Food and Fitness

By the Numbers

“Continue doing whatever it is you are doing, because its working”.

Other than my wife saying yes when I asked her to marry me or hearing the doctor tell us the sex of our children when they were born, there have been no better words that I have heard in my lifetime.
Who said this? It was the same guy who was telling me only 12 months earlier that I need to continue taking medications for diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. That person was my doctor and those are the words he said when I went for my first physical after I lost 100 lbs.
He was referring to the results of my blood work and the improvement in my “numbers”. Excuse me for a moment, but I still get goose bumps when I think about it.

Folks there are only two things that don’t lie, and numbers are one of them (hips are the other). I don’t want to sound as if I’m on a soap box here, but its hard not to when you see measurable results.

The numbers are everywhere when you are trying to lose weight. There are the obvious ones like the scale and waste size, but it is the ones you can’t see all the time that can really drive home the positive results of all the hard work that you are going through when trying to lose weight.

The chart that I am featuring are the results of my last four blood work ups from my physical exams with my doctor. It’s pretty hard not to notice the change. To help you understand the information better, here is a brief description of what each marker measures.

Glucose: The amount of glucose in the blood after a prolonged period of fasting (12-14 hours) is used to determine whether a person is in a hypoglycemic (low blood glucose) or hyperglycemic (high blood glucose) state. Both can be indicators of serious conditions. Elevated blood glucose readings (hyperglycemia) can be indicative of diabetes, acute stress, Cushing’s syndrome, chronic renal failure, corticosteroid therapy, acromegaly, and other disease. Decreased levels could be indicative of hypothyroidism, insulinoma (tumor of the beta islet cells of the pancreas), liver disease, insulin overdose, and starvation.

Normal range: 80-120 mg/dL
Low normal: 65-80 mg/dL

HDL/LDL and Total Cholesterol: High density/low density lipoprotein ratio and total circulating concentration of cholesterol. HDL is simply the “good” lipoprotein that acts as a scavenger molecule and prevents a buildup of material. LDL is the “bad” lipoprotein that sticks to arterial walls and causes plaque, eventual blockage or reduction in blood flow. The total cholesterol to HDL ratio is also important. Its an indicator of relative risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). Low cholesterol values are indicative of severe liver disease (bile acid disease).
HDL > 35
LDL < 130
total cholesterol/HDL ratio < 3.5.
VLDL (very low density lipoprotein) < 30 mg/dl (risk indicator for heart disease).

Triglycerides: Triglycerides are simple form of circulating and stored fat, are bound and transported by VLDL and LDL complexes. A high level of triglycerides is also a risk factor for heart disease. Triglycerides levels can be increased if food or alcohol is consumed 12-24 hrs prior to blood testing – why you’re asked to fast for 12-14 hrs from food and avoid alcohol for 24 hours prior to testing.

Normal Range:
16-19 yr-old male 40-163 mg/dl
Adult Male 40-160 mg/dl
16-19 yr-old female 40-128 mg/dl
Adult Female 35-135 mg/dl

A1c test (also known as HbA1c, glycated hemoglobin or glycosylated hemoglobin) is a blood test that correlates with a person’s average blood glucose level over a span of a few months.

The A1c test measures how much glucose is stuck to your hemoglobin, or more specifically, what percent of hemoglobin proteins are attached to glucose. So if you have a 7% A1c, that means that 7% of your hemoglobin proteins are glycated.

Once glucose sticks to a hemoglobin protein, it stays there for the lifespan of the hemoglobin protein, or for about 120 days. That’s why, at any moment, the glucose attached to your hemoglobin A protein reflects the level of your blood sugar over two to three months.

For a person without diabetes, a typical A1c level is about 5%. If you have diabetes, it’s recommended, by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), that a level of 6.5% or below should be your target goal. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggests a goal of 7% or lower.

For more information, you can follow these links:

Blood test definitions  Info about A1c testing

So the bottom line is these changes were made not by medication, but by changing my diet and regular exercise. Like I said at the start, the numbers don’t lie. These are the facts. These are the results you can’t see everyday when you make changes to your diet and increase your activity.

One thing that won’t improve unfortunately is the ability to move your hips and I learned that by taking a few Zumba classes. I’ll tell you about that in my next blog.


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