From the heart...
Now for the personal part...most people know my story...heart disease is VERY personal to me...I lost my mom in 2007 when she succumbed to a major heart attack at age 47...heart disease is prevalent in my family. This led me to take measures to improve my own health and that's how my fitness journey began years ago. I've since tried my best to take preventive heart health measures and have gotten routine blood work annually to keep a close watch on all my numbers, especially my cholesterol, triglycerides and glucose levels. They've always been great until recently. My cholesterol returned this month alarmingly high for me: my LDL (bad cholesterol) is terribly high and my HDL (good cholesterol) is low. My HDL has ALWAYS been too low and this is likely due to genetics, but I was shocked by my LDL levels. Everyone knows the gym is my second home. My diet is clean, although my cardiologist pointed out that a bodybuilder's definition of clean may differ from a cardiologist's definition of clean...I don't disagree on that point. Although I only eat lean meats, my animal protein is probably too high, so I'm cutting back and I'll be adding in salmon and other fish twice per week. I need to increase my soluble fiber intake as well. Take a look at your nutrition because it's true that we are either feeding disease or fighting disease with our diets. Jumping back though to before my blood work, I've had other heart issues crop up unexpectedly this year...thankfully these are considered benign, but in May, I began having PAC's and PVC's...premature atrial and ventricular contractions. I was relieved to discover that while they're terribly uncomfortable and alarming when they happen, they are thankfully benign. These issues though were a blessing in disguise in terms of being a wake up call for me. I felt great and felt healthy, but I was 100% immersed in bodybuilding competition life...I had just come off of a contest last August and was building up for the next big prep with no plans to slow my roll. I had big goals. My body had other goals...it forced me to stop and listen to it. The heart arrhythmia combined with my alarming cholesterol results told me that I needed to reevaluate...I was apparently not taking care of my body properly...I thought my lifestyle was healthy...I was eating on a regimented plan and living in the gym, but that was not insurance for my health. Many people can live the bodybuilding contest life for many years with no problems and do so healthily, but if you look into it, you'll discover that heart health issues are no stranger to the bodybuilding world. I had to admit to myself that bodybuilding, for me, in terms of putting my body through extremes is just not in my best health interest, not with my family history and my genetics...not if I want to live a long, healthy life. My cardiologist, who had always been supportive of me bodybuilding, agreed with my decision to stop after my recent issues. It was NOT a hard decision for me to choose long term health. I'm certainly not attacking the sport that I love, I'm just finally sharing the reason I chose to close the door on competition life. I'll still bodybuild, but my stage will be life...and I just don't want to hear "exit stage left" prematurely. I'm in love with life and those in my life and I want to stick around for as long as possible. I've still got purpose to fulfill and it's not flexing on stage...it's spreading awareness for heart health and serving my fitness family at the Wellness Center as a trainer...I share all of this because I care. Friends, if you haven't checked your numbers recently, schedule your blood work now and have routine checkups! Bodybuilding friends, stay healthy in this sport...there are ways to keep it healthy.
Natural Cholesterol Lowering Supplements: (Cardiologist Approved)
-Red Yeast Rice
-Plant Sterols (my doctor recommended Cholestoff - sold on amazon)