Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Now we’re coming up on crunch time. No, I don’t have a big race coming up. It’s something bigger. I have a blood test.
Stop. Wait. There are blood tests for some pretty dire and scary things out there, and this isn’t one of those. But it’s big enough.
Back in August, I had my annual physical (for the second time since I turned 40; no one ever said cartoonists and writers were too good at math). I scheduled it for a week before Ironman Louisville, thinking I was smart. I mean, you don’t want to embarrass yourself at your physical. (Actually, it was profoundly stupid, since the last thing you want is to get sick just before the big race, and in terms of germ habitat, doctor’s office lobbies rank third, behind only kindergartens and Howard Hughes’ imagination.)
Anyway, I was healthy enough except for one thing: I was 6 percent body fat, and apparently all of it was in my bloodstream. My cholesterol levels had reached a crisis point. It was time to go on statins, cholesterol drugs. Now, make no mistake, I’m happy we have drugs. I just don’t want to use them. Especially drugs that list muscle weakness among their side effects. I’m still using mine. So I cut a deal with my doctor to give me three months to make whatever tweaks remained available to make with my diet.
Surprise! Upon closer inspection, it turns out I’d been eating a lot worse than I thought. I had visions of going to a dietician for some highly expert and expensive modifications, but the difference between what I’d been doing and the basic Michael Pollan mantra (1. Eat food; 2. Not too much; 3. Mostly plants) was good for a seismic enough shift on its own.
What I can see so far is good. I’ve lost 8 or 10 pounds from my Ironman weight. I go faster easier without that extra weight. (Der.) And I feel terrific. And while I’d much rather look better, go faster and feel terrific without giving up cheese, freezing in the pool and having to go shopping for smaller pants, it all has to be taken as good news. But that’s all relatively superficial stuff. The linchpin of the whole thing is about to come down. Blood draw Friday, office visit and results next Thursday. It’s my new priority-A race for the year. Let’s hope I make the podium this time.
Posted by Jef Mallett at 10:46 AM