana, up dog, down dog, triangle pose, all the warriors…

Going for a walk or a bike ride, usually with a friend or family member, gives me an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery here in Colorado. It provides me with interesting relationship building conversation. If I’m alone, it gives me the opportunity to think. I’m not a huge music person and far prefer my own thoughts to listening to an iPod. Music is enjoyable, but it crowds out any chance to be creative or solve problems.

Even when I don’t feel particularly motivated and have to talk myself into going to a class or to the pool, I’m always (and I mean always) glad that I did. I’m proud of myself and get a lot of satisfaction from having participated. I am, at my core, a bit sedentary. I could read and write all day. But I don’t want to be someone who just reads and writes all day.

Which brings me to the final reason for exercising. I believe the fact that I do yoga and swim and go for bike rides and hikes make me a more interesting, a more well rounded person. I’m no athlete. I don’t go heli-skiing or white water kayaking or run half marathons (let alone a half mile). I don’t even like to work out hard enough to sweat. But I DO exercise and I am in decent shape and I hope to be like Carol when I’m 76 (though taller and, yes, a little less stout, although I’d take that over skinny bird legs, no strength, and osteoporosis). 😉

The last thing I think about is how many calories I might be burning.

Feta Cheese, Greek Olives, Olive Oil and Rosemary – Low Carb Snack

feta olivesI got this idea after I’d made an appetizer using a small block of feta, drizzled with a mixture of sliced greek olives, olive oil and fresh rosemary. I served it with crackers. But, I thought, if you take away the crackers it becomes low carb. Instead of a block of feta, use crumbled feta. Stir/mash the cheese, olive oil, olives and rosemary in a small bowl or cup and eat with a fork.

Very yummy and flavorful!

A Typical Grocery Receipt

buy 10 save 5We were low on milk and bananas and I had to make a quick trip to King Soopers. I bought 14 items:

– Land o’ Lakes half and half. At $2.99 it’s cheaper than the King Soopers brand, plus it was also on sale for $2.79. Savings = 20¢
– Frank’s Hot Sauce. Regularly $5.39, it was on sale for $3.49, plus I had a 35¢ coupon which was matched. Savings = $2.60
– Two gallons of skim milk. Regularly $2.99, they were on sale for $2.79. Savings = 40¢
– one lb butter. Regularly $3.29, it was on sale for $2.50, plus I had a coupon for 40¢. Savings = $1.19
– Two packs bacon. Regularly $3.99, they were on sale for $3.79, plus they were part of a buy 4 get $1 off each promotion. Savings = $2.40
– Two containers of goat cheese. Regularly $2.59, they were on sale for $2.39, plus they were part of the promotion. Savings = $2.40
– Two acorn squashes. Not on sale.
– One bunch beets. Not on sale.
– Two dozen eggs. Not on sale.
– Five and a half lbs bananas. Not on sale.

Total savings of $9.19, which was 20% off the total order. (Can you tell I’m eating low carb? The bananas were for Jay.)

Low Carb Mexican

fajitasGoing out for lunch/dinner can be tricky when trying to eat low carb. We went to our favorite Mexican restaurant last week and I managed really well. I didn’t eat any tortilla chips. I ordered chicken and steak fajitas, which were prepared with peppers and onions, accompanied by guacamole, sour cream, salsa, refried beans and tortillas. I ate everything but the beans and tortillas.

Delicious AND low carb! And I didn’t feel like I was depriving myself at all.

Low Carb Recipe – Roasted Beets

roasted beetsBeets are not freebies when it comes to low carb eating. But if you’re craving carbs or want a substitute for regular carbs (ie. pasta, rice, bread), beets are a good choice. And they are oh so tasty! It seems I never cook enough.

 

ROASTED BEETS

3-4 beets, quartered or cut into smaller slices to cook faster
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Place the beets in a baking dish and toss with the oil, salt and pepper.
Transfer to the oven and roast until tender and browned, between 30 – 90 mins, depending on how thick you’ve cut them.

Low Carb Recipe – Brussels Sprouts, Garlic and Bacon

brussel sproutsAs I’ve recently reported, I’m eating low carb (or at least lower carb) and I thought I’d share some of the recipes I’m making.

This is another of my favorite dishes. I make LOTS because it disappears quickly. Again, per the rules in Jorge Cruise’s The 100 this qualifies as no carbs/sugar calories!

INGREDIENTS

  • lots of Brussels Sprouts, chopped, or quartered or separated into leaves
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, chopped up
  • 2 pieces of bacon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in large skillet. Add garlic and bacon when hot. Add Brussels sprouts and stir around until coated. Reduce heat and sauté until tender, stirring occasionally. I like to cook mine until the leaves and the garlic get crispy. Salt and pepper to taste. Decide who gets the bacon…

Oatmeal Deal

oatmealI posted recently about switching back to oatmeal (Old Fashioned Quaker) from steel cut oats. Along with saving carbs, I’ll be saving money, too. The least expensive steel cut oats I could find were the Red Mill’s brand, at $2.49 (when it is RARELY on sale at King Soopers) for a 24 oz bag. A 42 oz container of Quaker oatmeal is regularly priced at $5.59, which I would never pay a) because it comes on sale regularly, and b) Target’s regular price is $3.99.

Anyway, a container of Quaker oats lasts three, maybe four, times as long as a bag of steel cut oats – so, trust me, I’ll be saving money, albeit not much.

And I’ll be saving even more when I take advantage of promotions, like the current “Buy 5, Save $5”, in conjunction with a sale. Quaker Oatmeal is currently on sale for $3.99 and it is also a participating item in the Buy 5 promotion. If I buy 5 I save an additional $5, making each one cost $2.99.

That makes a bowl of oatmeal, what, 18 cents? And it’s healthy.