In 2009, when I was 25, I was diagnosed with high cholesterol. My doctor didn’t mince words—he said that because I was 20 pounds overweight and had a family history of heart disease and diabetes, it made sense for me to go on Lipitor (a commonly prescribed statin drug) immediately. It wasn’t exactly a bolt from the blue. After several years of living in New York, I had become sedentary, developed terrible eating habits, drank regularly, and had a host of vague health issues that left me lethargic, itchy, and altogether miserable.
After my doctor’s appointment, I started taking the prescription, since I knew I had to do something to improve my health. But I wasn’t really prepared to go on statin medication (which is usually prescribed to adults 65 and older) in my twenties. Instead, I soon decided to tackle my health issues with good old-fashioned willpower and “cure” my high cholesterol with nutrition and exercise. I would simply eat less and move more—the classic prescription for weight loss. I tossed my Lipitor prescription in the trash and got started.
All Work and No Play
My new fitness approach was “all or nothing.” I started waking up early to spend 45 minutes on the elliptical machine before work. I also signed up for personal training, attended group fitness classes from spinning to yoga, and paid for a meal delivery service that offered calorically restricted meals. It all helped—I lost some weight and my cholesterol levels improved. And even though I was putting in a ton of work for relatively modest rewards, I felt self-righteous and proud of my achievements. But the “eat less, move more” mantra didn’t really solve my problem. In fact, it became a problem.