Friday, 27 July 2012

Busy week!

Another week in the books, and another 6 days worked out.  From Sunday to Friday morning I spent 30 minutes on the elliptical each day, tracking my heart rate zones with the DigiFit app and pacing my intervals using the Lolo Beatburn app. 

Past three week weight history
The net result is another 1.1 pounds lost, for a total of 39.7 pounds lost overall, along with many inches.  I am feeling generally pretty good (more so when I lose weight, because of the positive reinforcement), and find that I am ever so slowly becoming more active.  For example, I am just as likely to walk to work as I am to take the streetcar, which is a huge step forward from a mere 27 weeks ago when even walking to the corner would have me puffing and clutching my back in agony.  Heck, even walking a block and a half was difficult, and when you are that physically limited, your world gets very small indeed.

I have been very impressed with yet another new app - TactioHealth.Yes, yes, I know I have a lot of fitness apps.  But in my defence, I am constantly whittling down the assortment to a core set of apps I use every day.  TactioHealth is one of them.

In brief, TactioHealth provides you with a snapshot of your general health, using figures you either input manually, or electronically (for example, it talks to my Withings blood pressure monitor, Withings electronic scale, and Fitbit Ultra tracker).  Its main screen is a user-friendly dashboard with a snapshot of where you stand - weight, blood pressure, body mass index, resting pulse, body fat, waist measurement, cholesterol, and fasting glucose.  Based on the numbers, it will give you colour coded warnings - red for high, orange for warning, and green for OK. The image on the left shows a sample dashboard - trust me when I say that it is not mine, because mine has a heck of a lot more red on it. 

This app is full of information in the pull down buttons, and everything can be explored for more detailed views.  I like the big picture that this app provides me, with all my info at a glance. 

On the good side, or bad side, depending on how you look at it, this app has motivated me to test my fasting glucose.  There's a convenient button for tracking it and everything, assuming, of course, that you have a glucose testing kit.  I have a history of diabetes in my family (mother, uncle, aunt), as well as a history of high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.  And cancer.  Let's not forget all the cancer. 

Assuming for the moment that I cannot do anything about cancer that I am not already doing, I can be aware of some of those other red flags.  For example, I am very happy to know that I do not have high blood pressure, unlike many others in my family.  This eliminates one risk factor for heart attack and stroke.  Yes, yes, I am still morbidly obese - - a term that did not get its name because it was good for you - - but I am working on that.  If I keep working out as I am and eating healthy, I will eventually only be "obese", and then the world is my oyster!  A delicious, delicious oyster.

Back on topic, I picked up a blood sugar analyzer last year during a minor health scare.  I never used it at the time, but suddenly I felt motivated to try it this week.  I have to confess that I have always been afraid to test my sugars, because as an overweight woman with my family history, the results were likely to come back terribly high. 

I finally bit the bullet and tested myself this week.  First off, I was incredibly inept at working the testing unit and strips my first time out.  I couldn't even get a damn blood drop the first dozen or so tries.  I know I retain water, but that's a little nuts.  After adjusting the puncture depth and wasting one test strip (a costly mistake, as these things cost about a dollar a pop), I was finally able to get a number:  6.2 mmol/L.  The numbers were not good, but not as bad as they could have been. 

The normal range is 3.89 to 5.55 ish, depending on the scale you use.  A range of 5.55 to 7.0 is "pre-diabetes", which means that I am officially at an elevated risk for diabetes.  Not that I didn't really know that, what with my weight and family history, but it's a little scary seeing it spelled out so clearly.  Anything higher than 7.0 as a fasting glucose level is official, full blown diabetes.  Wilfred Brimley level diabetes.  Paula Deen level diabetes.  Delta Burke level diabetes.  You get the picture. 

The bad news is that I am at an elevated risk of the big D.  The good news is that I am already doing exactly the things I am supposed to do to reduce the risk - exercising 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week, eating healthy, and drinking lots of water.  I have already lost around 11% of my original body weight, which apparently reduces your risk of progressing to full blown diabetes significantly.  Obviously, there's still an awful lot more weight I can lose.

The next step will be to look at some diabetes cookbooks and see what other changes I need to make to my diet to really help reduce the risk of progressing into full blown diabetes. 

I have to admit that it is pretty depressing to have lost the amount of weight I have, and to have made all the positive changes in my lifestyle, to still be pre-diabetic.  Perhaps I am looking at this the wrong way, though - - I am pre-diabetic now - maybe last year my fasting glucose numbers would have qualified me to be a full blown diabetic, and these figures represent a huge improvement. 

Regardless of the view I take (the glass of diabetes is half full, or half empty), I need to be aware of the reality of these numbers and what they mean.  I need to make even more lifestyle changes to ensure that I am doing what I can to control my sugar levels, and to keep from moving into full blown diabetes. 

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