Congratulations to the winners of the Sinupret for Kids medication and The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood book:
E-mail me your mailing address at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will ensure that your packages get sent in the mail!
Thanks to everyone for participating in Living Healthy in the Real World’s first ever giveaway- I’m sure that there will be many more in the future.
Traveling to Cambodia
On Sunday I leave at 8am for a 20-hour flight to Phnom Penh! My father dear is living there investigating war crimes with the United Nations, so I will be living with him and traveling around Cambodia for roughly a month. At least, I think it will be a month. It’s a one-way ticket so perhaps I’ll be “stuck there” (hurray!) for months on end
If all goes according to plan I will still be posting about three times weekly. The timing might be a little bit off considering I’ll be 12 hours ahead of my current time zone. However, this is an open call for guest posts. If you’ve got something that’s pertinent to Living Healthy in the Real World, send it in!
Measurements and Numbers
I’ve said it before and I don’t mind being upfront about it: I suck at math. Actually, I really loathe math. I think I’ve mentioned previously that one of my favorite teachers in high school told me at the end of the year that he’d give me a good mark as long as I promised to never take another math class ever again, ha.
Considering that math just isn’t my thing, it’s funny that I adore numbers and statistics and measurements when it comes to anything related to health. I count calories: although I don’t use a database anymore, I’ve got most foods memorized for roughly how many calories they’ve got in them. I’ve recently re-started tracking what and how much I eat every day in a notebook (the main reason for this is to satisfy my curiosity so that I can know if I’m getting a balanced diet from all the food groups and nutrients). I wear a pedometer every day and write down in that same notebook how many steps and miles I log at the end of each day. I have access to a scale at the vet clinic that I work at, so I weigh myself a few times a week. And this past Monday, I went to the Kinesiology department at my university to get a skinfold analysis.
A skinfold analysis is when you get your skin pinched by calipers so that the amount of fat on certain areas of your body (tricep, bicep, subscapular, iliac crest, and the calf) is measured. From these tests you can figure out where you carry most of the fat on your body and if you’re at risk for disease.
The woman who did my measurements is in the process of her examination to be a certified personal trainer. She also weighed me on one of those old-school scales and checked my height. Because I have one leg that is longer than the other by nearly an inch, we decided to measure both of my calves rather than just the right calf, and it turns out there is a considerable difference between them! My right calf (the shorter leg) came up with a measurement of 8.1 on the skinfold analysis; the left calf is 12.
At the end of our little session, she went through the results with me. It turns out that my skinfold analysis is 47 with the right calf and 50.9 with the left calf. I believe that she said that anything under 80 is considered in the “excellent” range, so that was very good.
There was a moment of confusion when she calculated my body mass index and reached a number of 17 (that’s classified as underweight; a healthy BMI is between 18.5 and 25). I was especially confused because the three difference scales that I have used in the last couple months all came up with the same number for my weight, which would give me a BMI of 19.5 or 20, but this particular scale that she weighed me on actually measured me as being 12 pounds heavier than the other three scales! It took us a second to realize that there had been an error in punching the numbers into the calculator (and yes, we made sure to re-check my other measurements, too, which we all correct). So that was rather funny, albeit alarming, at first.
When I left the room it occurred to me how entirely unnecessary the whole process had been. I already knew that I’m at a healthy weight and that my body is comfortable with it. Yet I still wanted to get the analysis done.
When it comes to measuring our weight, it’s best to track it by how we feel and by how our clothes fit to see if there are any changes. I know this, yet I still can’t resist stepping on the scale- just to see what it says. It doesn’t have the power to change my mood, but the act is still unnecessary. With my small frame, I’ll be able to tell pretty quickly if my weight changes even by 5 lbs without the assistance of a scale to tell me.
It’s okay to get caught up in the lure of numbers as long as we don’t become a slave to them. Some days we’re going to eat a lot more than others (for example, my 3,800 calorie splurge not too long ago. That’s two days of food crammed into one day! I’m surprised it even all fit into my body!). But ultimately, what’s it going to do when we diligently track ourselves daily? I know that it isn’t precisely necessary to wear my pedometer every single day; my legs will tell me if I’ve been walking a lot and I’ve figured out roughly how many steps/miles it takes to get to the usual places that I walk to (ie. university and the workplace).
It would be nice to be able to end this post with a triumphant, And I walked away from the numbers and never looked back again because I listen to my body and it tells me what I need to know! But this is about living healthy in the real world, and the real world doesn’t always have those kinds of endings. I like tracking these numbers, and I’ve found that they don’t have a negative impact on me, so unless they start affecting me negatively I will continue to track. There’s a sort of fun to it. And besides, my pedometer is my baby. I love it far too much to ditch it.
I’m taking my pedometer with me to Phnom Penh. I’ll probably try to keep logging my food, although it’ll be tricky to know the exact counts with so much foreign food, so I doubt I’ll try that hard. I won’t have access to a scale, but I don’t mind. I can live without the numbers easily… it’s just that when I have access to these numbers, my curiosity is insatiable.
What do you think? Is a healthy curiosity a good thing? Or should we try to avoid relying on numbers to provide us with answers when we have access to them?