Just in case some of you are still not convinced of the benefits of a healthy diet combined with vigorous exercise I would like to present to you patient D.W., a 59-year-old male. He is about 5 feet, 5 inches tall and in November of 2010 he weighed 259 pounds with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 40.

A BMI is a ratio calculated from a person's weight and height; it is the best proxy for body fat percentage and provides a reliable statistical indicator to assess risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

D.W.'s medical diagnoses included high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and asthma. Every three months he was paying "out of pocket" approximately $250 for his medications.

He knew that in spite of medical therapies his physical condition was putting him on the road to additional diagnoses that he just would rather not include in his medical portfolio.

So he decided to take the bull by the horns and signed up with Shannon Sorrels, an NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) certified personal trainer and owner of PHYSIX, here in Ahwatukee.

He began twice weekly intensive endurance and weight training classes, as well as once weekly distance training in which he started by simply walking as far as he could, which was only about a half of a mile.

He stopped eating fried food and junk snacks (mostly sweets) and kept his calories from fat sources to 25 percent of his total calorie intake.

His diet now focuses on chicken and fish for his protein and includes lots of fruits and salads. He supplements his daily meal plans with healthy low-fat protein bars and protein powder drinks.

Being a data-manager type of guy, he kept detailed records of his progress and it is this progress and remarkable achievement I'd like to present to readers as just one more exhortation to consider the difference that changing to a healthier eating plan, along with the inclusion of high intensity exercise at least three times a week, could make in each of your lives.

In November of 2010 D.W.'s numbers looked like this:

• Total cholesterol: Just under 200 (normal should be less than 200).

• HDL: Less than 35 (normal should be more than 40).

• LDL: Just about 100 (normal should be less than 130).

• Triglycerides: About 325 (normal should be less than 150).

• Total cholesterol/HDL ratio: 5.5 (normal should be less than 4.5).

You may be tempted to say his numbers don't look "that bad," but taken together with his weight, his BMI, his high blood pressure, sedentary lifestyle and bad eating habits, we medical people know D.W. was a walking recipe for heart disease and diabetes. Fortunately, things have a happier ending.

By August of this year D.W.'s numbers looked like this:

• Total cholesterol: 120

• HDL: 40

• LDL: 60

• Triglycerides: 100

• Total cholesterol/HDL ratio: 3.0

His weight this past August was down to about 180 and his BMI is 30 and his blood pressure is normal without medications.

In March of this year he walked a half marathon (13.1 miles). He is currently hoping to jog part of his next half marathon in a few more months.

Lastly, his out of pocket expenses for medications is now zero, zip, nada. If nothing else convinces you, then at least saving $1,000 a year on out-of-pocket prescription medicines might.

• Agnes Oblas is an adult nurse practitioner with a private practice and residence in Ahwatukee Foothills. For questions, or if there is a topic you would like her to address, call (602) 405-6320 or email aoblas@newpathshealth.com. Her website is www.newpathshealth.com.

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