A Guest Post by Peter Lynch
Thanks to Shakeology and P90X I was able to lower my Cholesterol. Now I no longer take any Cholesterol medicine and my numbers are looking great! My doctor said to keep doing what I’m doing. To understand how exciting that news is you have to know a little more about me. I am 49 years old and for the past 15 years I have been taking Cholesterol medicine: first Zocor then Niacin. I was resigned to the fact that I had hereditary high cholesterol and that was all I could do about it.
Over those fifteen years I became less and less active. I’m sure a little laziness was part of the problem, but starting about twelve years ago, any exercise I did with my upper body caused my shoulders to ache and gave me a debilitating headache. I could walk on the treadmill all day long but if I did any upper body strength training then by lunch the knots in my shoulders would cause waves of pain in my head and I would not be able to function for the rest of the day. It was like a Migraine – nausea, light sensitivity, PAIN! I was so miserable that I didn’t care if I could lower my cholesterol.
Despite this I was a member of the YMCA and tried to stay in shape. I used the treadmills, ellipticals and nautilus weight machines but had no direction on what workouts to do. I was pretty aimless in my exercises, but don’t get me wrong, I was consistent with four days a week workouts, however, I didn’t understand muscle groups or muscle confusion or nutrition. I tended, probably like most people, to focus on the same things all of the time. I’m not a big fan of walking on the treadmill anyway and after a while your body gets used to it and you stop making progress and besides its monotonous and boring.
Over the last twelve years I had countless doctor visits. They could never find anything wrong other than trigger points in my shoulders and back. The first doctor sent me for a CAT scan for my head to make sure the headaches weren’t coming from there and luckily, like Arnold Swarzenegger in Kindergarten Cop, I was happily able to say “it’s not a tumor”. So I went on for several years doing less and less and taking more Ibuprophen. Then I went to a neurologist who sent me for an MRI on my upper spine and decided there was nothing he could find but put me on some medication that made my heart race and which I quickly discontinued. At this point I gave little thought to the fact that I could lower my cholesterol.
More years went by and I saw a pain management doctor who gave me trigger point injections and sent me for my first course of physical therapy which included 3 visits a week for 10 weeks for an hour to an hour and a half each. My therapist’s name was Tony and he was great and tough, kind of like Tony Horton of P90X. Of course with physical therapy you grab the 1 pound weights and after weeks and weeks you move up to 2 pound weights. It is very slow and deliberate. Tiny weights, flimsy bands and fingers crawling up and down the wall. Isn’t this what they do on Muscle Beach in California? But after my 30 visits I felt better – for a while. But, then it all started again when I tried to continue any strength training.
I wasn’t married to western medicine either. I tried visiting a Feldenkrais practitioner. (have you even heard of that?) I’m not sure I can even describe what I did there but I think it had to do with expanding and straightening your bone structure. I’m sure that is an over simplification of the process but in short, I found no relief. I then tried an acupuncturist. Maybe if I had found magic hands Miagi from the Karate Kid movies, this would have helped, but after a few months and lots of money I was not better, not even temporarily. So, I came back to the West, but I still had no idea that I could lower my cholesterol without taking drugs.
More time went by with the same headaches and inability to exercise – much. Then my new primary doctor at the time who was an osteopath did needle point injections on my neck and back muscles every three or so weeks for about a year while I was getting two massages a month and went back to Tony for another 30 visits of physical therapy. This was my blitz attempt at getting cured and it did give me more temporary relief but then more headaches.
This whole time I’m thinking that there has to be an underlying problem causing the trigger points (muscle spasms) and resultant headaches. At this point ten years have gone by and I have made really no progress other than the fact that I know a little bit more about the human anatomy and that if I spend a lot of time and money visiting doctors and physical and massage therapists that I will get some short term relief – but make no lasting change. I was still thinking at this point that I needed drugs to lower my cholesterol.
About two years ago while working under my house I hurt my shoulder. This is when I learned what a rotator cuff was. I went to an orthopedic doctor who said it looked like frozen shoulder and sent me to physical therapy for the third time. Tony, I’m back! After several months of therapy I got an MRI in which we found that there was nothing wrong with my rotator cuff. The doctor then gave me a cortisone shot while I finished physical therapy, but just to be sure, I visited another orthopedic and a neurologist and neither of them could find an underlying problem.
During my last course of physical therapy Tony told me one day that I had absolutely no muscle tone. Well that must have been the wakeup call I needed, because it is what motivated me to finally start doing P90X, which my wife had been doing for over a year. After years and years of doctor after doctor and three 30 session stints at physical therapy, many massages, acupuncture and Feldenkraise, I achieved little more than short term relief. You may be asking yourself what all this has to do with wanting to lower my cholesterol? Well at this point I didn’t think it did either but I am getting to that.
So as I said at the beginning I started taking a statin drug called Zocor since obviously my cholesterol was too high. After years of having all of these un-diagnosable muscle and headache problems, my wife and I started to wonder if the statin could be the underlying problem causing my muscle issues. So about four years ago I stopped the Zocor and changed to Niacin which is not a statin drug. This also helped keep my cholesterol under control but had its own issues.
In the process of dealing with all of these issues and just a desire to stay fit and healthy, we discovered Shakeology. Over the past two years I have been drinking it every day. The regular Chocolate is my favorite; it is my daily dose of dense nutrition. I then had my wakeup call in April of 2012 when Tony dropped the bomb and pointed out my scrawny physique. I was in the Army in my 20’s and could do 100 pushups in two minutes without stopping and I still thought of myself like that more than twenty years later so this was a heavy blow. Well that was enough! I needed to do something about my limp musculature and since my wife had been doing P90X, I decided that I would too.
I dived right into my P90X workouts. I had found my reason to stay motivated and I wouldn’t skip a day no matter how busy I was and by the end I was showing great progress even though I couldn’t keep up with Tony and his cronies. After finishing the first 90 days I took a short breather (which means I did random workouts every other day) before starting a second round. I did get some headaches at first, especially on the days I lifted weights above my head, but I had decided that either my head would explode or my shoulders would strengthen enough to get me past this nightmare and eventually the headaches lessened and went away. I finished my second 90 days of P90X in March and then started Body Beast where I lift 30 pounds or more in each hand over my head and have now been headache free for around six months and you’re still probably wondering what this all has to do with being able to lower my cholesterol. At this point I still didn’t know either, but I soon found out.
I started having some side effects from the Niacin about two months ago. It started making me itch to where I couldn’t sleep at night, so I stopped taking it. After consulting with my doctor we decided to check my cholesterol levels after a month without it and when we did my total cholesterol had dropped from 222 a year ago while on medication, to 177 with no medication. My LDL was less than 120. It was awesome! I feel great and am much stronger and fit and not only feel healthier but have some evidence to prove it.
I can’t do 100 consecutive pushups like that 25 year old of my past but I can do things most 49 year olds can’t. When I saw Tony again, socially this time, he was impressed with my progress. I’m happy to say that my head never exploded and even though I won’t call it a cure, my healthy lifestyle, which is anchored by the nutrition of Shakeology and the fitness of P90X (still my favorite) have made my life much more productive and enjoyable. I was able to lower my cholesterol with no drugs (which is great!) and I also overcame a debilitating condition. Whether your issues are similar to mine or if you want to lose weight or just tone up, I am sure that you can benefit from Shakeology and P90X.
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