How To Conquer Metabolic Syndrome
The snow was finally melting as Brenda opened her annual entry form for the 5-K walk/run sponsored by her local hospital. Every year, she'd fantasize about briskly walking the course and feeling sensational. But she'd spent yet another winter deep in self-neglect; her lack of exercise led to weight gain, resulting in despair about her mind and body. So, as she had every other year, Brenda tossed the entry form into the trash, feeling hopeless, helpless, and defeated.
But suddenly, everything changed. Two of Brenda's dearest friends were stricken with life-threatening conditions: one with heart disease, the other with diabetes. Brenda heard how each was learning to make time for physical activity, healthy eating, and mindful living. She took their message to heart, literally.
This 5-K was her golden opportunity. Brenda told herself, "Let the journey begin."
Brenda was no athlete. She made every excuse to avoid exercise. A computer software specialist, she worked at a monitor for hours. She'd married a great guy who had no interest in moving either, once he got home.
Inactivity showed on both of them. He was already 30 lb overweight, and at 5'6", Brenda had put on 40 lb over the past 6 years. And it was landing right inside her tummy, expanding her waistline and dangerously increasing her risk for the very diseases her friends now had. Furthermore, she was beset with perimenopausal symptoms. Insomnia, mood swings, irregular menstrual cycles, and increased cravings for junk food were making her life miserable.
Brenda Has Metabolic Syndrome. Do You?
Brenda had developed signs of what medical experts once called Syndrome X and now refer to as metabolic syndrome: a condition that occurs when too much fat accumulated inside the abdomen leads to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. As her estrogen levels began to decline during her 40s, it became easier to pack on pounds deep inside her tummy, overwhelming the liver's ability to keep cholesterol and insulin levels under control. As she replaced leather belts with elastic, Brenda's risk for the diseases caused by metabolic syndrome escalated. What's more, perimenopausal symptoms are usually worse in women who are not physically active and who don't eat healthfully.
During her checkup, Brenda got a stern warning from her doctor that her blood sugar was now borderline elevated, and her blood pressure was on the rise. She knew that, finally, her unhealthy lifestyle had to go. Desperate for a goal, she got another 5-K entry form and mailed it in.[pagebreak]
She Ran for Her Life!
Race day came, and Brenda was ready. She'd convinced her two girlfriends and her hubby to join her. Together, they crossed the finish line proud and happy.
Her perimenopausal symptoms were finally under control, and the metabolic syndrome symptoms vanished. She was down two dress sizes and wearing real belts again. Brenda was already filling out the entry form for another 5-K, and a 10-K in the fall was looking mighty attractive.
My Prescription for Brenda
Medicate with movement. Becoming physically active is the best natural alternative to taking drugs to control blood sugar and hypertension. So Brenda bought a pedometer and set a goal of 10,000 steps per day, or about 4.5 miles, to lower her blood sugar and pressure. She took 5- to 10-minute movement breaks after every 45 minutes on her computer. Soon, she was walking a mile in 15 minutes, and after 3 months, she walked a 13-minute mile.
Lift and lose. Lifting weights is an essential part of burning calories efficiently. Brenda joined the local Y and, trainer in tow, began to build strength, which gave her speed and endurance for walking.
Fuel the training.Brenda gradually substituted whole foods for processed and refined sugars and concentrated on portion control. Daily exercise was beginning to regulate her appetite and helped control her cravings. Soy and dark leafy greens provided her with more natural plant estrogens to even out hormonal spikes.
Jump for joy. Brenda began to spend more time with her family and friends, got to the movies more often, and got down and dirty with her new spring garden.
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