June 08, 2009

The numbers are in!

We ALL know that women don't talk about their weight. Don't ask me my weight and don't tell me my weight either - I take those words ("and you weigh ... ") as fighting words! I mean we talk about weight issues but we will NEVER share what our actual weight is (i.e. unless you are uber satisfied with where you're at).

Today, I am taking the bold step of sharing with you my health statistics (not my weight - I'm not crazy) and some advice that I got from a wonderful (Trini) doctor, Dr. Mieres, who partners with the AHA for their BetterU program. My hope is that I will stay on track by actually writing my stats down and sharing them with the world and you'll benefit from the advice that I've received. So, here we go:

MET Level = 9.0 ... still don't really get this, but it's considered moderate and I need to be higher.

Fitness Category = Moderate ... same goes for this one. I need to get into the "High" category and that means that I have to start getting in some exercise for about 30-60 minutes at least 5 days a week - are they kidding me?

Total Cholesterol = 207 ... My cholesterol is "Borderline High" because it's between 200-239. I need to get it down to below 200. As you know, high cholesterol (fat like substance) is strongly related to an increased risk of heart disease and I think I can say without a doubt that my numbers are high because I have been physically inactive for a while and I've become a little (read a lot) overweight.

I didn't really know the difference between the HDL and LDL but now I've devised an easy way to remember the two (I know, it's quite elementary, but I've got so many other things to remember). The LDL cholesterol deposits cholesterol in the artery walls and may lead to build up. I've associated L-DL with "low" health quality. HDL cholesterol clears cholesterol out of your system. I've associated H-DL with a "high" health quality. The more HDL cholesterol you've got the better off you'll be.

LDL Cholesterol = 109 ... above optimal. I need to bring it down below 100.
HDL Cholesterol = 73 ... optimal - yeah me!!!! anything over 60 is good.

Triglycerides = 42 ... Normal - anything below 150 is normal. Triglycerides is a fat found in the blood and high level may increase chances of heart disease.

Fasting glucose = 80 ... Normal - anything below 110 is normal. This is your blood sugar and high levels may indicate diabetes.

Blood pressure = 120/68 ... Optimal - anything below 120/80 is normal. The most desirable is 130/85.

Another number that I never really understood. Skip this paragraph if you know all this already! The first number measures the pressure within the walls when the heart is actually pumping ("systolic pressure" if you need to know the terminology). The second number measures the force within the walls when the heart is relaxing between beats ("diastolic pressure"). Based on the information that I've gathered, this is the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps through the body. A healthy person's arteries are muscular and elastic and if for some reason the blood vessels are narrowed (e.g. build-up of fat in the arteries) it is harder for the blood to pass through the vessels. When that happens the blood pressure rises and your heart has to work harder causing strain on your heart and wear and tear on your arteries. One important point to note here is that there are no symptoms for high blood pressure - none!!! And, uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attack, stroke or kidney failure.
Weight = Don't ask!

BMI = Officially overweight - like I needed anyone to tell me this! A normal BMI or body mass index is 18.5-24.9. The experts say that BMI is probably more important that weight - yeah right? Clearly they haven't spoken to a woman recently. But seriously, the BMI takes into consideration both your weight AND height so it's a better estimate of your body fat and health risks.

Waist circumference = not good ... Waist circumference is important because increased fat tissue in the belly area increases your risk for many health conditions including heart disease and diabetes. Women need to have a measurement of less than 35.

So....I now understand a few of these numbers better and I know which of these I need to improve and with Dr. Mieres' help, I have a few strategies already lined up.

Exercise (another fighting word!)
At this time I need to walk at least 10,000 steps per day. It's not the goal at this point but the baseline. 10,000 steps isn't really that much when you're out and about so I've actually got to set aside some time just for walking to be able to go beyond that point. I also need to start working out for at least 20 minutes at least three times per week (kill me now, why don't you!) I am encouraged to take the stairs at work rather than the elevator; get of the bus a little earlier and walk about 10 minutes; take a walk at lunch rather than staying in my office; and walk like I'm late for an appointment. Apparently, to increase your physical fitness you don't have to kill yourself with a five-hour workout every day; but rather get in 10-minutes bouts of activity just as long as you can add it all up at the end of the day and get about 60 minutes worth of activity.

Log Book/Journal
I should start recording everything I eat and all exercise that I do on a daily basis to make sure that I'm on track and to get a feel for what's what.

Healthy food choices
First, I should have breakfast every day. Presently I eat oatmeal at least 5 or 6 times a week. I love oatmeal and it's an added benefit that it's good for me. However, what I didn't know was that I should add some fruit with the oatmeal as well. Fruit that's high in fiber is supposed to be good for reducing my waistline. Dr. Mieres suggested lots of berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries - any berry), kiwi, apples, pears. I should stay away from bananas and grapes - didn't get a chance to ask her why, but I will.

Second, I should be eating about 5 small meals a day. I think that'll have me eating ALL.THE.TIME! I'm not a snacker at all, but apparently, I should have healthy snacks in between my meals. I also need to reduce the size of those meals - so essentially, have three small to moderate meals and at least two or three snacks in between. Let me clarify, when I say snacks I mean a piece of fruit, yogurt or a handful of almonds - we're not talking about chips, cookies or candy - darn it!

Third, lunch should be small portions of complex carbs and protein. Make sure that there is some sort of salad, whole wheat or grain in there too. I typically eat some sort of frozen meal for lunch - Smart or Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine and the doctor recommends keeping a close eye on the sodium content in these meals.

Fourth, dinner should also include a protein and complex carbs. She suggested that I have fish at least twice a week - fatty fish like salmon or mackerel.

Fifth, drink at least 8 glasses of water. I drink a lot of coffee - both to stay awake and because I like coffee - so, I've got to stay away from the high coffee consumption and increase my water intake.

I would never have thought that Dr. Mieres would suggest this but she said that every night I should set aside at least 10 minutes to de-stress (I've go to share this one with hubby). She suggested creating some "me-time" by reading, listening to music, doing yoga or meditation. Whatever relaxes me, I should make sure that I do it before going to sleep.

The doctor suggests that making these little changes would result in a happier and healthier (and hopefully 1lb less per week) me!

So, there you have it (actually, this is really for me). I've written it all down and now I've got to make these small changes.

Are you becoming a Better U too! Let me know. Join the program...it's not hard at all!

Check out our bloggy partner Joshilyn for her Better U progress.


Mommy of Many said...

great post, I got all my numbers in yearly physical not too long ago and I admit there are a few numbers I need to work on but I really need to take the advice of the Dr. and de-stress every night. Thanks for sharing!

Sally's World said...

i think youre really brave, i don't want to know, i guess if i know, i'll have to do something about it, and i'm pretty sure mine wont be as good as yours lol!!!

Aretha said...

As I was reading, I didn't look to see who the author was, but when you said talking about wieght were fighting words, I knew it was you, lol.

I've joined and I've made a few small changes, but I fell victim to a bad decision today. This was extremely helpful in that I didn't know what a lot of those numbers meant. Thanks!

Justice Fergie said...

You're on your way! Good for you for taking the time to understand all of the numbers. I have to admit that, even after our assessments at Cooper, I still don'e entirely "get" everything!

And I had no idea about grapes...

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