‘I reduced my cholesterol.’

How Carolyn Trono of Winnipeg reduced her cholesterol through simple lifestyle changes

'I reduced my cholesterol.'

Despite living an active lifestyle, Carolyn Trono, a Winnipeg mother of three and full-time education, training and development consultant, couldn’t seem to shed those extra pounds. In December 2007 she decided to visit Phyllis Reid-Jarvis, a registered dietitian. Reid-Jarvis gave Trono a few initial pointers to get through the holiday season until results from her annual physical in January painted a clearer picture of the problem.

The breaking point

Trono’s test results were a surprise. ‘My blood work showed I had quite high cholesterol," she says, "including LDL [low-density lipoproteins], and triglyceride levels. Some of it was hereditary but some of it was diet. I knew I could do something about that.’ High LDL and triglycerides are types of fat called ‘lipids’ that clog arteries (worse when high levels of both are combined) and increase the risk of heart attack.

The challenge

To reduce cholesterol levels through dietary changes and exercise (while cooking for a family of meat lovers).

The plan

Reid-Jarvis recommended simple dietary changes, starting with cutting back on saturated fat intake. She suggested eating red meat only once per week, poultry one to two times per week, fish two to three times per week and meatless meals (e.g., legumes, tofu) two to three times per week. Trono was also encouraged to significantly reduce or cut out processed foods and decrease cheese consumption to one to two times per week. She also introduced healthy fat sources into her diet, such as nuts and seeds. While Trono had been working out five days a week, Reid-Jarvis told her to up the intensity of her workouts from basic cardio to include interval and resistance training.

The biggest obstacle

Juggling the menu is hard for Trono because her three kids and husband love red meat (and they are picky eaters). Her solution? She plans ahead and makes sure she has healthier alternatives for her on hand. “When it’s hamburger night, I will prepare a salmon burger for myself. Or I’ll make a big batch of vegetarian chili and defrost some for my dinner.’

The results

Six months later, Trono went to her GP for another blood test and the changes had paid off. Her cholesterol levels are close to normal and, as a bonus, she’s shed 10 pounds. ‘What’s really amazing is how I feel," she says. "I just have so much energy doing stuff around the house. By the end of the day, I’m like, ‘OK, what’s next?,’ not counting down to 10 p.m. when I can go to bed.’ Next up? Trono’s working on her portion sizes with the goal of shedding the last 15 pounds.

The tips

  • Take baby steps. ‘Don’t change everything right away,’ says Trono. She found it much easier to focus on one dietary change at a time, such as tackling protein. Now, six months later, she’s going to work on portion control.
  • Taste temptations. Trono quit her bad habit of ‘taste testing’ whatever she’s cooking by ensuring she has fresh vegetables close by to snack on while she prepares meals. As for her love of eggs, she found she didn’t miss the yolk when she makes egg-white-only omelettes.

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