My friend/nutritionist/fitness coach, Joanna, recently mentioned during my weekly “weight loss” group at the gym that we should determine why we want to lose weight. And if we say “to be healthy” then we needed to define what healthy meant to us.
I’ve thought a lot about “healthy” this week. That is the one thing I have said since starting my weight loss journey. I want to be healthy so I can enjoy my children, and my grandchildren, (and maybe some great-grandchildren) for a long time. Looking better in my clothes is only icing on the cake (or, in the spirit of being healthy, granola on the yogurt!).
Earlier this week, I had a health screening for a new job I am starting soon. I was happy to find that they screen not only height, weight and vital signs but also cholesterol and blood sugar. I was very pleased with my results and it gave me a few things to continue working on. I only wish I had some test results from when I started to compare them to! Looking at my results got me thinking even more about what healthy means.
Here are a few things that define (physical) health to me and where I am in achieving my goal of being “healthy”.
1. Healthy BMI. I think that the BMI scale is flawed. It does not take into account body build so a very muscular bodybuilder could be considered overweight based strictly on height and weight. However, I think it’s a great tool for measuring success and it does give me a goal to aim for.
According to my employer’s BMI chart I was teetering on the morbidly obese line back in January. Yes, seriously. Now I don’t know about you but when I think morbidly obese I think mama from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. I certainly don’t think about myself being morbidly obese! But it’s true. For my height…I was very close to being in that category. While I am still in the obese category now, I am happy to say that I have decreased my BMI by 5 points so far! So that is my first goal to work on…getting into a healthy BMI range and staying there!
2. Good cholesterol levels. I had one high cholesterol reading many, many years ago (it was over 200–and this was before children and back when I was seemingly much healthier than I am now). I have no idea what my cholesterol has been since then because it hasn’t been checked in years. I found out yesterday that my total cholesterol is 141 which is normal! My LDL (the bad kind) was also in perfect range.
My HDL (the good kind) is low at 31. It should be between 40-50 and for women, at least 50. So I have some work to do in that department. The higher the HDL the better because it means your body is effectively removing the bad cholesterol from your blood vessels. Anything below 40 puts you at risk for heart disease (which is rampant in my family). I know with continued good nutrition and exercise I’ll get the HDL up. I don’t like fish but I’ve been thinking about starting on fish oil (Aaron has been taking it for awhile) and seeing if that will help.
3. Normal vital signs. My resting blood pressure yesterday was 120/72. I’ve never had an issue with my blood pressure and it usually runs a little low so this was a good reading for me. My resting heart rate was 78. No problems in this area!
4. Normal blood sugars. My blood sugar yesterday was 99–and that was after eating corn flakes and milk for breakfast and a sandwich for lunch (lots of carbs). So that was excellent!
5. Physical endurance. This one will be harder to measure but I can already see that my endurance during classes at the gym is improving. When I started taking Turbokick I could barely keep up and would be so sore the next day that I could hardly walk! There are also a couple of routines during the class that involve tapping the floor. The first few weeks I couldn’t even come close during the “get down hit the floor” part! And I can do it now! I still struggle through some of the classes but it’s getting better! I can also run for longer periods of time and spinning is not nearly as hard as it was the first time!
One thing I plan on doing is running a 5K. I have my sights set on one in July and once we finish the Champ Camp Weight Loss Challenge in May (a weight loss challenge offered by my gym) I will be able to focus my attention on improving my endurance running. My goal is to finish my first 5K. I don’t care about the time–I just want to sign up, do it, and complete it!
6. Muscle tone. Again, this one is a little difficult to measure however I can already see that I can lift heavier weights at the gym. I also can do about 10 push-ups at a time now (girl push-ups, but it’s a start!) and three months ago I couldn’t even do one! I once read that if you lose weight without weight training, you’ll just end up being a smaller, flabby version of yourself.
I think I’m heading in the right direction! What defines (physical) health to you?