Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Healthy Know How...Measuring Success

by guest blogger Cynthia
Hello!

Let’s really talk here.  For most of us, the scale is our go to for quick confirmation of our success.  But I have to tell you the scale is NOT your friend.  The scale does not know the difference between muscle, water or fat.  Honestly for me something like that is not my friend.  There is so much emotional baggage between me and my scale – when it goes up I am sad, when it goes down I am happy.  But the truth is the scale doesn’t know me or know if today I didn't drink enough water, or had too much salt or just needed a bathroom break when I got on the scale. So push that scale aside, or put it someplace where you don’t step on it multiple times per day or even multiple times per week and look at other ways to measure your success. Put the scale in perspective and use the following as better “success” measuring tools for the lifestyle changes that you implement.



KNOW YOUR NUMBERS
That is know your cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, A1C and your blood pressure.  These numbers are key numbers that you and your physician should be tracking.  If your physician is not talking to you directly about these numbers – ASK.  Ask for a copy of your blood work so that you know where you stand.  QUESTION anything that you don’t understand. You can also put detailed lifestyle change plans in place with your physician if your numbers are borderline or high.  Your physician can act as a great motivator for change due to your accountability to them.  All of these numbers react to nutrition and exercise or lifestyle changes. Keeping your numbers in the low to mid normal range will work in your favor on your quest to be healthy.

The information below for KNOW YOUR NUMBERS is found on WebMD

Cholesterol – is the fatty substance that naturally occurs in the blood. It is composed of HDL, LDL and triglycerides.  Total cholesterol is important as well, however the individual values of HDL, LDL and triglycerides are more important. Total cholesterol less than 200 mg/dL (mg/dL is milligrams per deciliter of blood – the nomenclature for measuring any substance in the blood) is best.

HDL – high-density lipoprotein, is the good fat and research says protects the heart  – above 50 mg/dL is best.

LDL low-density lipoprotein, is the bad fat , less than 100 mg/dL is best.

Triglycerides – is fat in the blood from digested foods and are impacted by eating sugar and white flour.  Less than 150 mg/dL is best.
   
Fasting Blood Glucose – measures the amount of glucose in your blood typically after an 8 hour fast.   A value of less than 100 mg/DL is acceptable.
    
A1C– this is your body’s average level of blood sugar over a 120 day cycle.  Less than 5.7% is best.
   
Blood Pressure – is a measurement of the force applied to the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood through your body.  Above 140/90 taken on 2 separate occasions is considered high.
  • systolic - pressure when the heart beats and the arteries fill with blood (top BP number)
  • diastolic - pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats (bottom BP number)
BODY FAT
This measurement should be used as a tool to measure your progress of losing body fat. The more body fat you lose the better off you will be especially since body fat can and does accumulate around our organs.  Acceptable body fat percentages are different depending on your gender, fitness and age.  

Normal for an average non athletic male is 18 – 25%.  
Normal for an average non athletic female is 24 – 31%.  
A complete breakdown of acceptable percentages of body fat can be found on WebMD . Working to reduce your body fat, not just your weight, will help in the preservation of your muscle on your quest to be healthy.  

There are multiple methods of getting your body fat measured.  There is underwater weighing, body fat calipers and bio electrical impedance devices. Some methods are better than others but what really makes sense is that which keeps you focused and on track for success.

Underwater weighing (water displacement)– while the most accurate in measuring body fat, this method is the most inconvenient and the most costly. You have to find a facility to do this (and those are limited), schedule an appointment, change into swim wear and oh by the way you cannot be claustrophobic at all (something they failed to tell me until I was in the lab – but I sucked it up and went thru with it – how bad could it be..huh).  Measurements and weight are taken on land. You are put in a basket (ok not the technical term), told to blow out all the air in your lungs (impossible) and submersed under water a couple of seconds (which feels like minutes).  This is repeated multiple times, some calculation are done and an average body fat percentage is determined. Not a great experience for me but…just me!

