Food Diaries, Home Cooking and Yoga Help High Cholesterol

Whitney Health Guide
  • I may not have shed any pounds during the first week, but I've met some goals. My aims for this week were simple: keep a detailed diary of all of the foods that I ate and exercises completed, stop drinking my calories and consume only water (bye-bye to OJ, soda, tea, coffee and all of the other liquid goodies I used to enjoy), and get working on an exercise plan.

    Well, two out of three ain't bad. I did a fabulous job keeping a detailed food diary and it's really helped me to see what my food traps are. After two days of keeping the unadulterated food log, I found myself questioning some of the things that I put in my mouth. For example, Tuesday I was dying for a burrito from Chipotle, which happens to be right next door to the Starbucks that I work from most days. I figured my go-to chicken burrito with rice, black beans and corn (I normally get sour cream, but I could tell them to hold it) wouldn't be that unhealthy. I was wrong. I had the good sense to visit first, which told me that all that bread and rice and chicken actually packed a whopping 830 calories and more salt than I should consume in two days. No thank you.

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    Not to say that I haven't slipped up. There was one trip to McDonald's and a memorable happy hour at a Washington, D.C. bar that left me $50 poorer and nearly 700 wine calories richer. The next day, through a raging headache, I was able to Google the caloric contents of my sauvignon blanc: 110 calories per glass. Yikes. I'll definitely be thinking twice before asking for a refill.

    I also ventured into home cooking, which has been an adventure. I prepared a heavily altered version of a beefy Spanish rice recipe that I found on I used brown rice instead of white, and lean ground turkey instead of beef. In theory, it was a great idea because it yielded six servings that could have lasted me a while...if only it were edible. Oh well, I'm trying a tasty-looking quinoa salad recipe this week.

    So, on the diet front, I'm learning. On the exercise front, I'm yoga-ing. I mentioned my love of discipline last week and this week I ventured back into that comfort zone.  I normally take free lessons offered by a suburban studio every Saturday, but I wanted to kick it up a notch and experiment with different yoga disciplines that are more cardio focused and less stretching. I found a super-cheap studio in the city that offers new members three classes for only $10! They also have "yogalates" and straight-up Pilates too...score! Only problem: I got super-intimidated before my first scheduled Pilates class. I've never taken it before (unlike yoga, which I've been practicing since high school) and it was in a trendy Washington neighborhood where everyone was sure to be really, really fit and advanced. Yep, I'm not proud of it, but I let my nerves get the best of me and I skipped Pilates, opting for good, old-fashioned yoga.

    It turns out, though, that the stress-buster can also be a fat-buster. According to, "Studies show that yoga lowers levels of stress hormones and increases insulin sensitivity - a signal to your body to burn food as fuel rather than store it as fat." Plus, a Yale University study done in 2004 suggests that yoga can actually lower your risk of heart disease and blood pressure. Nice!

  • If you're also interested in trying out yoga for weight loss or heart disease, visit Saturday, January 23, is National Yoga Day and studios around the country will be offering classes free-of-charge!

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    Here are my stats this week:

    Age: 24

    Height: 5'2"

    Body mass index (BMI): 45.7

    Blood Cholesterol: 220 mg/DL [I won't be checking this weekly.]

Published On: January 22, 2010