Sunday, January 3, 2016

What is my motivation?

have always achieved my goals through motivation and a strong will. Okay, okay, there are plenty of goals I have made in my life and not achieved, but lack of will and motivation wasn't the cause. Now I am at the point where I think neither motivation nor a strong will can help me.

Goal: Reduce cholesterol to normal human levels. 

I am extremely motivated to do this. My marathon running father had a quadruple bypass at age 52, just months after running a race. Many of my cousins from my father's side of the family have had heart attacks under the age of 50. I don't want to end up like that. When another cousin had a heart attack at age 40 last year, I decided to get my cholesterol tested. It was 300. I was shocked and paralyzed with fear. I didn't eat for several days not knowing what was safe to put in my body. Motivation kicked in when my father died soon after that and my cardiologist tried to reassure me by saying, "Don't worry. I've operated on people younger than you." He also said "wdzianko" my least favorite word in Polish thus losing his Hot Doctor title once and for all.

I do not want to leave my children motherless. You'd think that would translate into "I don't want to die", but it really is about sticking around for my kids. It's especially important as we have no extended family to depend on. If it was just me, I'd eat all the bacon and get fat and die. It's my birthright.

Sure, I want to be slim. I absolutely want to be fit. I am quite slim and relatively fit. I don't eat what a heart patient shouldn't. I exercise vigorously, not moderately, my allotted times per week. I don't drink. I don't smoke. So what's up with my cholesterol?

After one year of hard work, my cholesterol is down 25 points to 275. That's great, right? I should be happy with my achievement, and I am. The thing is, my bad cholesterol hasn't budged, not even one point. I'm still motivated, still wanting to stay alive and all that. I am able to just not eat all that stuff I shouldn't. It's not a big deal really. But Jeezuz, what if it isn't enough? I'm going into Year 2 of my cholesterol lowering plan. Let's hope it's enough.

Me on a chilly bike ride :)


czarownica said...

Chris, don't work yourself to death trying to bring your cholesterol down - it's only one of cardiovascular risk factors and even not the most important one! For instance normal blood pressure is much more important.
Have you ever had your individual CVD risk calculated? If not, you may do it here:

If unfortunately you are coming from one of this unlucky families with a familial hypercholesterolaemia or hyperlipidaemia, you may not be able to bring your cholesterol down to the "normal" range as the fault is in your genes. BUT - you've got only half of your dad's genes and you're a woman - these are protecting factors. Don't give up a healthy lifestyle, but don't become mad about it too. Stents, by-passess and medications are there for humans too although you may never need them, which I sincerely wish you :)

Sallie said...

I have been exactly where you are with my cholesterol, Chris. I was in shock when my first cholesterol test showed over 300 when I was in my 40s, not overweight, was exercising regularly, and was already mostly eating the diet recommended for lowering cholesterol. I was so sure the results were wrong that I made them re-do the test. Twice. My dr. at the time was a heart specialist; he told me that my high cholesterol was hereditary and I needed to begin taking statins. When I strongly resisted, he said, "You will take the medication or you WILL have a stroke at some point." It took 3 tries to find the medication that worked for me and I've been taking it ever since with no noticeable side effects. I have my cholesterol levels checked regularly; they are exactly where they need to be and have been for all this time. The bottom line for me was that the statin was preferable to all of the other alternatives, especially when I realized those alternatives would put me in the hospital and possibly have way more severe side effects than the statin! Good luck!

lowiczki_abroad said...

I guess I am an absolute ignorant, but how the hell you can have a high cholesterol, you're so tiny, so slim! Maybe it is a name of your blog (kielbasa) that pumps this extra cholesterol in your body :-)))

Anonymous said...

Hey Chris,

I have been reading your blog regularly for the last [OMG] years (almost since the beginning), but I rarely leave any comments (that would be my... 3rd?). I am rather critical of what you do and how you live, but I recognize and support your right to live your life the way you want to. Cheers!

But there is one thing I will support you in unconditionally! Take control of your life and your NUMBERS, your loved ones depend on YOU and these numbers. You are not alone, and until your girls are on their own, you have to find a drive to improve your health. Stay healthy and post an update once in a while.

Best wishes in 2016! Stay strong!


Chris said...

czar - You put me at ease. Thank you. If you promise not to use the word wdzianko, you can be my doctor ;) I took the risk calculator as you suggested and my risk of stroke and/or heart attack in the next 10 years came out to .7%. As you said, all the other things I've got good such as blood pressure, sugar, weight, and so on.

You are right in that I get that high cholesterol from my genes. There's no other explanation especially when my triglycerides are low, low, low. You sound like my doctor when you say that stents, etc are for people ;) My cousin who had a heart attack at 40 got a stent. I too hope I will never need any of those things and will continue in my quest to improve my results, but without getting mad. You could tell I am a little crazy about it, couldn't you?

Chris said...

Sallie - Thanks for sharing your story, another skinny minnie with high cholesterol. I am holding off on the meds till I am sure there's no other alternative. My friend started his statins when his cholesterol levels reach 400. However his bad cholesterol was lower than mine. That's why I keep such a close eye on the bad level. It's still below the threshold my doctor uses for starting statins, and I am giving myself another year to see what diet and exercise can do. I'm really glad that you have found medication that keeps your levels in check without side effects. That's really important. Thanks again for sharing.

Chris said...

lowicki abroad - The kielbasa in Kielbasa Stories in the only answer to this cholesterol mystery. I know it is terrible to say, living in the kielbasa capital and having a blog with kielbasa in the title, but I don't eat it! Only once a year in the holiday Bigos, and to the disappointment of my family I only put one sausage in the whole pot of Bigos.

Chris said...

Hey Anon -

Thank you for the support. I will be sure to post updates. The most difficult part of my quest is that I am a healthy person. It was a miracle for me to lower my numbers 25 points not losing any weight. We'll see what happens in Year 2 of my plan.

Now, I'm trying to remember critical comments or controversial posts of mine. Probably something about religion, right?

slawekk said...

My favorite cholesterol fighting dish is a simplified guacamole: mashed avocado with olive oil, lemon juice and a clove of garlic, plus salt and pepper or cayenne of course. Use as a spread on bread with tomatoes (when in season) and grated Parmesan. Good avocados used to be almost impossible to get in Poland, but now Lidl sometimes has ready-to-eat Hass, and also Fuerte(?) that are stone-hard when bought, but ripe in about 4 days without rotting. I don't have a good source for EVOO (anybody knows about one?), but for now I trust Kalamata brand (Greek), avoid Italian.

Chris said...

Slawekk - Thanks for the avocado idea. It sounds delicious. I'll try out Lidl because I often buy avocados and then miss the ripeness window. I'm not an EVOO expert, but I often find interesting stuff at So we're keeping our arteries clean. Now if we could only do the same thing with the air.

Anonymous said...

Chris wrote:
Now, I'm trying to remember critical comments or controversial posts of mine. Probably something about religion, right?

We all are entitled to opinions. Whether agreeable or not is up for discussion. What is not up for discussion is if we should be tolerant of those. We should, we must.