Some months back I got some very bad news. My cholesterol was way too high, which is extremely bad news for me because I have an atrocious family history of heart attack and stroke. I've therefore done something about it. I'm doing the Dr. Ornish anti-heart disease diet. It can be done vegan or near-vegan. I'm doing it vegan, where you eat 100-percent plant-based food and use no cooking oils, no white sugar or white flour. It might seem extreme, but to me it's way less extreme than eventually having to have a doctor cut open my chest and graft a vein from my leg into my heart or of suffering a stroke and ending up unable to speak well or in a nursing home. The latter is what happened to my uncle. He was a great guy, successful, handsome, witty. After his stroke, he could no longer live at home, but had to be in an assisted-living facility. When he talked, it came out garbled and only people who got used to his speech could understand him. He couldn't even bathe or dress himself. It just plain sucked. It wasn't just him. Numerous members of my dad's side of the family have died of heart disease or stroke. There could be some hope that I got some genes from my mom's side that counter-balance this, but on her side a lot of people have died of cancer. My maternal grandfather also died of a heart attack, though he did smoke a lot and eat lots of fat. You hear of some people eating bacon and eggs every morning for breakfast, ham for lunch, and steak for dinner -- and similar foods every day -- and living to be a hundred. That's because they've got the DNA for that. Obviously, I don't. If I ate like that, I would die young. Therefore, there are foods that I like that I'm willing to give up. Swiss cheese is tough to give up because it's my heritage. My paternal grandparents were Swiss immigrants and I have tons of relatives back in Switzerland. Some of them own cheese-making companies that supply the world with its finest cheese. So to give up Swiss cheese is tough for me. Pizza with real cheese is difficult too. However, it's replaced with other food that's really good. Mexican food can be made really tasty vegan, as can Chinese, and Japanese. Lots of stuff works really well and satisfies me. I'm also exercising every other day. I have back and knee problems from old sports injuries going way back, so I'm limited as to what I can do. I would like to work out with weights, but that would cause me too much pain. Instead therefore, I'm doing yoga and then cardiovascular training on machines like exercise bikes, ski-mimicking machines, treadmills, etc. It's helping me to feel a lot better. As the yoga loosens me up, I might get my pain issues under control well enough to be able to train with weights. That would be awesome. My sister is actually a championship women's body builder. So far I've gone down from 229 to 206 and am feeling A LOT better. I also feel more mentally alert. I like to exercise my mind also. I've been busy learning French for the past year and a half. I find myself remembering new words better than before. When I was growing up in rural Texas, I never ever thought that one day I would be an ultra-strict vegetarian, giving up steak, burgers, and even all dairy and eggs. I never thought I would do supposedly "girly" exercise like yoga. However, this is what's working for me. The yoga is way more challenging than I expected. It doesn't just build flexibility. It builds strength. I'm never going to be able to become an world-class athlete and play for the Dallas Cowboys or by in the Olympics, but I can make myself way healthier than before and enjoy life to the fullest. I've also vowed never to be a prick about my lifestyle choices, hollering at people for eating steak, throwing paint on fur coats, and generally laying guilt trips on people who eat like I used to. That kind of crap is just plain rude and counterproductive. I'm just glad this stuff is improving my life. I've gotten help from a local vegan club here in the Boise area. I was delighted to meet others. I've been glad that they've turned out to be people who are easy going about it and don't go around trying to guilt anyone about their choices. The woman who set up the organization works at the Department of Fish and Wildlife service. Many of her coworkers, as you would expect, are big-time hunters, fishermen, etc. who love their outdoor grilling. She doesn't lecture them or try to tell them they're being evil. She just says they can do their thing and she'll do hers. I've still got a ways to go. I'm at 206 down from 229, but I want to get back to my college weight of 180. My cholesterol was 243. I want to get it down under 200, preferably about 160. It will take some time. I'm really hoping my old sports injury starts doing a lot better so that I can work out with weights. I used to do that in college and get all buff.