Body fat Calipers most convenient however this is a tool and method that you cannot do alone. There are 3 sites where a skin fold needs to be taken and measured using the calipers.  The back of the arm, the lower abdomen and the top of the thigh – so you have to partially undress for this method but it can be done at home.  The skin fold pinches are measured multiple times and then averaged to give you an overall body fat percentage based on a chart. This again is not 100% accurate as the location of the skin fold pinches will always be slightly different each time.  This method should always be repeated by the same person to eliminate any “testing bias” introduced by how this person used the tool. Again this is just a measurement to help you gauge if you are going in the right direction – preferably down in body fat.

Bio electrical Impedance – this is the technology behind some of the more sophisticated scales that also provided body fat measurements.  Again very convenient but higher level of inaccuracy.  This technology is interesting as they send a very low undetectable electrical current from one side of your body to the other. Muscle, fat and water all have different densities and therefore electrical current will travel thru each at a different speed. What the bio electrical impedance device measures is how fast that current returned to the device. Takes that info and does some calculations to provide you with a percentage of body fat.  A simple tool to help measure that you are on the right track.

CLOTHING ( non stretch clothing which at the moment does not fit)
While not scientific at all my 100% cotton Levis keep me honest in my activity and on track with my eating.  This may sound funny to most, but I have had these jeans a long time as part of my wardrobe.  I have replaced them twice with smaller sizes but I have consistently gone with the same brand and the same cut because I like them and I could use them as my measuring tool.  At one time a staple – my originals are well worn now but still serve the purpose of keeping me honest (even if they are loose garden wear).  I wear the new ones enough to know when they feel a bit snug in an area or a little looser in an area.  The goal here is again a gauge – going down and not up.
No matter what method you select to gauge your success, stick with it.  Get measured the same way every time. Don’t be concerned about absolute numbers as each has its’ own level of inaccuracy.  Concentrate on moving the numbers down or into a “normal” range.



WORKOUT WEDNESDAY BONUS …FUNCTIONAL MOVE  – add this to your routine for an exercise that will condition  you head to toe – my favorite BURPEES.  Do for 60 seconds as many as you can do.  When you can get 25 in 60 seconds, reduce your time and try to do more i.e. do 26 in 55 seconds.  Add this to your routine as often as you like – 60 seconds is all you need.

This video is from XHIT Daily and is  performed by Kelsey Lee "How To Do a Burpee
You can always reduce intensity by removing all or some of the jumps and replacing those with step back and step forward.



Remember consistency is key, life is going to happen, so plan your work and work your plan!

Always in Fitness ,
Cynthia

25 comments:

  1. This is really sage advice. Thank you so much and enjoy your day.

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    1. Glad you are enjoying - we definitely have more to come so stay tuned. Thanks

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  2. Great post. I have a love/hate relationship with the scale. There are so many variables to take into consideration when using the scale so I try to keep that mindset when I weigh myself. I can see in the mirror how I look and go by how my clothes feel to know where I stand and like you said to "keep me honest".

    Jas

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    1. Awesome to know that you have already taken the correct steps to measure yourself and are happy with those steps. That is really most important. I have been working out a long time and I have just begun to realize in the past 5 years or so is that the scale is NOT my barometer for happy/sad, it is just a number and that is all. So thanks for reading.

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  3. Thanks for the info...very helpful.

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    1. Nicole..thanks for tuning in. Good to know this is useful info. Mimi's vision is to help and I am on board with that.

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  4. This is information soooooo true. The only time I step on a scale is at the dr's ofc. Otherwise I know and obey the numbers that really matter.

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    1. Kica I have to lol as I had to figure it all out as well. Yep the numbers that really matter get you healthy from the inside out. That is the right way to do things. Best of luck and I know you will be remain successful.

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  5. Thanks Cynthia, can't agree enough about the idea of using clothing as a measure of success. When things get too tight it's time to take action!! Worst thing to do is wear stretchy clothes all the time, when you get outta control by the time you realise it's long road back!! Thanks to you and Mimi for great advice!

