Part 1: The cholesterol.
The blood was drawn, the results were in, the time was up. I went into my doctor’s office yesterday morning to review my lipid profile, and then I went home. Straight home. No stopping at the pharmacy to begin a lifetime sentence of expensive drugs that would predispose me to certain kinds of tissue damage -- or arguments about the power of drugs vs. the power of an elevated level of activity and fitness that's difficult to maintain when you can pull or tear a muscle doing what you used to call warming up.
I had dropped my total cholesterol by almost a quarter, from 239 to 184. Triglycerides and risk ratios dropped as well. Every single category is now well within the safe range. My doctor was astonished: “I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Even better is that I did it entirely by changing my diet. (Well, almost entirely. Fully entirely if you consider psyllium, i.e. Metamucil, a food group.) Such an approach had what you'd call side effects if they were less desirable. My weight dropped without my muscle mass dropping, which means my body-fat percentage went down. And I feel much better in general, and I run and bike faster (I would probably swim a little worse, with the lost buoyancy, if not for the swim coach and program that coincided almost exactly with the new diet). All this without any fancy program, or diet pill, or, really, even professional advice. I just quit eating some foods that were largely unhealthy and nearly completely optional. I also reduced my overall intake, which is logically easy when you consider that most of the foods I quit cold-turkey are foods that fall under the category of "convenient." And when the diet began just after Ironman Louisville.
But easy doesn't necessarily mean pleasant, and the fact is there are times when I miss my cheese, my butter, my Oreos (not that I ever buttered my Oreos, but only because it didn't occur to me until just now). So in a weird way, I'm almost grateful for the cholesterol diagnosis. Clearly, I had weight to lose but didn't know it. Clearly, I could feel better but didn't know it. Clearly, I could run faster but didn't believe it. Now I know. But knowing it and maintaining the willpower are two different things sometimes. It's easy to think that an El Azteco pig-out this evening can be corrected in time for a race six months from now. But now it's also easy to believe that that same, isolated meal will set off some kind of alarm at the pharmacy that I've violated my cholesterol probation and I'll be shackled to Crestor without a trial. That's equally illogical, but it might just be the external motivation I need when the internal motivation wavers.
Part 2: The book-release party
Mega thanks to everyone who came out to the Trizophrenia book-release party and signing at Schuler Books. You guys took care of the party while I signed and signed. I don’t know exact numbers, but I know standing room only when I see it, and I have to say I love how it looks. The store’s event coordinator told Patty it was a bigger crowd than a recent book-signing with my hero Elmore Leonard, and bigger than the crowd for the event going on simultaneously at their partner store across town with best-selling (and also awesome) writer Anthony Horowitz. The store closed at 9:30, but I didn’t get the last book signed until after 11:00. Incredible. Touching, really.
The odd thing is, among all the wonderful emotions, I felt guilty. A lot of friends – proving what good friends they are – interrupted their lives and traveled, quite a ways in a lot of cases, to the party. And I got to spend very little, and in a lot of cases, no time with them. But that’s because they know they can find me any time and I’ll happily sign their books without making them stand in a slow-moving line that snakes back past Science Fiction. And even better, they still stuck around after they bailed out of the line. Part of that was because Marc Barringer, my friend and fellow racer who also happens to be a preternaturally talented chef, had catered the event and given everyone a spread worth sitting through anything. And part of it was because, however it happened, I’ve got really cool friends, and they seemed to enjoy talking to each other every bit as much as talking to me. Which is perfect. The best parties are the ones where the host could disappear and no one would know. Sort of like I did.
That was a nice day. In two parts. If we’ve learned anything from either, it’s not to underestimate the power of food.