Wellness Numbers Are Great Motivators: Know Them and Track Them
Today's Will Power Moment - 45
with Dr. James Meschino
From having worked with many patients over the years I can tell you that knowing the details of your blood work, blood pressure, waist circumference and body weight can really light a fire within you to improve adherence to desirable nutrition and lifestyle practices. You know, many people are actually afraid to weight themselves or take a tape measure and measure their waist circumference. Here’s another secret that’s not so secret, many people don’t have annual check ups from their doctor out of fear, or because they would rather bury their head in the sand so they don’t have to confront and deal with high levels of blood glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure etc. But I will tell you that it is very liberating to go through the process of an annual medical exam. The truth is that once you have the tangible numbers in front of you can’t help but want to set some wellness goals based on your results. Once you know your results setting these goals becomes much more meaningful, and your chances of succeeding are greatly enhanced. Because now you have something really tangible to shoot for.
The really good news is that you have the power to reduce excess body fat. You have the power to reduce high cholesterol, high blood sugar, high triglycerides in many cases, as well as high blood pressure. I’ve even helped men lower a rising PSA level, which a key test for prostate health. Better dietary, exercise and lifestyle patterns can absolutely change your blood work, blood pressure and body fat measurements to such an extent that it’s sometimes hard to believe you are looking at the blood results of the same person, from one year to the next. That’s how much of a change is possible. Knowing your blood values of key tests, your blood pressure, your body weight and waist circumference are not something to fear, or feel paralyzed by. Rather, they are incredible tools of motivation. I say that because I’m about to explain what the ideal levels are for each key test.
These are the ideal values for longevity; meaning the absolute most ideal level to shoot for that is linked to you having the longest possible life, the lowest risk of disease development and the greatest chance of maintaining a highly functional body and mind. I have a feeling that this is something you would like to achieve. So, watching your numbers move in the right direction over time is very motivating and gratifying. As you improve your diet and exercise compliance these number also improve in concert with your efforts. It’s very empowering to watch believe me.
So, these are the values to shoot for. The key is to know where you stand right now. If you are not in the ideal range for any of the tests it will motivate you to get more on track with the nutrition and lifestyle strategies that will get you there. In some cases, there are genetic factors that may prevent you from reaching the absolute ideal range. In these cases, you may need some medication to help you get there. But, you will be shocked to see the magnitude of change that you can accomplish on your own through improved nutrition and lifestyle practices. So, don’t rely on medication alone.Okay here is a scaled down version of the key tests I’d like you to track, along with their ideal values:
These blood tests are to be done after a 12-hour fast (usually over night)
- Total Cholesterol – ideal is under 3.9 mmol/L (150 mg/dL)
- LDL-Cholesterol – ideal is under 1.8 mmol/L (72 mg/dL)
- HDL-Cholesterol (the good cholesterol) – Men – above 1.17 mmol/L (45 mg/dL): Women – above 1.42 mmol/L (55 mg/dL)
- Total Cholesterol: HDL-Cholesterol Ratio – 3:1 or lower
- Glucose – Under 4.7 mmol/L (85 mg/dL)
- Hemoglobin A1c – under 4.5%
- Triglycerides – under 1.5 mmol/L (132 mg/dL)
Waist and Blood Pressure
- Waist Circumference: Men – under 36 inches; Women – under 33 inches
- Blood Pressure: – 120/70
Men over 40:
- PSA blood test – under 1 ng/mL
Of course, your doctor will order a more complete set of tests during your appointment, but these are the ones I want you to record and track from one assessment to the next. These ones are very key indicators of your healthy life expectancy, and the impact of your wellness behaviors. These values improve as your nutrition and lifestyle practices improve. Monitoring these values will really help to keep you accountable and making better in-the-moment decisions from day to day. I guarantee it. And if you’re blood sugar (glucose) is high then I recommend you purchase a glucometer and at least once a week take a reading first thing in the morning – and track it in your glucose tracker on the wellness platform. If your blood pressure is high, then get a home blood pressure device and measure and track your blood pressure at least once per week as well. And if you are overweight, then get yourself a reliable scale and stand on it once a week to see how you’re doing. Believe me, this is how it gets done.
Knowing your values is not something that should frighten you. Knowing your values can be life-saving and I will tell you that it can really light a fire under you to get you going or get you to the next wellness plateau of success. If you have a value that is not ideal, then you simply set a goal to work towards achieving an ideal value next time. Having something tangible to shoot for can really light a fire under you and enhance your ability to focus on taking your wellness compliance to a whole new level. So, get your tests done and ask your doctor for a copy of your report. Record your values in Health Risk Assessment and check to see where you are on track or off track. Then get busy working to improve any results that are not in the ideal range.
Nutrition, exercise and lifestyle modifications will very much help you achieve these goals. It’s very empowering to watch it happen. I have included a copy of the tests and ideal ranges in the text below as a quick reference for you. I’ve included both the Canadian and U.S. values for the tests, as in Canada test results are shown in SI units (often mmol/L) and in the U.S. test results are usually shown in mg/dL.
OK, know your numbers. It’s very inspiring and will take your wellness compliance and willpower to whole new level. I guarantee it. So, until we meet again, eat smart, live well, look great and if you haven’t seen your doctor in more than a year, then make an appointment and get your blood work and physical exam completed.
See you next time
Dr. James Meschino
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.