The Annual Health Exam

Just like the past two Novembers, I had my insurance health exam just yesterday. I was disappointed with some results and pleased with others, but all in all, there weren’t really any dramatic changes—and that was a bit of a let down.

Perhaps most interesting, my blood pressure ‘worsened.’ See, I have a thing with needles—they freak me out. I can even sit there and let someone put it in, but I get really tense when it happens. I sorta freak out on the inside. Go figure, immediately after being poked with a needle, I was shuffled into the blood pressure line. I asked the nurse to check it twice for my convenience. The first check showed 140/90—right on the line to be considered hypertensive. But the second check (administered immediately after the first check) was already down to 134/84. Usually, in any other doctor’s office, my blood pressure is more like 112/72-ish (even when I got my wisdom teeth removed earlier this year), so I’m going to chalk that one up to test or needle anxiety.

I was a bit weirded out when they decided to do a bodyfat analysis. Just two weeks ago, I checked on the hand-held bodyfat analyzer at the gym, and it gave me about 7 percent. For my insurance exam, I registered 13 percent. Just today, I checked at the gym again and it was more like 10 percent.

The part that really surprised me was my cholesterol. I’d been eating ‘healthy’ for the entire year just hoping to bring this number down from last year. Last November I registered a 126 for LDL, a 49 for HDL, and a 193 for total cholesterol, so I was hoping to beat these numbers. This year, my LDL was 123—pretty much the same—my HDL was an incredible 61 (I have yet to talk to another male whose HDL was higher than 50), but my total cholesterol was 201 (!). My blood sugar, which changes from day to day anyway, was up to 91, while my triglycerides, which weren’t checked last year, were a mere 87.

So when you get done with your tests, they steer you into a room with a consultant to tell you how to ‘improve.’ Our nurse started by asking about the bodyfat numbers, which evidently didn’t get recorded, so I told her about my conundrum with the differences from one week to the next. Her reply, "Oh, well, usually only athletes have bodyfat percentages as low as 7 or 8—marathon runners and that sort of thing." I was pretty disgusted with the system by this point, so I just sort of rolled my eyes while my wife tried to explain to the woman that I work out WAY more than I need to. I suppose I need to run marathons to get my normal bodyfat numbers back.

Next, she tried to instruct me about lowering my total cholesterol. "That’s usually accomplished with dietary changes …" I cut her off to save time, "I’ve already tried that. It doesn’t look like it worked." I suppose I was a bit rude, but I was feeling pretty impatient with it at this point.

Two thoughts:

1. It’s possible that I messed up my bod by eating a bunch of unhealthy foods the night before. We were invited over to a Sunday night pre-Thanksgiving feast with a few other couples, and I had plenty of chicken, potatoes, gravy, pumpkin pie, etc. Still, I would that that would only affect my blood sugar and perhaps my triglycerides (again, my blood sugar was high, but the triglycerides were very very low).

2. I’ve read a few things in recent months suggesting that extremely carb-filled diets (probably including my own) tend to promote internal inflammation while diets higher in veggie content tend to reduce it. I’m not talking about vegetarian diets, by the way—this has nothing to do with meats. But here’s my thought process: cholesterol is basically just your body’s resurfacing agent for your vascular system. It exists to fill in the cracks when your blood vessels are damaged. Damage is probably related to inflammation. Perhaps my LDLs are higher because I’m eating a diet that’s promoting inflammation in my blood vessels. Perhaps if I ate more veggies, I’d fix that problem.

Trouble is, I’ve never really been a huge veggie fan. I suppose I’ll have to think this over and perhaps do some experimenting. Hmmmm.

Anyway, those are my thoughts.

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3 thoughts on “The Annual Health Exam

  1. Uncadan8

    I wouldn\’t sweat the numbers too much, Caloi. I had almost the same experience last year, and I had eaten a similar amount of less than ideal foods the night before also. I think the wacky numbers can be chalked up to the parts of those foods that haven\’t moved out of your system yet. The veggies are a very good thing to increase in the diet, and I am sure you are familiar with the use of fish oil to reduce inflammation. It has worked wonders for me!

  2. Boz

    When I really have to lower my blood sugar and re-energize, I eat alot of green veggies and lean protien. Not to beat a dead horse, but that\’s how a diabetic like me needs to eat all the time. Carbs, especially simple carbs are killers. Joe Friel the tri and bike racing trainer advocates a modified Caveman Diet, which works well for me. These darned holidays are a killer, especially since you can\’t control the food served at parties.

  3. Zed

    Dan— Yeah, I wasn\’t the only one who saw totally different numbers on test day than I had in the months previously. I dunno, maybe I just need to get my cholesterol checked more often. But yeah, I love fish—oil and all.Boz— I just have a hard time talking myself into eating broccoli all day. I think it would take a bit of an attitude adjustment on my part. I guess the number that threw me off the most was the bodyfat. If it hadn\’t been for that news, I might\’ve come out of that room smiling.

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