Step 10 of 10 to a healthier you. Know your numbers.
Originally Published: April 1, 2009 3:10 p.m.
Hello everyone and Happy Easter. I hope you have been following my steps to a healthier you. It's ok if you have been less than perfect. Simply trying your best every day is enough to propel you forward. It's when you stop trying that the fight is lost. One bad day does not make you a failure; one bad week does not make you a failure; one bad month does not make you a failure. Giving up completely is the only way to fail. You're a winner in my book just for reading my blog!Step 10 to a healthier you is to know your numbers. When was the last time you had your blood pressure, cholesterol, and Triglycerides checked? Hopefully your answer is within the last year because if you are an adult, and you don't know your numbers, you could be a ticking time bomb and you may not even know it. Ignorance is not bliss, it's an early death! CholesterolCholesterol is produced by your body's liver, about 1000 mg per day in fact. This is enough to supply your body without the added cholesterol that you would get from your diet. Only animal products contain cholesterol. You will not find a single milligram of cholesterol in any plant source. Even though some plant sources may be high in fat such as an avocado, there is no cholesterol in them at all.There are two main types of cholesterol in your body, LDL (Bad), and HDL (Good). LDL is the type of cholesterol that can build up on the walls of arteries that feed the heart and the brain (Atherosclerosis). HDL Cholesterol does the opposite by removing the bad cholesterol from the arteries.High cholesterol has no symptoms. The only way to know that you have it is to have your doctor do blood work, or when your dead and the autopsy will show that you had it (Oops, not much you can do then.)Some people are genetically predisposed to produce more cholesterol than what their body needs. These people usually must go on medication to help control it. For the rest of us, eating a healthy diet that is low in fat, especially saturated and trans-fats, and getting at least 30 minutes or more of exercise a day and not smoking, can help bring down our cholesterol.Here is a guideline so you know where your cholesterol should be according to the American Heart Association:Less than 200 mg/dL: Desirable200-239 mg/dL: Borderline-High Risk 240 mg/dL and over: High Risk Optimal LDL Cholesterol should be around 100. These are based on fasting plasma levels.TriglyceridesTriglycerides are the chemical form of fat in the body and in food. Carbohydrates that you eat (breads, pasta, fruits) can turn into triglycerides in the blood when you eat more than your body needs. Eating more fat than what you need will also increase your triglycerides. So why is having high triglycerides a bad thing? High triglycerides is linked to coronary artery disease (heart attack and stroke) and may also be caused by an underlying condition such as diabetes.I read a recent report that triglyceride levels are a direct reflection on a person's heart health. Take this serious folks. Here is where your levels should be according to the American Heart Association:Less than 150 mg/dl: Normal150 to 199 mg/dl: Borderline-High200 to 499 mg/dl: High500 mg/dl or higher: Very HighThese are based on fasting plasma levels.Blood PressureBlood pressure is another very important number that you should know. 120/80 use to be considered normal but now even that number is considered pre-hypertension. Ideally, you want your blood pressure to be a little lower than 120/80. So what do these numbers mean? The first number, systolic blood pressure, measures the maximum pressure exerted as the heart contracts, while the second number measures diastolic pressure, the measurement taken between beats when the heart is at rest.Having high blood pressure is a major risk factor to having a stroke. Having a stroke is not something that only "old" people suffer. 150,000 people will die this year due to a stroke. Strokes are happening to people of all ages, and what is truly sad is that a lot of them could have been prevented by simple lifestyle changes and knowing the numbers. Waist SizeAnother very important number to know is your waist size. I'm not talking about your pant size, you know, those pants that you wear way to low because you have to pull your big belly over the waist line in order to button them. I'm talking about getting out a measuring tape and measure how many inches around your waist is. You are at an increased risk if you waist is over 35 inches for a woman and 40 inches for a man.There is also a waist to hip ration number that is more accurate in determining your health risk. The link to that is at the bottom of this page. So there you have it readers. My 10 steps to a healthier you. There are obviously more steps that you can take but the 10 that I have laid out for you are what I consider to be the most important. Leave me a note about a health and fitness subject that you would like me to write about next. I have thousands of ideas of my own that I can't wait to share but I'd love to hear from you.You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, post a note on my blog, or find me at facebook.com if you would like more advice or are interested in Personal Training. I'm always happy to hear from readers. Orange Chicken Quinoa(You can omit the chicken and simply have orange Quinoa)1 cup Quinoa, cooked and drained (you can find Quinoa at Bashas in the bulk food section)1 lb. cooked boneless skinless chicken breast3/4 tsp. Sea salt1 cup chopped scallions1 large navel orange1 Tbs. Lemon juice3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil + 1 teaspoon4 cups chopped lettuce (I like to use spinach) 1/4 cup pine nuts, optional (The original recipe called for pistachios)Cut orange in half and squeeze about 2T of juice out of it.Wisk orange juice, with lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper to taste.Chop scallions and sauté with a teaspoon of olive oil until tender. Peel the orange and throw away the peel. Cut up the rest of the orange into very small pieces. Add dressing and scallions to warm quinoa and mix wellOn a plate, add 1 cup lettuce, top with the quinoa mixture, then warm chicken, then garnish with orange and pine nuts. Dig in! This recipe is a variation of a recipe featured in Nutrition Action Health letter, April 2009