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    1. Miss J - that is such a good point about wearing very stretchy clothing all the time. I try to wear workout clothes only when I workout. I do sew so I have stretch denim and knits but they don't have as much give as my workout clothes. So I try to wear clothing that keep me "mindful" and that is what it is all about - being mindful of what you eat and do.

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  6. Great article! Glad to hear I am not the only who uses her jeans (mine are GAP, ha!) as her guide for maintaining weight :) I have a huge issue with carrying water weight so I TRY not to get too discouraged when the scale tips out of my favor. And burpees are always a part of my normal workout routine as well. Great calorie buster and provides full body workout.

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    1. Brooklynlava if GAP works who can argue that!! GAP, Levis all the same if it keeps you honest right? Please don't get discouraged with the scale in fact you know the times that you are "carrying water", so just bypass the scale and don't give it a second thought. Wow I love it that burpees are part of your normal routine - they are tough. I remember as a kid they were nothing. Then at bootcamp (many years ago) my instructor added burpee drills and it took me a few minutes for my head to convince my body that this is something I could do. So it did not look pretty and was not very easy then. And my bootcamp instructor continues to add changes which make the burpees challenging to this very day. So keep it up - they make you stronger all over - not to mention they torch calories. Maybe we all should do a burpee challenge - what do you think??

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  7. Mimi,
    It is motivating to see your post about the scale not being our "friend" because I was just talking to friends about this issue and how I plan to start celebrating the "no scale victories" such as jeans fitting or having healthy numbers. Thanks and loved the post!
    Jasmine

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    1. Naturally_Jazz, I am so happy that you all are finding these post interesting. So often we get misinformation, wrong information or information that you need to figure out how to use. Hopefully here we can help by providing that information and allow you to ask as many questions as you need to understand it. Glad you are taking a "no scale victories" approach to things. I think if you can focus on something other than just your weight you will see many many positive successes

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  9. Thanks Cynthia for this reminder about the scale. I have a constant battle with the scale; so I use clothing to determine my progress. I also like to keep up with my numbers since I struggle with high blood pressure.

    Thank you for this post.

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    1. Zina..using your clothing is a great non scientific method. Yes staying on top of your numbers is very important with high blood pressure. Has your dr helped you with nutrition and exercise plans to help??

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  10. Hey Cynthia, GREAT post. I'm happy to say that my scale and I are no longer BESTIES, My clothes, are how I gauge my weight loss and I have been very pleased with the results. How often should I have blood work done?

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    1. Carolyn - I am happy that you decided to stop the madness with your scale as I too have kicked mine to the curb! If all your numbers are good then annually is fine. If there is something that you are working on I would do 3 months post the initial draw to see how you are doing. If things are going in the right direction then another draw in 3 - 6 months. If things are not going in the right direction a sit down with your dr is necessary so they can guide you on this. Hope that helps.

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  11. Thanks Cynthia for sharing the video! I went to the xhit channel and they have tons of great videos! My jeans are currently telling me that we had too long of a winter and I need to get out and move around. Great posts, thanks for the info.

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    1. Marla - I thought so too - xhit with really great videos. I know so many people making their own but I felt for me to invest the time and resources would be just crazy when so many other talented folks got great videos out there. Glad to know your jeans are talking to you. Awesome - now you have xhit channel you will never get bored.

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  12. Thanks for sharing this important information. I recently found out and I am currently monitoring my Blood Pressure. it was 140/100 at last visit, which was high for the 3rd time. Although I weigh myself everyday, I know I know, I shouldn't, but I don't let it discourage me when the numbers are not what I expect them to be. I go by how my clothing fit and how in shape I feel. I love the insight on being healthy so please keep it coming.

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    1. La Riesha glad to hear that you are taking control - the first step in combatting a problem is knowing that you have one. So doctors visits are important. You and your doctor can work out a plan that is right for you. Make that doctor work for you. Meds are a solution but may not be the only solution - so talk with your doctor about your goals based on this new discovery in your blood pressure. Keep us posted on you success. Great that you don't rely on only your scale. Also let us know if there are topics you want to hear about - we love the feedback.

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Thank you for taking time to comment ;-)

xoxo
mimi g.