#WhatsBeautiful : Knowing Your Numbers

This week’s installment of the Under Armour What’s Beautiful campaign focuses on knowing the inside of your body. As a reminder I am working with FitFluential on this campaign and have been compensated for my promotion, all opinions are my own.

I’ve mentioned before I never paid too much attention to my health stats, things like cholesterol, blood pressure or whatever else never registered as important to me. Mostly it was because the numbers were good. I assumed age or genetics were on my side and I was too young to need to care. When the numbers weren’t so good, I was in denial of the damage I was doing with my lifestyle choices and hoped age and genetics would correct my wrongdoings.

The first time I ever truly noticed a health statistic was at a health fair back in 2007. I stepped onto a scale and it was well over 180 pounds.  For my 5’1″ frame this was terrible. Considering the struggles I went through as an adolescent to come down from the same weight range, it was also terrifying and embarrassing. Luckily this was when I lost nearly 50 pounds due to diet changes and exercise, I have NEVER shared a “before” picture of myself on this blog. In nearly 4 years of writing I’ve kept it hidden. Well, here it is…and yes I realize it isn’t full body, I don’t have many pictures from that time in my life and those I did keep weren’t the full bodied images.

Health fairs and company sponsored information have continued to motivate and haunt me over the years. Despite a significant weight loss once upon a time, I have somehow managed to put back on 20 of those pounds and struggle constantly with my weight.  At times it is the comfort of knowing I am not hurting myself internally that keeps me going.

Friday I attended the most recent function at my place of employment. I’d like to share with you the changes in my numbers from my assessment in March compared to now.

  • Total Cholesterol : Down from 170 to 163
  • Good Cholesterol: Down from 92 to 66
  • Non-HDL Cholesterol: Increased from 78 to 98
  • Cholesterol Ratio: Increased from 1.8 to 2.5
  • Blood Pressure: Was 106/74 now was 110/74
  • Flexibility : Increased from 15″ to 18″

My total cholesterol has gone down, this is probably good, even if it wasn’t high before. My good cholesterol has also gone down, wonder why? From what I am reading online it may be because I switched to weight training instead of weight bearing for a while and the number should be headed back up since I’m back to running. My non-HDL has increased which concerns me and I don’t have an answer because I swear I’m watching what I eat. I am also worried the ratio has increased, although anything under 3.5 is within the goal. My blood pressure remains steady (lower than average, but not as low as it used to be for me).

My weight is not good. It has gone up a lot since November and even went up a little since March. I went from 152 to 161 to 164. My BMI and body fat percentage place me as “Moderately obese”. Not gonna lie, this made me cry. I will fully admit I am overweight, I need to lose weight, but I do NOT think I am “Moderately obese”, I do NOT think I look “that bad”.

It’s so frustrating to not see those numbers budge, when so many other numbers are improving. Then again, I wasn’t at all healthy in 2006, but I wasn’t much better in 2007. I barely ate, I constantly worked out and was always tired. I need to find a middle ground.

There were two other interesting tests they ran on me on Friday, bone density screening and pulmonary functioning.

The last time I did a bone density screening one was years and years ago, I was so bad off they had NO IDEA what was wrong with me. It looked like I would for sure be getting osteoporosis. This time? I was a perfect score! No signs of issues at all! I was SO SO SO happy! Apparently all the exercise, calcium and vitamin D is working. Oh and I feel the need to say this: I NEVER take extra vitamins or supplements, so this was all accomplished using diet and exercise.

The other test was the pulmonary function test.

I was breathing in and out of a tube, then I took a quick deep breath in and a hard, but steady breath out. Very simple. With this very simple test they were able to tell me about my lungs. Anything over a score of 80% is considered “good”. For my breathing in test I was at a 95 percent. Then for my breathing out I was at 88 percent. I wished that was higher, but I’ll take it. As a runner I worry about my breathing at times. I’d LOVE to have V02 Max run in the future. I know from the past at ERs and stuff I’m always well oxygenated. Now the most interesting and troubling thing about this test? There were a few sections where I should have been 80+ and I was 50s or 60s! Yikes! She (tech) told me they couldn’t know for sure based on this test (clearly), but typically those numbers being reduced indicate tar and/or nicotine deposits. WTF. She asked if I ever smoked or lived with a smoker. I don’t . I HATE SMOKE. I stay away from it as much as possible. My Mom did smoke when I was younger, but I didn’t think she did in the house and she quit when I was in high school. I asked how to “fix” that and the tech said I couldn’t. Once the damage is done, it can’t be changed. Luckily it isn’t having an impact on my performance or function, but crap, isn’t that scary? Guess who is staying extra away from smokers now!

Knowing my numbers is only part of my journey, to follow along with all my goals and to create your own join me in the Under Armour What’s Beautiful campaign. I LOVE how people are looking at this as more than a physical fitness challenge, there really is something for everyone.

Tell me. Do you keep an eye on your levels? Have you had any interesting bone, lung or body testing conducted lately? Do you see the value and beauty in knowing your numbers?

***EDIT*** There were two things pointed out I wanted to add to this post.

1) Numbers and lifestyle are just two factors in the big picture. Age, Race, Family History and the like all play a big role in risk factors and protective factors. I didn’t mention it because I don’t know most of mine, so I rarely get an inside look into how that all works

2) I understand health fairs are not advanced screenings and anything “unusual” should very much be checked and reviewed by your primary care doctor. I simply love them because if it wasn’t for the health fair in 2007 I don’t think I ever would have realized what I was doing to my body and if it wasn’t for a different health screening in 2011 I never would have learned about my heart condition and we all know how that was literally a life saving thing. So, do the fairs, but take ’em with a grain of salt (skip the salt if you have high BP) ( ;

12 thoughts on “#WhatsBeautiful : Knowing Your Numbers

  1. good for you for being brave, sharing the photos, but most importantly for making such healthy changes in your life! you’re such an inspiration!

  2. Great job in putting yourself out there with your numbers and pictures. As someone who is usually do these kinds of tests on people, I do follow up with while it’s important to know numbers, it doesn’t give the whole picture. Sometimes risk factors such as age, family history, etc play a bigger role even when you are doing all the right stuff.

  3. I had my blood work done two years ago and everything was good. I wouldn’t worry too much about readings that seem “off” at a health fair — especially that breathing test. You might have done better with practice. 😉

    • I did wonder about that a little because I wasn’t exactly sure HOW to do the test and was taken back when she said “blow out” and I know I paused. Oh well. Still interesting to know those tests are out there! I mean it was a routine EKG that revealed my heart problem a few years ago, so without that I’d be a ticking time bomb of death lol

  4. I hear ya on this! So many people said, “You look great!” when I was at my lowest but what they didn’t know was that I counted every calorie and limited my intake…not healthy at all. Hang in there. We’re all still finding our groove. =)

  5. At my lightest I was 193 and training for a 1/2 marathon and was still considered overweight by 20 pounds. It was/is super frustrating! I had to (am still) working on letting go of what I am “suppose” to be for what I am. I am strong. My resting hear rate is between 58 and 62. I make healthy choices. You “morbidly obese” picture montage was inspiring. Keep up the great work!!!

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