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Health "Assessment"

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Yesterday, I went in for my "health assessment" at work (so that I can pay $25 less per month for medical insurance). I work at a large university and this assessment is conducted through the School of Pharmacy. We don't have a medical school on campus, so I guess this is as close as it gets.

I get into the little "fake doctor room" and the student-intern does the whole finger prick for blood. He takes a little more than an average finger prick does, some small tube that sucks up the blood until he has the amount needed to run the test. It's not 2-3 vials like at the doctor. My cholesterol and blood glucose were both low to normal. My blood pressure also low end of normal. So then I get on the Tanita body analysis machine. When they first started this "program," you didn't have to do that machine. Apparently now, it's required.

A couple of important things to mention before I talk about the body analysis:

(1) I was fasting for the blood work. The appointment was at 10:40 a.m. I hadn't consumed any liquids or foods, not even water (rough).

(2) I was already tired. The fasting started before my workout the night before. Had to eat at 6 so that I would have enough time to let my stomach settle and then go run the next round in the 5K app. It was a long work day and I literally rushed home to eat and wait until I could go running. The round I ran "significantly" kicked it up a notch (to quote Emeril).

On to the body analysis. The last time I got on this machine was at the gym (they have the same one). My body fat was hovering around 39% -- when I started it was over 50%. Yes, ma'am I've been working hard. I get on the machine and it says 51%. I almost cried right there, but held it together for the intern-student who was just writing down the numbers. And, of course, my BMI is way out of whack (high), as it always has been since the inception of this number. Also important to note was that my body water was low (I was dehydrated). I won't go into the "weight" amount, because well, that's still my info to keep and consider.

Of course, because the BMI is high, I was "referred" to the on-staff specialist. Whoopee. I did cry once I got in there (thankfully it was a woman). I told her that I just didn't think those numbers were right -- the body fat percentage. I told her how hard I've been working on being fit and healthy -- what I've been doing for the past 18 months -- working with the trainer, doing bootcamps (yes plural), doing interval training, doing weight training, and now that I am going to be running a 5K for the first time ever in a little over a month, and that on the days I don't run (I run every other day), I do interval training of some kind of cardio to get my heart rate up and do strength training (lift weights).

She started asking me about what I eat. I told her I don't really track because I've pretty much gotten the cravings for food under control with the exercise. We talked a little longer about that and then she said that I really should track, because she thought that I was perhaps not eating enough to keep my metabolism high(er). I knew the numbers, but what she said was, for my age, height, current weight, etc., I needed to consume a net of 1500 per day. If exercise that day takes out 700 calories, then I need to eat enough to hit 1500. I am pretty dang sure I wasn't doing that.

The reason I mentioned my fasting and tiredness: Upon further "internet research" (have to be careful about what is considered accurate), I discovered that one should use the Tanita machine (or similar machines) once per week at most, but more likely 1-2 times per month (unless you're a body builder or similar), and that you should use it in the evening after your body has had the opportunity to re-hydrate itself from the previous night. I also learned that being dehydrated can cause a wide variance in the results. I'm going to wait until Friday late afternoon, go to the gym, use their machine, and then exercise. Hopefully it will be a better assessment. But... it makes me nervous because, dang, what if it really is 51%? That would be so depressing... and yet maybe even more motivating.

Finally - I am kind of thinking I won't do this next year and just pay the extra money on health insurance. I can see where this may lead. I can see that those of us with higher BMIs might have to pay extra or might get cut off from certain health benefits, etc. Never mind that the BMI, from my humble perspective, is a crap shoot. My body size is significantly less from when I started working on being fit and healthy -- like 4-6 sizes less -- my weight has not dramatically changed. I am close to one size different from my smallest size I've ever worn. My body fat percentage has changed (I don't care what that machine says). I KNOW I've gained muscle because I am physically STRONGER. Yesterday I did the heaviest weight I've ever done in the weight room (a goal I set last week since the weights were getting "lighter feeling"). There's no way, doing the things I'm doing, losing the size that I've lost, and not have a lower body fat percentage. My lowest possible weight, what I weighed when I was a super fit athlete in high school still puts me in the "over weight" BMI range. That is ridiculous. Too much emphasis put on a single number.

Morals of this long diatribe?

(1) Eat enough (what a concept). Track your food/liquids to make sure. Spark people Mobile app.
(2) Be careful of machine assessments.
(3) Maybe I should just pay the $25 extra a month and keep my data to myself!

Well this was a longer-than-normal post. Hope y'all have a nice day!

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BTW, Here's a nice sunset photo from Monday's evening run at my gym:
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    1403 days ago
    Yeah, I fell into the "I'll just wing it instead of tracking cuz I now know what I should eat" hole. It is way more complicated than we think so I'm with the specialist on this one. Do track. It's pretty darn easy on the new Spark page.
    That said, I don't think you should just give up and pay the extra $25. You ARE making progress and you know it so don't give in. The BMI is not as accurate as "they" pretend so don't let that intimidate you.
    And let's keep our eyes focused on what really matters: feeling better, stronger, healthier.
    You're gonna RAWK that 5K!!!
    1403 days ago
  • GRACED777
    I haven't used that machine, but I just go by weight and how strong I am feeling. I'm increasing my weight workout again now as well. I have a medium frame, and the lowest size I can wear is a 12, even at my best weight. To me, if I know I'm doing well, too much information can be discouraging. And it isn't always right. I've heard that people who are building enough muscle can have high BMIs, for example.

    I like your sunset!

    1403 days ago

    Comment edited on: 7/23/2014 11:36:45 AM
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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