This past weekend Mark and I were sitting at our local wine bar enjoying a glass of red. It's a small, quaint place so it's easy to hear the conversations going on around you--especially when you really start listening! A few feet away at the bar a man and a woman were talking. My guess is that they were in their upper 50's--maybe low 60's. They weren't a couple--more likely friends who hang around in the same circle. Their conversation went something like this (keep in mind my memory is not perfect, but you get the gist):
Woman (while eating some cheese): You know I was at a party with Mike last weekend, and they had this fantastic cheese. I asked him, "Did you try this?" And he said, "No. My doctor said my cholesterol needs to come down, and I don't want to go on medicine, so I'm trying to stay away from things like cheese and eat healthier." I was like, "Really? I just take cholesterol medicine. Life is too short!"
Man: Yeah, I'm on Lipitor. It's amazing how quick that little pill brings your numbers down. But some people can't tolerate it. My wife was on it, but it was starting to cause some liver damage, so she went off. But I seem to tolerate it just fine, so I'm still taking it.
Woman: Yeah, I just don't get it. Why watch what you eat, deprive yourself of all that good food, and do all that exercise when you can just take one little pill everyday? Life is too short for that!
I swear, Mark had to keep me in my seat, because it is this exact attitude that's killing America (literally and financially). It's one of the reasons I have trouble making a living as a fitness professional in Ohio. "Why exercise and eat right when I can solve everything with a little pill?"
And it's an attitude I just don't understand. I would do everything I possibly could to avoid going on cholesterol or blood pressure medication. And any sacrifice or extra exercise would be well worth it.
I think people often believe that if something is government approved (pesticides, medications, processed foods, etc.) it can't possibly harm you. But have you ever read what some of these cholesterol medicines actually do in your body?
Check out this article from Natural News. Here's an excerpt:
Not a believer in natural health (which seems bizarre to me), then check out this report by CBS news.
Millions of Americans take statin drugs to help lower their cholesterol, making it one of the most popular classes of prescription drugs on the market today, but like most prescription medications, these drugs are often unnecessary, as most Americans could lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels simply by changing their diet and lifestyle. However, we live in a world where people are looking for a quick fix, and doctors are eager to recommend "magic pills" to patients with any and all health concerns. The problem with these so-called "magic pills" is that they often end up doing more harm than good. Such is the case with Lipitor, the most popular of the five statin drugs available today...
As it turns out, the side effects mentioned by the ads' unseen spokesperson are just the tip of the iceberg.
Dr. Matthew Budoff, author of "Enhancing Heart Health," writes that cholesterol-lowering drugs like Lipitor "work by inhibiting the enzyme needed to manufacture cholesterol in the liver. However, these drugs also block the manufacture of important nutrients like CoQ10, which has been shown to benefit heart health. The other main drawback of this class of drugs is debilitating muscle pain ... Other side effects, according to the Physicians Desk Reference, include liver problems, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headaches and skin rash."
The choice is, of course, yours. I'm just saying, do some research. Don't just blindly take a medication. Ask your doctor exactly what the medication does. And then do your own research. Make an informed decision. I only take medications when absolutely necessary, and then I still look up everything I can find on it.
A doctor once gave me a prescription for migraines. As an extra bonus, one of the side effects was weight loss! My first thought was, "Wow. No more migraines and easy weight loss! Awesome!" And I took two of them. Because one of the side effects was loss of appetite, I actually dropped a few pounds in just those two days. And as I'm sure many of my female readers can attest to, sometimes we'll do about anything to shed a few pounds--especially when weight loss has been a struggle. But then I started researching everything I could find of the drug. The side effects were not ones I was willing to deal with. Hair loss was one of the most common ones. My hair is bad enough! So I threw the pills away. Now I use feverfew (a plant--I actually grow it), as well as trying to avoid certain foods and actions that trigger the migraines.
Today's attitude just seems to be to take the easiest way out. "You mean I can just take this pill and keep eating cheeseburgers and drinking beer every night? That I don't have to start an exercise program and I can still lower my cholesterol?? Right on!"
I believe that we need an attitude adjustment!
After my husband and I listened in on the wine bar conversation he asked me (playing devil's advocate): Okay, if you knew that after a lifetime of watching what you eat and exercise you only got to live six months longer than the person who chose the Lipitor route, would you still choose healthy eating and exercise, or would you just enjoy whatever foods you wanted?
Without hesitation my answer is still the life of healthy eating and exercise. For me, it's not just about the end result. It's how I feel everyday. Eating healthy and exercising makes me feel good on a daily basis. Healthy eating, gives me energy, helps my digestion, keeps my skin clear and young. And when I know I'm fueling my body with good things, I feel better mentally. And exercise...sometimes I have trouble motivating like everyone else, but ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS I feel better afterward. I have never finished a workout and thought, "Man I wish I hadn't exercised today." Plus, I like the way it makes my body look! Muscles are sexy!
The choice is certainly yours. You can swallow the daily pill or you can make some life changes. (I realize there are some situations where one's cholesterol and blood pressure are high due to heredity and not lifestyle. And while I would still encourage you to do your research, I realize you may have a much harder choice). My hope is that whatever situation you choose, you'll give it some serious thought. Ask your doctor the tricky questions and demand honest answers. Consult a Naturopathic practitioner. Sometimes the easy way out, isn't the best way out.