It took many of swim sessions to brainstorm about the topic of my Iron Girl monthly column, December article. With so much emphasis on tips and rules throughout the holiday season, I wanted to bring focus to a very important component of healthy living....knowing your numbers.
Although body composition can give some insight on your overall health, it doesn't paint the entire picture. Since being involved with the Baptist Heart Wise program as a clinical RD, I've heard some amazing stories from women who were screened for their heart age and never realized that they had a cardiovascular-related issue because they felt "healthy". I love working with athletes and fitness enthusiasts for that very reason. Health is something that you feel. I've received many emails from my nutrition and coaching athletes telling me how their lab values have changed due to exercise and nutrition modifications (thus impressing their primary physicians) but these changes came secondary to learning how to develop a healthier relationship with food and the body. There are many ways to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle....therefore, it's time to direct your energy away from the scale.
For my January Iron Girl article, I will be provided some tips on how you can create a positive home environment to accomplish your New Year goals but in the meant time, read the following article and discuss with your team of health professionals as to how you can learn a bit more about your overall health.
Meaningful Numbers- Focus Beyond the ScaleBy Marni Sumbal
In a recent gender and body image study, 1,800 U.S. Women over the age of 50 years were asked a series of questions pertaining to the body. Of the participants, 27% were obese, 29% were overweight, 42% were normal weight and 2% were underweight. Results of the study-4% binge eat -8% purge -70% diet to lose weight -36% dieted ~50% of the time in last 5 years -41% check body size daily -40% weigh themselves at least twice a week -62% report body weight negatively impacts their life -79% report body weight affects self-image -64% think about their weight daily (source: Environmental Nutrition Sept 2012, Vol 35, No 9.)
Around the New Year, the bathroom scale gets a lot of action. Whether the scale is seen as an enemy or supporter, it’s likely that your body image is on your mind and you are validating your health by a number on a screen.
Never forget that developing a healthy relationship with your body (and food) is a vital component of living a quality life. But, you cannot overlook a few very important numbers that can give you a good representation of your current health status. Knowing that the upcoming year will likely bring new changes, challenges and goals, your healthcare team (ex. primary physician, registered dietitian, OBGYN, dentist, optometrist, dermatologist, psychologist, and/or physical therapist) encourages you to understand your numbers in order to make it easier to drive behavior change. You can’t manage your cholesterol, reduce risk for heart disease or reduce risk for diabetes if you don’t know your numbers. Make an appointment today to get the truth behind your health.
Recommended tests1) Blood pressure 2) Weight, BMI and waist to hip ratio 3) Bone density scan (ex. DEXA) – for women 65+ years as well as postmenopausal women. Other individuals at risk for osteoporosis include individuals with history of bone fractures, smoking, vitamin D deficiency, excessive caffeine or alcohol consumption, early menopause, eating disorders, low body weight, physical inactivity, taking medications known to cause bone loss (x. prednisone or Dilantin), hyperthyroidism, low estrogen. 4) Lipid profile – including cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides 5) Blood glucose (fasting plasma and glucose tolerance test) 6) HbA1C (glycosylated hemoglobin – average blood sugar control for the past two to three months) – for individuals at risk for diabetes 7) C-reactive protein – to screen for heart disease risk if your lifestyle choices place you at risk for a heart attack or stroke. 8) Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and estradiol test 9) Mammogram, breast exam, pap test, colonscopy and pelvic exam – discuss with your primary physician or OBGYN on how often you should be tested/screened and at what age in order to reduce your risk for cancer. 10) Dental exam and cleaning (don’t forget to floss and brush your teeth daily) 11) Eye exam by physician or optometrist 12) Skin exam by physician – if at risk for skin cancer, consult with your dermatologist. 13) Complete metabolic panel and complete blood count (CBC) 14) Food allergy or intolerance– there are many ways to identify food related allergies or intolerances, often without the need for a “test”. It’s recommended to meet with a Registered Dietitian who can evaluate, assess, diagnose and treat your symptoms and to help you create a balanced diet to fuel your active lifestyle. 15) Vitamin D
Marni Sumbal, MS, RD, LD/N Marni works as a Clinical Dietitian at Baptist Medical Center Beaches, is the owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition, LLC and provides one-on-one consulting in the Jacksonville, FL area. Marni is a Registered Dietitian, holding a Master of Science in Exercise Physiology and is a Certified Sports Nutritionist (CISSN). As an elite endurance athlete, she is also a Level-1 USAT Coach and a 5x Ironman finisher. Marni is a 110% play harder, Hammer Nutrition and Oakley Women brand ambassador. Marni enjoys public speaking and writing, and she has several published articles in Fitness Magazine, Bicycling Magazine, The Florida Times-Union Shorelines, Lava Magazine, Hammer Endurance News, CosmoGirl magazine and Triathlete Magazine, and contributes to IronGirl.com, USAT multisport zone and Lava online. Email firstname.lastname@example.org Website: trimarnicoach.com