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Fitter By 50 with Poppy Potter; The Numbers Don’t Lie

This is the day I have been waiting for…learning the results from my second round of bloodwork after 90 days of some major dietary changes.  This period has been a real experiment to see what kind of changes can happen internally when I changed nothing more than what I was eating and drinking.  I did not increase my exercise…I left that at a consistent zero (for experiment purposes, of course) and I did not take any medication.  I did take a multi-vitamin to ensure I was getting all my proper nutrients and I also took mushroom extract everyday to boost my immune system.

I gave up all added sugar including alcohol.  I gave up carbs, gluten, and dairy.  It was NOT easy.  In fact, at times it was quite difficult.  In my husband’s line of work, we entertain a lot and take people to restaurants or attend events 3-5 times per week.  I have also been traveling a bit and spending time with friends in places where the food and alcohol flow freely and frequently.  In all of these situations, I have remained diligent (albeit a little cranky and whiny).  In fact, it is kind of a running joke in the restaurants we regularly visit that the waiters don’t even ask me what I am ordering anymore because they all already know…water, salad (dressing on the side), salmon, and asparagus.

I got a lot of “I feel sorry for you” looks and lots of questions about how long am I planning to stick this out but the most important thing I have gotten is SUPPORT.  Without fail, every single person we shared meals with, servers who waited on us frequently, and all of my friends were very supportive and encouraging and did not pressure me in any way to give in or cheat just a little.  That support was crucial for me to stay strong.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t cheat at all.  I cheated a total of five times in this 90 day period when I succumbed to cheesecake, cinnamon rolls, sea salt caramels, and a Club Sandwich with French Fries.  With the exception of the club sandwich, all of those cheats came while I was by myself and shopping in the grocery store.  I learned valuable lessons from those cheats…first, I need to stay away from grocery stores!  No, seriously, I absolutely can’t go in a grocery store.  Tell my husband.  It’s a real thing.  Second, sometimes I have to fall off the wagon to remember why I got on the wagon in the first place.  After eating those foods, I did NOT feel satisfied and in some cases, I even felt sick.

I want to also be clear that I did not, at any time, stop eating (other than prescribed intermittent fasting).  This experiment was not about calorie intake or losing weight but about improving my body chemistry and learning how to better use food as fuel rather than a flight of fancy.  In fact, I probably ate more than I should have, eating 8 oz. portions of Salmon instead of 4 oz. portions but puh-leeez…one thing at a time!

So did it work?  That’s the million dollar question!  And one I have been anxiously awaiting the answer to…because believe me, as I told my doctor, Karly Powell, “If these numbers haven’t improved after all the changes I have made, I’m leaving here and going straight to the bar and the bakery!”  Her reply… “You are going to be so stoked!” (you have to love a doctor that uses the word, “stoked”).

So the answer is YES…the numbers improved…and they improved A LOT!  I will focus on two numbers in particular as examples.  The first is Triglycerides.  Triglyceride is not the name of the scary dinosaur from Jurassic Park but it can do as much damage.  High Triglycerides contribute to hardening of the arteries or thickening of the artery walls which increases the risk of stroke, heart attack, and heart disease.  After 90 days of dietary changes, my Triglycerides dropped by 41%!  Uh huh.  That’s right.  You heard me.  FORTY ONE PERCENT!

The other number we were watching closely was the LDL-small particles.  Many people are familiar with LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad cholesterol” and the damage it can do to your heart health.  However, more studies are now finding that it isn’t only the quantity of LDL circulating in the blood that matters, it is the quality too.  There are two kinds…a larger, sometimes referred to as “fluffy” particle that is considered to be protective and that number is one you want to see high.  Then there is the small, dense LDL that is considered to be an emerging risk factor for cardiovascular disease because those small, heavy particles can break off and penetrate the walls of arteries increasing the risk of developing atherosclerosis.  That is a number you want to see small.

After the dietary changes I made, my LDL small particles decreased by 52%!  YUP!  FIFTY TWO PERCENT!  I was shocked.  By simply making changes to my diet, I was able to dramatically improve my body chemistry in as little as three months (I also dropped 3% of my body weight).  Those three months may have seemed like an eternity at the time, but now, armed with real results and seeing actual huge improvements, I’m ready to tackle the next three months.

Stay tuned as we add in some strength training with Strata’s Superman Steve and I address some chronic pain issues with chiropractor Shane Wells, whom I like to refer to as The Magic Man.

Until then, I’m Poppy Potter getting Fitter by Fifty!