Determining how to lower your high cholesterol reading requires first taking a baseline measurements of your weight, waist size, diet, and activity that are potentially relevant to your cholesterol.
What is a baseline?
A baseline is simply a measure of current state. You’ll take measurements and compare them to the ideal when figuring out how to go about lowering your cholesterol.
Tools you’ll need
It won’t take a lot to get your baseline measurements. You’ll need the following tools:
- Notebook – paper or phone/computer/etc.
- Tape measure
- Time piece (watch, phone, etc.)
How to record your baseline
You can record your baseline measurements any way that’s convenient: paper notebook, notepad app on your phone, text editor on your computer, or a specialized app.
When recording your baseline measurements, we’re not worried about whether the measures indicate good or bad habits – we just want to write down what they are.
What to measure
First, since you already have your LDL, HDL, total cholesterol, and triglyceride readings from your doctor, write their values down at the start of your notebook.
How often to measure?
You’ll want to record your baseline at least a few days, up to a week. This will give you enough information to figure out an average.
1. What’s your weight?
Record your weight at the same time every day. According to the Mayo Clinic, you may be able to lower high cholesterol levels just by losing 5-10% of your body weight, so knowing what your current weight is at the start is important.
2. What’s your waist measurement?
Use your tape measure to measure your waist wherever your belt hangs, after you weigh yourself. Write the measurement down.
3. What are you eating?
Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, and snacks. It’s not important at this point to measure how large each serving is, as much as what each is.
4. How much of exercise are you getting?
For those same days, record all the exercise you get: what kind of activity (walking, running, lifting), how vigorous, and for how many minutes. To figure out how vigorous exercise is, use these measures:
- If you can hold a conversation or calm breathing, mark it easy.
- If you can hold short conversation but breathing is more difficult, mark it medium.
- If conversation is impossible or breathing is labeled, mark it hard.
At the end of the week, review your food and activity diary and look for trends. Do you eat a lot of food that comes from animals (red meat, chicken with skin, milk, butter) and/or baked goods? If so, you’ll gradually look to reduce how often you do. How many minutes of activity are you getting daily on average, and how strenuous? If very little, you’ll slowly introduce exercise into your day.
Over the coming weeks, I’ll write about setting goals and tools to help meet them.