What Shape Are You Really In?
Henry S Lodge, MD posted:
Most people make their New Year's resolutions in January (and break them by February). But I think right now is actually the best time to examine your health and habits. Head into the holiday season focused on your wellbeing. It's a wonderful gift to your family, friends, and to yourself.
Your health assessment should start in your doctor's office. With a few basic tests, she can give you a clear starting point for making improvements. Specific markers that you should look at include:
-- Blood pressure: Ask your doctor if it's ideal, rather than high or normal. About a third of Americans have blood pressure levels above 120/80, which is considered prehypertension (or hypertension if it's over 140/90).
-- Blood sugar: Ask your doctor if your fasting blood sugar is normal or ideal. A fasting blood sugar less than 100 is considered normal. If your blood sugar levels are between 100 and 125, this is considered prediabetes.
-- Body mass index (BMI): Based on your height and weight, the lower limit of normal is about 19. A BMI of 25 and over counts as overweight or obese.
After seeing your doctor, take an honest look at your lifestyle. If, for instance, you're skinny but a total couch potato -- somehow managing to stay thin on French fries and hamburgers -- don't give yourself too much credit for being thin. The problems associated with your unhealthy habits may actually trump the presence of a tiny waist. On the flip side, if you're carrying some extra pounds, but you do a great job of staying active and eating healthy foods, take some comfort knowing that fitness goes a long way toward offsetting the possible penalties of those extra pounds. You could be healthier and feel better if you lost the weight, of course. But never make the mistake of getting discouraged about exercise because you are not seeing the pounds drop off. Don't exercise to be thin, exercise to improve your life!