Those amazing opportunities cleverly disguised as problems

Sometimes if you have been snoozing instead of paying attention, things can sneak up on you. We all know a lot of “sneaking up” occurred in the last year and I was no exception. Even though I was fortunate to retire in May, and have a lot of time and ability to avoid contact with others, that also brought less activity and changes in eating. Normally at work, I was taking 3 flights of stairs at least 4 times a day and sometimes more. I walked significant steps to and from class, across campus to other offices, from the parking lot to the building. I generally ate healthy options.

So while my weight did not go up, my cholesterol did. By a lot. Last year, I was not a risk factor. This year, I was. I think my doctor is amazing: skilled, competent, knowledgable, well-read on recent research and practice, engaging, respectful, and a partner in my health care. I am also knowledgeable and well-read on health care aspects that relate to my needs and my desire to live my best physical and mental life. I take him seriously, and I take my role in my health seriously. I came home from that visit Wednesday and began to make changes.

If I had my way, every doctor’s office would have a licensed master’s level social worker (LMSW or LCSW) and a Registered Dietician (RD) on staff. That has increasingly become the norm in many medical practices, for screening, assessment, and referral. It is well-known that there is a connection between mind, body, environment, and health. I think we have all heard “diet and exercise” as a mantra for what ails us, and yes, it is true. I have read and heard plenty about controlling many health issues with diet and exercise. The trouble is, if I do not know “what is in the diet” I need, it will not help.

I am not going to discuss my health needs here–it is not relevant. What is relevant, is knowing where to find the information we need to take better care of ourselves. Typically, when I need reliable information, I use webMD, Mayo Clinic, or National Institutes of Health data. When I searched for “diet to lower cholesterol”, the one I chose was the National Institutes of Health Your Guide to Lowering Your Cholesterol With TLC: Therapeutic Lifestyles.

While I am knowledgeable about many aspects of health (having been a medical social worker as well as taught medical social work and Human Behavior and the Social Environment which includes risks and resilience across the lifespan), it was clear to me that after only beginning to read this 85 page booklet that when we hear “diet and exercise” without some more specific information, it does not tell us what we need to know. For the past 2 days, my “tracking” of diet has significantly changed. In order to be successful at this, I have to track not just calories, but total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, soluble fiber, dietary cholesterol, and protein. Sugar would be important to track normally, but since I am monitoring the TLC diet, it already factors in low or no sugar foods, but I still look at the sugar content and am mindful.

Why does this matter? Because on a diet to lower LDL (“bad” cholesterol and triglycerides) and raise HDL (“good” cholesterol–and fortunately my HDL is good, though it can be improved and that is my goal), if you do not track these (as in keep a list of this content every day for the foods you eat), you do not know what you are putting into your body. (Note: the TLC also includes sample meal plans for a variety of cuisines including American food, Southern food, Asian food, Mexican food, as well as daily calorie intake for 2500, 1800, 1600, and 1200 calories for each cuisine with those contents already tracked. That would be a great option for the person who did not have the time or inclination to track them on your own–I find doing the tracking helps to motivate me as I see progress toward goals, and gain knowledge and appreciation for the process.)

We all know that when there is immediate and rapid change, we are all as happy as a duck in water. What is hard is to sustain it. Reminds me of a saying I learned when I worked in addictions, about the AA 12-step program: “it works when you work it.” While I have recognized changes (weight, energy, sleep, and “feel good”) since last Sunday, those have increased since I began this process Wednesday. That is important, because the more positive reinforcement we give ourselves, the more likely we are to stick with it long enough for it to become a lifestyle.

For those of you who walk and bike, thank you for posting about it. For the uplifting nature pictures that soothe our souls and remind us of our oneness with the universe and each other, I love these reminders and reinforcers about the pay-offs, and how they add not only to our health and well-being, but to the opportunity to experience more joy, gratitude, and compassion in our lives–for others and for ourselves.


I miss you Peggy, and I thank you for all I learned from you and the experience of you in my life for the past year. I am grateful for Jean at Social Bridges, Beth at Small Simple Things of Life, Linda Re at Between the Gateposts, Betty at Chambers on the Road, Anne at Mehrling Muse, John S at Taps and Ratamacues, Sheryl at A Hundred Years Ago, Wichita Geneaologist at Ups and Downs of Family History, Katie at A Virginia Writer’s Diary, and Anna Blake at Anna Blake for the particular learning and understanding that each of you have gifted me.

This entry was posted in Acts of Restorative Kindness, Ecosystem, Mississippi and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Those amazing opportunities cleverly disguised as problems

  1. davidprosser says:

    Cholesterol blood test tomorrow morning after which I must finish packing my bags to run away from the results. I know I haven’t been too good with my diabetes results recently and I know why. As soon as they draw liquid chocolate from my veins they’ll know too. I wonder if there are any vacancies for painters in the south Sea Islands?
    Huge Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Suzassippi says:

      I am not certain about painter vacancies, but surely being in the South Sea Islands would have some other benefits? πŸ™‚
      When reality first started dawning on me as I aged, I said I had always expected to glide gracefully into old age with the ability to continue what I had always done. Sending you a compassionate and understanding air-hug and hope your doctor is as gently pushy as mine is.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Betty says:

    Good luck with this new journey, and thank you for the acknowledgement. Your work and changes will pay off, you will just have to find tricks to sustain your motivation. There is lots of room for improvement with diet and exercise in my life, but I do keep trying. Knowledge is power, as they say, and you are making proof of that. P.S. I miss Peggy, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a surprise to see my name under acknowledgements! I have enjoyed your posts and have been blessed by your writing. You have made a good start in the war against cholesterol, and you are going to win.

    I was blessed to be with a doctor in a large practice when I was diagnosed with diabetes. The nutritionist was most helpful, and her advice still rings in my ears. Aging has caught up with many of us, so you are in good company. We’ll cheer each other on.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Katie says:

    I’m sending you positive, happy thoughts and good vibes as you start this new journey! I’ve learned so much from your blog, and this post is no exception. I really appreciate your sharing all of this so candidly. It makes me feel motivated to do better for myself, and to take control of my own health. In short, you are a rock star, you got this, and you make me feel like I got this, too. And thank you for the kind acknowledgement! It means a lot. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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