20 May 2009

Do you understand your numbers?

Everyone should learn what their "numbers" mean because it could save your life, or simply just save you from the aggravation of having to go to doctors frequently or take medications. If you knew what was too high or too low, you could make an attempt to fix it. Just like how you would take your car in for a diagnostic test, and fix the problem. It should matter to you that your body functions optimally, just like how you care about how your car functions because just like how a car can break down, so too can your body when you least expect it!

I pride myself on being proactive with my health because I see the results of my efforts, and I love to help and inspire others to do the same. You can have significant impact on your own health and it's something that can be easily learned and practiced. No one should feel intimidated by the tests and everyone should be diligent about discussing all results in detail with their doctors.

No one should ever wait for a doctor to give them the "wake up call" because things have gotten out of hand. As a young adult, the goal should be to maintain optimal health. As a person entering the 30s, 40s, and 50s, the goal should be to keep track of one's health each and every year. You should regularly understand what your blood tests results mean, and you should specifically note if there are any changes from one year to the next. Even if your doctor does not point out a change, say in your cholesterol from one year to the next, YOU should be aware of that change. Lots of doctors will make you believe you are ok, "in the range," and don't have a problem.

Consider that 2008 has perhaps been one of the most stressful years for most Americans ever in the history of this country, and in the history of their very own personal lives. The fact is many, many people in 2009 are dealing with the effects of how they processed 2008. Stress, weight gain, high blood pressure, higher cholesterol, heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, ADD, ADHD, autism... are affecting a higher portion of the population.

Have you taken time out to re-check how your body has sustained the past year? Sure, some people are not directly being impacted with the negative fall-out of our struggling economy, but some of those same people are still at home ...worrying. Worry alone can wreak havoc on a visually healthy person.

Often times when someone is not in ideal physical condition, they are told that they should "start exercising and eating right." Much of the time, this advice is ignored. It would be ideal if a patient/person could immediately be placed into a program instead of "advised" to seek one whenever they get around to it. This just proves that MOST people need a support system to help them to figure out how to get started, what to do, keep them focused, and see them to the end of their journey. If you are just given advice and then dismissed, you can surely feel lost and helpless.

I like to observe and point out real life situations, and bring them to the attention of people I meet so they can (a) relate, (b) see the truth and realize the significance of the situation. The Today Show took 5 of it's backstage people and asked them to go on a diet, changing how they eat, and incorporating some exercise for 6 weeks to see what the outcome would be. These people were all overweight, at varying degrees, with some underlying health issues..of different magnitudes. They were people who took their health for granted (perhaps NOT on purpose) and truly needed to make a change. Some of these people were on the borderline of facing major health problems if they did not make a change for the better.

Overall, every one of the 5 people emerged with a more pleasant and positive attitude about themselves personally and their outlook about their health conditions. It was a beautiful transformation to watch. They learned about their state of health initially so that they could monitor how their efforts would certainly benefit their health in a huge way. All together, the 5 people lost approximately 120 lbs and about 113 inches.

My fascination was not with the amount of weight loss, though it was certainly impressive, but more with the huge health improvements that they all experienced in just 6 short weeks. 6 short weeks!

One of many factors can tell a huge story

What are Triglycerides? Do you know? You should. Just knowing your overall cholesterol number is NOT a good indication of your true state of health. Just for simplicity, there are 3 parts of your cholesterol that should be known to YOU. Your HDLs, LDLs, and your TRIGLYCERIDES. In layman's terms, you want to have HIGH HDLs, LOW LDLs, and LOW Triglycerides. I have had people tell me, "my doctor says my cholesterol is fine because it's 200." When I went further to ask what the breakdown of the number was, they did not know what I was talking about. At that point, I asked them to share their bloodwork results with me (if they were comfortable) so that I could explain a few things to them that they should understand. When they came to realize that the signficance of the HDLs, LDLs, and triglycerides told a more significant story, they were thankful for the knowledge. Now they were confident enough to go back to their doctors to discuss the matters, as well as, hugely interested in making some necessary lifestyle changes to enhance their well-being.

The signficance of the just the "Tri's"

Triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fat exists in food as well as in the body. They're also present in blood plasma and, in association with cholesterol, form the plasma lipids. Triglycerides in plasma are derived from fats eaten in foods or made in the body from other energy sources like carbohydrates. Calories ingested in a meal and not used immediately by tissues are converted to triglycerides and transported to fat cells to be stored.

So, basically you don't want this fat existing in your body because it causes heart disease and stroke (obviously high cholesterol). But many people are NOT aware of the fact that they should pay attention to ALL of these numbers. Anything under 150 (for tri's) is considered normal, 150-199 is borderline high, 200-499 is considered HIGH and dangerous, and anything over 499 is very high, very dangerous.

I have sat in my doctors office year after year, and I would always hear, "oh your numbers are fine." Let me state that they would NEVER discuss my numbers in detail unless I brought it up. Just because I would tell them that I worked out and ate rather healthy, they would quickly try to conclude the visit with statements like, "well you are healthy and you have nothing to worry about." Well, I learned that I needed to be sure of that for MYSELF, not just because the doctor uttered those words to me. I bother to check and compare my numbers each year to make sure my efforts are still working.

The backstage crew of the Today Show came out with some amazing results after 6 short weeks. The average weight loss of each person was about 20-25 lbs. 2 gentlemen actually lost over 30 lbs. One guy, visually did not look morbidly overweight, but he clearly needed to address it. He probably was the nicest guy, a gem to work with, and had a loving family. His triglycerides at the start of the diet/program was 320, which is HIGH and dangerous. Well, at the end of 6 short weeks, he got it down to 89. 89...he went from HIGH dangerous, to now, below normal and HEALTHY.

The general consensus was that they all felt better, felt healthier, felt stronger. Knee pains and back pains vanished. A few of them got off medications for cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes. That's amazing!

If you have a health problem, don't choose to live with it. You can very well try to transform your life to become physically healthier, which will INDEED make you emotionally,mentally and psychologically healthier. Overall, you can increase your longevity and live a more fulfilling life.

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