Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Health Screening


What nerdy person who also happens to chronicle their running adventures doesn't like playing with numbers?

I find myself calculating distances, paces, and time as I am running.  Okay, so maybe this isn't out of enjoyment and more from necessity.  But even so, I couldn't have gotten through XX (i.e., too many) years of education without developing some affinity for quantifying information -- just see THIS POST on the time I did a metabolic test.

So when I was given a chance to do a free health screening at work, I jumped/ran to the chance.  While I can't avoid the doctor forever, I could at least know that none of the below would send me there.

Of course, this involved a quick finger prick, which I hadn't considered before going.  As they say, "no pain, no gain."  I would have taken a photo of my finger, but I'd just be flippin' the bird.

I had four main measures done on me.  Well, more like five -- they took my weight -- though that's something I do on my own at regular intervals anyway.  The others are as follows.  I inserted charts below (click them to go to the source) for comparison purposes.

NOTE: I am pretty sure I am surrendering some of my HIPAA rights by posting my numbers, but obviously because I feel pretty confident that I am healthy by all normal standards.

Cholesterol:

Basically, these are the lipids (fats) in your blood.  That sounds icky, but some amount is necessary for good health.  For example, cells need fats delivered to them. 

I wasn't sure what to expect.  I eat healthy fats pretty regularly, as well as some unhealthy ones (Doritos, anyone?).

My Result: 164 (79 HDL; They didn't do LDL or Triglycerides)

According to this chart, I'm doing pretty well in this area. :)


Blood Sugar:

Also called glucose level, this measure accounts for the amount of sugar in your blood.  This area made me a little nervous (and not just because of the blood draw!), as I eat more candy than I think most people do.  Admittedly, my love for sweets is a little much nearly every day.

My Result: 72

I had eaten about 2 hours before my test, so this is a non-fasting number.  I was a bit surprised at the fact that my result was fine, even compared to the fasting number.  While this doesn't give me a license to dig into more candy (my dentist would also disagree), my paranoia about acquiring diabetes has been tamed a bit.


Blood Pressure:
This number represents the pressure on your artery walls, created by the pumping heart as well as the condition of your arteries.  I do sometimes do measures of this at drug store pharmacies or just for fun wherever they have a machine, and it DOES vary.  Though I must say that the person who measured it on me made it squeezed VERY hard!

Salt, stress, and other factors can raise your blood pressue, though I hear endurance sports helps keep it down.  I definitely have my share of the two S-words I stated, but I'm hanging in there. :)

My Result: 102/66




Body Fat:

Body fat composition is a number that states how much of your body is composed by fat, versus muscles and other bodily junk. ;)  My sister had this body fat scale that I used to jump on whenever I came to visit her.  Though it was set for her height, I was close enough in stature to take the results wholesale and was always unsettled by what I saw.  I generally knew that women have about 20% body fat, and I was above (sometimes quite a bit above) that.

After entering my height and weight into a little machine that looked like a steering wheel, the nurse told me to extend my arms and grip the electrodes.  The machine supposedly sent a current through me and returned my body fat percentage.

My Result: 18.8%

I guess all my running has paid off???  I'm thinking the real number is closer to the 20% even though they told me during my consultation that these numbers were assuredly accurate.  I think my weight is off due to me recovering from a cold, so I'm sure that threw it off.  I don't consider myself all that lean (especially due to my eating habits), and although I have some obvious muscles, I don't think I'm "under fat" as this chart indicates. :/



So what did I gain from this experience?  Well, I did get some piece of mind knowing that my blood sugar is fine and my body fat percentage has lowered over the years.  (I never thought I could reverse the trend of steady weight gain I had been having in my late teens/early 20's.)  I also got to geek out over numbers for a while.

Finally, seeing that I did so well has encouraged me to continue and perhaps further focus on maintaining my health.  I get no free pass to slack off on making better food choices or regular workouts.  And really, this is no chore at all -- I love experimenting with healthy cooking that doesn't upset my stomach and of course, I love training for and competing in races.  So really, this should all be second nature to me, and I need to remember how good it feels to be healthy for those times when I feel like neglecting my health.

3 comments:

  1. I wish I could get free tests like this at work!! That's so cool. Looks like you are doing pretty well with those numbers Julie :)

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  2. I'd love to get my BF under 20%!

    I'm due for labwork soon - we'll see how I look.

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