Battling Cholesterol…

posted in: Uncategorized 4

I’ve been battling high cholesterol for many years. In my late twenties my “total” cholesterol count was over 320! I tried diet, exercise, but eventually had to go on a “statin”. Over time, this did lower my cholesterol (to low 200’s) – but it also had an awful side effect: It caused joint pain and stiffness in my hands and fingers. I complained to my doctor and he switched me to another type of statin. This was fine for a couple years, until again I started developing pain in my joints – and particularly in my hand and fingers. As a piano player, this was unacceptable!

As I did more research about cholesterol I learned that it’s not just the “total cholesterol” numbers which are important, but the ratio of the “good” (HDL) cholesterol to the “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. I started reading about how to boost the HDL, while decreasing the LDL. Diet and exercise play HUGE roles…

So, two years ago, I decided to try a new diet and exercise routine. I stopped taking the statins. I switched to an “almost-all” organic diet (mostly vegetables) and started more long-distance cardio workouts (running and mountain biking primarily). When I returned to my doctor, my numbers weren’t “great”, but they weren’t “awful” either (around 250 total, with the LDL at 150 and HDL at 50). I continued to tweak my diet and exercise routine… which brings us to this past year.

I had already been off statins for about a year when I started a “new gary” approach. I stopped eating red meat and processed meats. I stopped eating eggs and milk (I switched to eggbeaters). I removed sugars everywhere possible. Now, understand, I LOVE eating a good steak, a great cheeseburger and BACON in the morning. But, I stopped eating all of these things in order to STAY OFF MEDICATION. I continued to exercise as before. The result: my numbers moved down to 243 – with my LDL at 141 and HDL at 56. Not bad. But I believed I could do more…

In January of this year, I added Red Yeast Rice (1 capsule in the morning) to my supplements (I use choleste-rice from BlueBonnet). That’s the only real modification I made to my diet and exercise routine. When I returned to my Doctor last week, my numbers had gone DOWN again – not much, but they were lower. LDL was 133, HDL was 56 and total cholesterol 231. My ratio was 3.8. This was all acceptable, but I’m trying to get my ratio under 3.0 – with my HDL over 60 and my LDL under 130.

So, the next part of my experiment is this: I will try to raise my HDL, while lowering my LDL in this way:

To lower LDL, I will begin taking Red Yeast Rice twice per day (morning and evening)

To raise HDL – I will switch from Egg Beaters to Organic Eggs

Those are the only changes I’ll be making… I’ll report back in 6 months with the results!

Meanwhile, I can happily report I have NO joint pain in my hands or joints. Previously (while taking a statin), I had ongoing aches and pains in my joints and hands.

*NOTE: I am NOT a Doctor – nor is this medical advice. Just because you read something in a blog doesn’t mean it’s Scientifically proven! That stated, if you’re struggling with high cholesterol, I hope my experiences will inspire and help you. If you have some ideas and positive results yourself, please leave comments below – I enjoy hearing from you 🙂


4 Responses

  1. Lorraine Nielsen
    | Reply

    Gary, I too, have high cholesterol…my being familial and not diet related. I used to take statins and it did lower it significantly, but the potential side affects: diabetes, cancer, heart attacks, turned me off. I learned from a nurse who has done research on statins, that they are VERY bad. He said he wouldn’t take them even if his cholesterol was 800! I immediately threw out my meds and I don’t take anything now. The pharmaceutical companies make billions off of these drugs and the doctors benefit from it, too. My number is 301 as of last. I’m not concerned with it. The body needs cholesterol to function properly; I eat a healthy diet and exercise. I just read today that eating one avocado everyday does lower cholesterol…that’s a good thing! Glad you’re doing better…you need to keep playing! 🙂

    • Gary Girouard
      | Reply

      Thanks Lorraine – Actually, my cholesterol is familial as well, and I’m TOTALLY in agreement with you on the negative effects of statins. The pharmaceuticals have become too powerful – and people often don’t look beyond the PAID ads to find out the real research. Dr. Mercola is an excellent resource if you haven’t heard of him… I’m planning to play piano the rest of my days 🙂

  2. Donna M. Stanish
    | Reply

    Hello Gary,

    I am a new follower to you, your music, and now your blog. I want to tell you, thank you, for being so kind in sharing your experience. Many people don’t think to do so, and I appreciate it. I have a very dear friend who has been a volunteer EMT for 40 years – a good man – and he suffers from joint pain in his hands. He is on those darned statins. I have forwarded your blog to him. I pray he will try your suggestions.


    PS: Your music is knocking me out. I am not sure how I am going to return to listen to Pandora’s offerings. ; ) How I found you….? Yes, it did begin with Pandora with Yiruma’s, When the Love Falls. He is amazing. I went to to locate his music, which led me to Jose M. Armenta as he played your “Love”. After I had read the lovely information about you, I thought, Gosh, I have to listen to this song by the original artist. And here I am. My son, Nathan, 13 years old, is learning how to play piano, and we both think you are pretty neat! Thank you, too, for sharing your extraordinary gift with the world. Have a great day, many blessings. We are pleased you are feeling better.

    • pianoxcape
      | Reply

      Thank you Donna – I appreciate your kind message and glad to have provided some inspiration for you and your son. Please encourage Nathan to “stick with it”. All the best,
      – Gary

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