My Family’s Jeans and Genes

Today’s blog focuses on my family rather than my children…giving you a highly revealing sneak peek into the nutrition roller coaster of my relatives and my husband. I do hope they still love me after my sharing this. 
The idea for this blog came to me after visiting my uncle in the hospital and hearing that all of my cousins were “juice fasting” and/or “cleansing” for ten days to meet their weight loss goals. Rather than just cringing about their activities, I thought of my husband.
A few years ago, my husband was diagnosed with high cholesterol. Was I shocked? Well…not really. However, I did think “I hope this doesn’t turn out to be the start of his following in my parents’ footsteps” since they’re a huge part of why I originally wanted to become an RD. Though I was not shocked, I was very surprised because he lived an active lifestyle (skiing on the weekends, running when time permitted), in addition to the fact he eats the food I buy for our home and eats the dinners I make. I also knew he ate breakfast, lunch and many dinners at his office or with clients. What I didn’t know was what he regularly chose for breakfast and lunch. He did share his breakfast or lunch selections with me many times…perhaps only when he thought I would be happy to hear that he ate a turkey sandwich rather than the free pizza or Shake Shack’s burgers and fries! Nevertheless, he had a high LDL and low HDL cholesterol. This situation needed to change!
His first instinct, of course, was to join a gym. Yes, I did marry a man who didn’t exercise regularly! In addition to his gym membership, he also hired a personal trainer for twice-weekly sessions. He would come home sore and tell me how great his workout was. Then he would proceed to tell me how much weight he’d benched pressed. With my dietitian’s mindset, I just rolled my eyes, thinking this was not going to help him get his LDL down or lose weight. And frankly, I was right. It didn’t work…in part because he was so sore from exercise that he didn’t exercise often enough! He continued on this path despite my telling him that he needed to do change his diet and do cardio—and more cardio more often—to lose the inches around his waist (to reverse his risk for heart disease and even diabetes).
To make matters worse, his physician kept telling him to take cholesterol lowering medication. The doctor prescribed these meds when he was first diagnosed at the age of 34. This was absolutely crazy! And I would go wild every time thereafter when the doctor told him this; I knew my husband could make the lifestyle changes rather than taking the prescribed drugs. My husband needed time…and, of course, to listen to his wife! Ha ha! He has a type A personality and can pretty much accomplish whatever he sets his mind to—just one of the many reasons why I love him. I had tremendous faith in him. However, because I’m an RD, I knew I had to stay out of it.  You cannot change someone; he must change himself. I learned this the hard way…when I tried to change my parents’ and uncle’s dietary intakes while learning about nutrition in high school and college.)
So I kept my business in my office with my clients…and let my husband find his own way. I had to sit on the side lines while he would order his fancy $100-a-day juice cleanse to give him his “fresh start” or his “cleanse” before taking his cholesterol tests. I observed his vegan and/or vegetarian efforts for a month. Nothing worked! Why? Because none of his efforts lasted long enough to make a difference. Besides, he didn’t incorporate dietary changes with physical activity changes. Believe me, it broke my heart when I saw him carrying his juices to the office and then again when he purchased his first scale for our home.
Well, miracles do happen. Actually, it wasn’t really a miracle. Just time, trial and effort, and finally…results!
Before long, my husband started asking me questions. We discussed how there is no cheating, but rather, only choices with consequences. There was much dialogue…and then there was the Hamptons! One of my best friends has a home out there…and we happily vacationed with her and her family on a regular basis. It was always great: the moms exercised together while the dads watched the kids. So, this past spring (2012) I started booking spin classes for the dads, too.
First, the moms would go spinning and then the dads would go spinning after we returned back home.  My husband loved it. He felt amazing. He soon had a brand new mind set. He told me that he would ask himself: “Would Laura eat this?” or “What would Laura do in this situation?”
My husband lost 27 pounds over the past year. He was eating, and continues to eat, all foods, but mostly more wholesome foods lower in saturated fat and in smaller portions. He also increased his cardio (spin classes and or running) to about 2 times a week plus a weight resistance routine twice a week in our building’s gym. He currently aims for three to five workouts a week for maintenance. And yes, he is maintaining…but it’s definitely a fine line to balance. Just last night he told me that the change in his cholesterol and weight became evident once he finally made the dietary changes.
With all of his success, I thought the fancy juice cleanse would never reappear in our home. But it did! I was shocked once again. But more than anything, it reminded that “the proof is in the pudding.” My husband started his cleanse, and then a day into it, realized that he needn’t go to such extremes anymore. He felt great every day while starving himself only made him feel worse. He quit the juice cleanse knowing fasts were unnecessary for lowering cholesterol; we drank the juices as snacks! He relished (and continues to relish) the fact that he no longer has high cholesterol! Yes, he lowered his bad cholesterol, raised his good cholesterol…and lost weight. Meanwhile, he made his wife—ME—proud and even more confident that what I practice and what I preach work! 

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