Monday, December 14, 2015

The Tyranny of Numbers 

A couple of weeks ago, I finally joined the gym at work (bravo for going completely not out of your way to exercise). Before you join they do a fairly cursory health assessment. Of course they take your weight with boots off but clothes on, which totally adds 3-4 pounds! I mean, c’mon, I'm fighting every ounce here! They measure your percentage of body fat, walk you through a simple survey about your health history and take your blood pressure. There were no real surprises; 152 lbs, 18% body fat, blood pressure: 138/80. Wait? What? Apparently anything under 139 is within normal ranges but it sounded dangerously high to me. I tried to justify it by thinking I just had a coffee, ran down to the gym and I’m pretty sure my sleeve was all bunched up underneath the bp cuff (I have no idea if that affects the numbers).

Since then I decided to forego any salt or salty treats or deli meats etc and have another go at this because I couldn’t get that number out of my head. Sunday morning I woke up early-ish (for a Sunday), weighed in at 145.5 lbs, 17.1% body fat, and went for a short walk to check out a new coffee shop, then a light swim (and soak in the “therapeutic pool” aka hot tub). Feeling sufficiently relaxed I dropped into a nearby pharmacy to pick up some vitamins. When I saw their customer self monitoring blood pressure machine I knew it was going to happen. I took a seat, put my arm in the cuff and pressed the button. The number came up as 111/80 right there in the “Optimal Zone”. Relief. The tyranny of numbers had ended, for now.

UPDATE: while hanging around the drug store waiting to get a flu shot, I again tested my BP and it came in at 115/77, still in the "optimal" zone, which isn't as cool sounding as the Danger Zone but is much preferred in this instance.

ANOTHER UPDATE: On a recent evening I was picking up some crap from the drug store and yes, I measured my BP again: 139/82 BLERG and cusses! Clearly, my afternoon/evening numbers after a commute suck. Note to self: if I'm going for a physical, book it for the morning and get there so early you're sitting around bored so when the doc slips that cuff on, your numbers end up in the lower part of the fluctuation.



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