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.


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.


  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 :)

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

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