Read as Ted Herselius talks about his experience with taking steps
Your Local Health | Written by BJ Towe
Taking steps to lower his blood pressure and cholesterol — without medications — has Ted Herselius feeling healthier and happier than ever. Ted Herselius, 58, doesn't often get sick. As a clinical courier with The Iowa Clinic, he has an active job. He avoids fast and fried foods, and he isn't aware of any health risk factors pre-wired into his genes. So until a year ago, he didn't worry about his health. Nor did he get annual checkups.
In January 2014, Herselius took advantage of The Iowa Clinic's employee wellness program, which includes biometric screening. Says Mickey Maxwell, The Iowa Clinic Benefits Administrator, “Biometric screenings are similar to what doctors provide in annual physicals. They include height, weight and body mass index, a blood pressure check, fasting glucose and lipid profile. This information provides a baseline or starting point for improvement.” Herselius was shocked to learn “My blood pressure was high. My total cholesterol was off the charts. My triglycerides were high. Everything was out of whack,” he says. He made an appointment with his physician right away.
After receiving a more detailed exam, Herselius was given a choice: Reduce his numbers on his own within 90 days or take medications. Herselius opted to get busy. Three months later, Herselius's blood pressure and lipids showed improvement. His doctor instructed him to continue doing what he was doing. After another three months, Herselius's total cholesterol had dropped 74 points and his triglycerides dropped 40 points. “I was in the normal range for everything,” he says.
How He Did It
Herselius committed himself to exercising more and eating a cholesterol-lowering diet. He bought a treadmill, began walking daily, and kept an exercise log. “At first I logged about 20 minutes. Over time, I got up to 30, then 35, then 40,” he recalls. “A couple of months later I began splitting my time between running and walking.” His wife Dawn, who loves to cook, learned healthier ways to prepare meals. They significantly reduced the amount of high-cholesterol foods in their diet, including red meat, eggs, and dairy products. And they learned better portion control. By October, Herselius not only participated in The Iowa Clinic's Couch-to-5K employee wellness event, but he also placed in his age category. Herselius now runs between 60 and 70 miles each month.
Herselius' Tips for Better Health
Herselius encourages others to improve their numbers before they may have a major health event. He suggests:
- Get an annual checkup. “It's so easy, and the information you get empowers you. If like me you have bad numbers but don't realize it, it can be the proverbial ticking time bomb.”
- Make exercise a priority. “Find four or five exercises you like and carve out time each day. Start slowly.”
- Have an accountability partner. Herselius's coach, provided through The Iowa Clinic's wellness program, “was absolutely essential,” he says. Don't have a coach? “Find a coworker, buddy, or relative who has similar goals and encourage one another.”
- Destress and declutter. Add stretching exercises. Try yoga. Keep things simple.
- Track calories burned vs. calories consumed. “I got a Fitbit and wore it long enough to know how many calories I was burning and how to tailor meals based on that.” Herselius adds, “It can seem daunting at first, but just get started. In six to eight weeks, you'll be amazed at the progress you've made.” “I believe most people need a catalyst to kick start a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately for a lot of people that catalyst is a heart attack, stroke, or diabetes. I was lucky that my wakeup call was a simple lipid profile.” — Ted Herselius