Mary Kmak has turned her life around, losing over one hundred and twenty-five pounds, and found a path to health through the Tucson Medical Center Wellness program. In Mary’s Promise she shares tips, recipes, challenges that she has learned along the way. Today, she updates us on her progress and talks cholesterol. Mary’s Promise reflects her experience and does not constitute medical advice. Please consult your primary care physician before embarking on an exercise regime.

Hello Readers,

When I was 125 pounds heavier I had my blood work taken with my yearly physical. At that time my total cholesterol was 208mg/dL which is considered high. My doctor explained to me the following levels:

GOOD:  170 mg/dL or lower

BORDERLINE: 170 to 199 mg/dL

HIGH: 200mg/dL or higher

As you can see, my 208 cholesterol levels was above the suggested, and with these high cholesterol levels I was at increased risk for heart disease, heart attack or a stroke. My doctor gave me an ultimatium, I had to get my cholesterol in three months or I would be put on medication to bring it down. Some people need medications and others can bring it down by making a lifestyle change.

Two weeks after that wake up call from my physician, I got a message from TMC’s Laurie Ledford RD. TMC was offering wellness classes to the public. Prior to this call I went to a TMC nutritionist and inquired about their wellness programs because I saw some information on the television one evening about their employee programs. At that time I was told by the dietitian that it was only for the TMC employees. Laurie’s call was the beginning to my journey.

This week I had my three-month blood work test and my count is the lowest ever at 127 mg/DL. For the past year I ran in the 130s and 140s within good levels.  What I learned though the TMC help me succeed with lowering my cholesterol to a good safe level. Here’s what I do:


I choose healthier fats by leaner cuts of meats whenever I eat red meat, more vegetables, low fat dairy products and monounsaturated fats found in olive and canola oils. I eliminated the trans fats found in fried foods, cookies, crackers and baked goods. I added foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids by adding walnuts, almonds and ground flaxseed over salads and smoothies.


Do what exercise you like and will continue to do daily.  I started out with a five minute daily walk and rode my Exercycle twelve minutes 3 times a week. Today I walk 12,000 steps daily and ride my Exercycle 30 minutes. What helped me was TMC offered a one hour weekly exercise class with their profession personal trainer. Get into an exercise program with others as your support group or buddy up with a friend and exercise together. This will help keep you motivated.


Even if you are just a few pounds overweight that contributes to high cholesterol. Even losing 10 pounds can help improve your cholesterol levels.

By making small changes you can help yourself and your health. Know your numbers and make the changes you need.

Mary H Kmak

Health Warrior

Want to make the kind of changes that Mary has and see similar results? Make an appointment to see one of TMC’s Registered Dietitians for a one on one and gain a whole world of scientifically-based, tried and true techniques to improve your health and fits your individual lifestyle.