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 ChiptoleFan.com 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 Allrecipes.com. 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 Prevention.com, "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 YogaDayUSA.org. 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