Panama (spwebdesign) wrote,

State of the Health

I just got back from a free cardiac screening at work. They measured my blood pressure, total and HDL cholesterol, blood glucose, and weight to determine my risk of having a heart attack in the next ten years. There were some interesting results.

My blood pressure is 110/70, which is normal. (It's been better in the past, but I'll take it.)

I've always had normal cholesterol, but now my total cholesterol is 222 mg/dL, which is borderline. My HDL level is 45 mg/dl, which is considered intermediate risk. That makes my TC/HDL-C risk ratio 4.9, which is considered average risk.

When I measured my blood glucose prior to beginning the Atkins diet, I was considered at high risk of developing a pre-diabetic condition and, eventually, diabetes. The results of the test made it clear that I had to get my weight and blood glucose down. Well, in that respect, Atkins has been very successful. Despite having been off the diet for the better part of the last two weeks, my non-fasting blood glucose level is 95 mg/dL, which is in the bottom half of the normal glucose range. :)

Now, the weight is a different story. According to their scale, I weigh 260 lbs. That would suggest that the entire time I was on Atkins I only lost 10-20 pounds! And that makes me clinically obese, according to the suspect BMI scale. Now, anyone who has seen me recently -- particularly, anyone who, heaven forbid, has seen me naked -- will refute the idea that I am obese. Overweight, yes. I still have a belly (that's the last thing to go, it seems) and (tremendously reduced) love handles. But my face looks trimmer. There is almost no flab on my arms. My legs are trim. Clearly, I still have work to do, but just as clearly the BMI scale doesn't take muscle mass into account. I estimate that my ideal body weight, for my height and skeletal build, is probably around 220. According to BMI, it should be 192. At 192, I would be an emaciated little twig, with skin clinging desperately to my bones!

(As an aside on BMI: My friend Rob is an officer in the Air Force. The Air Force swears by BMI, and so he has to keep to a certain weight. Now, if you look at Rob, you see a strapping young man of about 6 feet in height with a compact muscular build and rock solid abs. Yet, according to BMI, he is very overweight! He has to fast for days and dehydrate himself before a test in order not to receive any demerits on his record which could limit his advancement possibilities. He acknowledges it's extremely unhealthy, but since he is in long-term, for a career in the JAG, he has no choice but to conform. I think it's past time to re-evaluate how this country/society measures weight and body type.)

Totalling up the different test results, I scored a 0. (Low scores are good.) I had a point deducted for being 30 years old and had a point added for my borderline cholesterol. I gained no points for the HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, being diabetic, or being a smoker. By virtue of being male, though, my risk of coronary disease is automatically higher. My Framingham Heart Score (the 10-year estimated risk of having a heart attack) is 3%. (That's considered average, with 2% being considered low, for my age group.)

I had an interesting discussion with the counselor (the last station as part of this screening visit) about my diet. (Exercise isn't an issue, since I clearly get plenty of that, and she could tell without having to ask -- obese my ass!) I told her I've been doing Atkins, off and on, for the better part of the past year. She asked why I didn't try South Beach, since (according to her) it's healthier. Well, I explained that South Beach is pretty indistinguishable from Atkins Phase 2. It's a less fatty diet, she insisted. But it really isn't, I explained. Atkins states in his book that initially you shouldn't worry about fats, because his main concern is reducing blood glucose and insulin production, hence causing the body to start using its glycogen and fat fuel reserves. He never advocates that one should go -- excuse the pun -- hog-wild eating nothing but bacon. In fact, he does caution about overdoing the saturated and trans fats. Of course, so many people who claim to be doing Atkins don't bother to read the literature and really aren't following the proscribed diet.

That said, I think there's room to tinker with my diet a bit. I don't eat that much saturated fat and almost no trans fats, but my sources of protein are almost exclusive animal. I have no intention of ever becoming a vegetarian, but I could improve the ratio of non-animal to animal proteins that I consume. Also, although I eat some fruit and plenty of vegetables, I probably don't get enough fiber. I should probably add a fiber supplement to my diet or eat more high-fiber veggies.

Decreasing the animal proteins and increasing the fiber in my diet, while keeping it generally low-carb, would beneficially impact my cholesterol levels while keeping my blood glucose levels where they belong. And as long as I keep exercising regularly (and maybe moderate my driving habits and stop pissing people off), I should live a long, healthy life.
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