Friday, April 16, 2004

Unexpected Fun

I read the numbers, which were very bad. Total cholesterol 295. LDL way high, HDL way low. The exact numbers I didn't want to see: Numbers that said "Yup, and your grandpa keeled over of a heart attack at 62, too!"

The nurse smiled brightly and anxiously at me. "I'm sure that we've found this in plenty of time, and you're going to lick it!" she said. I believed in her compassion. I frequently do believe in the compassion of nurses. She was concerned about me, and concerned that the news might knock the fight out of me.

She needn't have worried. These were in fact the numbers I'd expected. Well, maybe not quite such a spectacular total. I didn't even know cholesterol totals could go that high. But I have subsisted most of my life on a diet of sugar and saturated fat -- it's totally unjust that I'm barely over the line into "obese"; if life were fair I would weigh three hundred pounds -- and some days I can actually feel the melted butter flowing in my veins, the plaque forming in my arteries.

So when I got back to work, Wednesday, I got online and signed up for the online Weight Watchers program. The program's changed a lot, and for the better, since the last time I was on it, in the 1980's sometime, which was the last time I saw 160 lbs. And if you derive great pleasure from tracking and calculating online, the web application is a blast. I've been enjoying pulling up their "point values" for various foods, which is entertaining and instructive. They've taken fiber to heart, and lost their big dietary cholesterol superstition (there never has been any reason to believe, so far as I can see, that ingesting less cholesterol reduces your blood cholesterol, except that you can't avoid cholesterol without avoiding saturated fat.) They treat all fats as equal (at least for point purposes), which is kind of silly -- two tablespoons of butter the dietary equivalent of three tablespoons of peanut butter? But otherwise their system works well, and it's extremely simple. I can already guess values for foods I haven't looked up pretty accurately.

So far I feel wonderful, and I slept like the dead last night. The icky oily feeling of having eaten too much fat is gone; I feel lighter and clearer already. It will get difficult, I sure -- the fun of tracking my food will turn into tedium soon enough, and soon I'll be hankering for large quantities of anything I can't have, just because I can't have it. But for now I'm just feeling happy, and having unexpected fun.

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