So why am I hating on my genes? (1) my greatest challenge and foe is a hereditary condition (**shakes angry fist at degenerative disc disease**) (2) No matter how hard I try, there are just some things that I cannot change with good diet and exercise. (And don't worry, there are many parts of my genes that I would never want to change...)
Case-in-point: Last Wednesday, my employer had the annual health care expo and screenings. You can get assessed for stroke (I didn't do that one), osteoporosis (my bones are very strong! I have a T-Score of +2.5!), body fat (that one came along with a sales pitch to a gym that I didn't want to join), blood pressure (it was high before the blood draw and normal after, per my usual re needles), and a fasting or non-fasting blood test for cholesterol and blood glucose. I also shocked and awed the health screener by knowing my BMI on the dot, but then dismissing it as a poor measurement of health.
Here's where things get fun -- I had a case of the blarghs last week. My stomach was off, I wasn't eating much, didn't really go to the gym much at all. Total blarghs. So I wasn't surprised when my non-fasting blood glucose was 93 (this is in the "normal" range for fasting, but way below normal for someone that just ate--I attribute that to the blarghs). What I was surprised by were my cholesterol numbers.
|Lipid Panel||Normal Ranges|
|Triglycerides (want lower)||0-149|
|HDL (want higher)||> 39|
|LDL (want lower)||0-99|
My total cholesterol was 163 (2012 physical was 142), my HDL (good cholesterol) was a 41 (2012 physical was 44), which puts my LDL + triglycerides (bad cholesterol) at 122 (2012 physical was 81). So the total was within "normal" range, but the ratio of HDL to LDL was off. Good news is that I won't die anytime soon (considering my maternal grandpa died from a heart attack this is good to know).
It gets better from there -- a very nice person from the health screening company sat me down with a concerned look on his face: my cholesterol was distressing him. He asked me "So, do you know what kind of foods cause high cholesterol?" Okay, fine, we're going to play the "fat person needs to be educated because they clearly don't know how to operate their body" game **eyeroll** "foods that are high in saturated [animal] and trans [packaged foods] fat....but it is more complex than...." and then he cuts me off to say "Cheetos, Twinkies, and McDonalds."
But since this was at my place of employment, I didn't let my inner snarky person go to town and educate the educator on health care bias OR how feeling sick can skew a test. Granted, I do like some Cheetos once in a blue moon (mmm....blue moon beer), but I never put crap like Twinkies or McDonalds in this high-performance machine. Don't look at me, see someone who is overweight, and assume that I do, okay? Then he threw out the possibility of meat being the issue. I'm not a vegetarian/vegan, but I don't feel the need to eat meat at every turn and in massive quantities. [I will say though, that if you love red meat, think about trying some buffalo/bison. It's much better for you than beef because bison are angry sons of bitches that will tell you where to put it if you take their grass from them.] So I whipped out my phone, went to my Google Drive where I keep all of my health records and showed him the past few blood tests and shut him down. It really was the blargh skewing my numbers.
This is why I got so mad at the "fit mom" story -- you can't rely on one photo, or one blood test to make a definitive determination as to a person's health or fitness. Case in point--a friend of mine at work had a cholesterol reading a bit higher than mine but she's a marathoner with an amazing resting heart rate. On the other side of the spectrum are people with amazing blood test results but who aren't physically active and eat things other than rabbit food. It's about metrics/blood tests, behaviors, and being able to outrun/outfight the zombies.
So much of how our body operates owes to how we are hard coded. We can work within the parameters that our DNA allows, but some things just can't be overcome. If you have a family history of something like high blood pressure, you can exercise all you want and you can decrease your blood pressure, but it will always be an issue and a consideration for you. So, if you can, talk to your family candidly about your shared health risks.
[After the health educator, I got into it with the ergonomics people giving bad advice about how to sit in chairs. One of the people, who was also a physical therapist, also agreed with me that passive vs. active sitting is an issue that their pamphlets don't address and that she was encouraged by my rage.]