Thursday, June 18, 2009


Family health history is not necessarily on my side.

In spite of inheriting my mother's lanky proportions, I've inherited high cholesterol tendencies from both sides of my gene pool.

Thanks, Mom and Dad.

It hit me in my mid-30s. I'd been steadily surfing along for years with cholesterol levels somewhere in the 170s (I don't recall breakdowns being important then), until one summer my total weighed-in at 195. It wasn't too alarming considering the test had been done the day after I'd spent 8 hours at the Great Minnesota Get Together* noshing everything from deep-fried cheese curds to pork chops on a stick. It would be back to normal the following summer.

Except it wasn't. 206 that time.

Then 219.

It climbed steadily. Somewhere in the midst of the 230s, my doctor at the time asked could you exercise more? My life at the time included somewhere around 200 racing and training miles per week.

Could I exercise more?!? I looked at her squarely what! you a crazy woman?!? we'd just had the discussion about my "needing to maintain a healthy body weight" in the midst of my telling her I was eating everything under the sun because my life at the time included somewhere around 200 racing and training miles per week. I couldn't keep weight on. My grocery bills had doubled. My life was cycling, driving to cycling events, and logging my cycling.

Could you exercise more?

I tried hard not to give her my exasperated ER-DUH look.

NO. I can't. It's still my most satisfying answer to any question I've ever been asked.

Three years ago with life well back to normal, my cholesterol total topped out at 247. My current doctor wasn't worried, however. Taking into account my lifestyle and that my HDL was somewhere off the charts in the 80s, she explained ratios: ratio of HDL to LDL, ratio of HDL to total cholesterol. My ratios were low, a good thing, but it's still something I watch.

I was amused by test results the following summer, done three days after returning from a week-long bicycle tour along the coast of Michigan. 70-80 miles a day for six days returned a total cholesterol level of 217. It was an interesting aha: all I had to do was ride 450 miles a week.


That's a relief.

Somehow I missed last year's test...probably had breakfast before heading to the doctor and forgot to schedule a follow-up lab test. This morning, however, I got the results of my latest: 176. All my numbers are within acceptable ranges.

Clean livin'.

Well, or they got my results confused with someone else's.

- The skeptical Old Bag after all, it was a busy morning at the doctor's office....

*Minnesotans love their state's an odd thing


LimesNow said...

On an exceedingly rare outing to the Fremont Street Experience in old, downtown Las Vegas, I was reminded that I don't get off the farm much. There is a den of gastronomic iniquity with eye-burning dayglo painted banners inviting folks to chow down on fried oreos, fried Twinkies, fried ice cream and fried pizza. This was only slightly less scary than the hordes of people lined up to buy and eat that stuff!

rlove2bike said...

I too come from bloodlines of very high cholesterol and you are doing much better than I. I tried to avoid the medication, but to no avail. It sounds as if you have a good handle on it.

juancho said...

Clean living ain't easy.

The Old Bag said...

@Limes -- BLECK! I'm amazed at what people will eat. Here at the state fair, they'll put anything "on a stick" and people will eat it up.

@Rlove -- like I said, I'm skeptical, but in the past year I started taking a couple fish oil capsules daily, some niacin and a hefty B complex (not for cholesterol issues, but for general health)...along with lots-o oat granola ('cuz it's good and homemade is cheap). Each has been tagged with benefiting cholesterol in its own small way...maybe the combination is working?

The Old Bag said...

@Juancho -- especially that clean

LimesNow said...

"Roadkill on a stick. Booth A17. All sales benefit the Ladies Auxiliary."

I think what put me over the top was this: Oreos and Twinkies and ice cream . . already pretty bad. FRY them and then eat it??? It boggles the mind.

Mike J said...

I have some bad genes when it comes to cholesterol but the cycling seems to keep it under control. I wouldn't resort to eating better though. That's absolutely no fun at all.

Once known as The Badger said...

You wouldn't even want to know my numbers... but the ratio is (nearly) 1:1, so go figure.

WheelDancer said...

Hmmm, I guess it's time to get tested again since mine have been steadily rising, last seen in the 220's but my doc hasn't been concerned given my life style.

Marrock said...

What's "cholesterol"? ;)