I get to do the coolest work in my role as Principal for Balance Integration! Today I led a seminar for a corporate client to educate and engage their employees around understanding the results of a recent biometric screening.
A biometric screening is a preventative “health check” to get a reading of blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose levels, body composition and BMI. Sometimes other measurements are included such as PH levels and hydration levels, among others.
The goal of the talk was to help participants understand their numbers and more importantly, what to do about them.
Many people fear their numbers and prefer ignorance. I suggest the opposite: embrace them. Knowledge is power!
In so many aspects of our lives, we are over informed. Reality TV and social media pull back the curtain on the private lives of everyone around us, whether we actually know the person or not. The 24-hour news cycle feeds into that. The hot topic of the moment is Prince. The public is consumed with knowing details around his death, yet when it comes to understanding one’s own health, not so much.
When is the last time you had a check up? Inquired about your family medical history? Took an objective look at your abdomen to gauge dangerous weight gain?
Well today is the day, my dear friends! Even if you don’t know your numbers (yet), use this guide to understand what to strive for.
The good news is, YOU CAN IMPACT YOUR NUMBERS. All it takes is the desire, commitment and some small changes.
True there are factors that you cannot influence: age, gender, ethnicity, and family history are all built in. However, knowing that heart disease runs in your family, for example, is a clue to what your future may hold. That’s awesome data you can act on and take steps to be the first in your family to avoid it!
So what do these measurements mean? Below is a cheat sheet for you:
Blood Pressure: Blood pressure readings consist of two numbers. The top number is your systolic pressure, or the pressure for when your heart beats. The bottom is your diastolic number, or the pressure for when your heart is at rest (in between beats). High blood pressure increases the heart’s workload, causing it to become thick and stiff. You want it to be flexible and nimble.
Body Mass Index (BMI) and Body Composition: BMI is a weight to height measurement. It’s important to keep it in context, as one with a lot of muscle mass may have a misleadingly high BMI. BMI is a powerful tool when used in conjunction with other measurements such as waist circumference and percentage of body fat. Body fat settled in the abdomen is a troubling sign of a possible candidate for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and/or high blood pressure. Body fat percentage overall is helpful to understand whether you need to work on turning fat mass into lean muscle mass.
Cholesterol: Cholesterol is a naturally produced waxy fat substance found in all cells. It is either made in the liver, or generated through foods we eat, specifically animal products (i.e. meats and dairy). We NEED cholesterol (especially the good kind, HDL) to produce cell membranes, hormones, vitamin D and to help digest food. It is critical for neurological function. In fact (as I’ve written about before), some studies show that low cholesterol can be a factor in developing dementia and Alzheimer’s. Your total cholesterol number is made up of LDL (bad cholesterol) plus HDL plus a percentage of Triglycerides. Triglycerides are a necessary type of fat used to store excess energy that can be called on when needed.
Glucose: Found in dietary carbs (sugar, starch and fiber), glucose is the main source of energy used by the body. It is transported through the bloodstream to give energy to all cells. Cells cannot use glucose without the hormone, insulin (produced in the pancreas). Insulin is the “key” to open and close your cells to let glucose enter the bloodstream.
Now that you know the basics, let’s look at the ideal numbers to minimize risk:
You want your numbers to fall within the above ranges, but do not panic if they don’t. Through lifestyle changes, you can influence many of them! I want to reiterate: you can influence your numbers.
How, you ask?
First, be sure to talk to your doctor and follow his or her advice. Communicate your willingness to make lifestyle changes with the goal of reducing or keeping you off medications, and commit to doing so.
Then start to make that happen, using the list of suggestions below:
- Quit smoking
- Avoid processed foods
- Read labels
- Avoid foods with long ingredient lists
- Do a pantry makeover
- Make a plan
- Insert your suggestion here!
Choose just one or two and start making strides today.
The important thing is to tackle fear around getting, reading and understanding your numbers. With that knowledge, you’ll know what areas to prioritize, work on, and can put measurement tools for success in place.
Now go get that check up, lasso some information and get cracking!
Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™
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