words by nerissa

…observations, thoughts and questions

Why some numbers are important

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARecently I have been thinking about numbers. Unusual for someone like me who is more interested in words.

But just like words, numbers are everywhere. Some are important and some are not.

I’ve been thinking about how some numbers have more importance than others, depending upon the phase of life we are in.

I know that when my kids were babies, I really focused on the number of feeds they had and the number of hours sleep I could get each night!

However, my kids are no longer babies and I am not as young as I used to be. The numbers that are becoming more important as I get older, (and which should be more important to all of us as we age) are those related to my health.

After all, it doesn’t really matter how many pairs of shoes I have, if I’ve had my feet amputated due to diabetes complications.

And if my cholesterol levels are through the roof and my heart is in such poor health I could drop dead any moment, then no amount of money in the bank will make me feel better.

Over the last few years, I have specialised in writing ‘health and well-being’ articles. Over the years I have researched and written plenty of content relating to important issues such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cholesterol. I must admit, that at the time, while I thought they were important topics, they didn’t really apply to me all that much.

I think I just had my head in the sand.

However, now I am in my early 40s, I am suddenly in a ‘higher risk’ category for many of these nasty diseases. I’m also more aware of the importance of screening tests (as uncomfortable, inconvenient and embarrassing as they are), particularly when my family health history is factored into the equation.

Put simply, I’ve pulled my head out of the sand, accepted that I am getting older, and am now doing all I can to prevent poor health in the future.

So when it comes to numbers, these are the kinds that I have been thinking about:

Blood pressure — High blood pressure can lead to serious problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney disease.  Doesn’t sound very pleasant.

Cholesterol levels — While we need cholesterol for our bodies to function, too much of the wrong kind (LDL cholesterol) can lead to heart disease or stroke. Not a nice thing to live with.

Blood glucose levels — Having raised blood glucose levels may be an indication that you are on track to develop diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that affects many parts of the body — many more than most people realise.

Calcium levels — Low calcium levels are a risk factor for osteoporosis. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to have to deal with poor bone health and multiple fractures as I age.

Waist circumference — Probably something most of us don’t pay attention to unless we are trying to zip up our jeans! Men should have a waist measurement of less than 94cm while women should have a waist measurement of less than 80 cm. What’s your waist circumference?

‘What about the scales?’, I hear you ask.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the scales are not the most important number in my life anymore. They were for a long time. However, they really only tell a small part of my story. They don’t tell me how much fat or muscle I have, they don’t congratulate me on cutting out processed foods and increasing my water intake, they don’t indicate how much energy I have.

If you haven’t been on the scales in years, then yes, you need to know what you weigh. However, you shouldn’t obsess over a number and let that number dictate how you feel about yourself. If you are proactive about your health and making a concerted effort to lose fat, gain lean muscle and improve your metabolism in order to beat the ageing process, then the scales are over-rated.

And of course, along with all the ‘numbers’, there are a range of health checks that you really just need to have as you get older — most of them not pleasant, but far more preferable than dealing with conditions such as breast cancer, bowel cancer, blindness and false teeth.

Whatever your age, or phase of life you are in, you cannot escape the ageing process.

So I figure, if I can’t stop the ageing process, then I’m going to make sure I slow it down as much as possible and live a happy, healthy fulfilling life for as long as possible.

Who says that it’s all downhill from 40? After all, age is just a number.

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2 thoughts on “Why some numbers are important

  1. Nerissa I had a giggle at the memory of my endless notepads filled with feeding times of my first born. Scratchy numbers no one else understood and yet were my sanity line at the time. I am in my early 40ies and it scared me and yet I am living now with more purpose then at any other time in my life. Cheers number 40.

  2. Nerissa I had a giggle at the memory of my endless notepads filled with feeding times of my first born. Scratchy numbers no one else understood and yet were my sanity line at the time. I am in my early 40ies and it scared me and yet I am living now with more purpose then at any other time in my life. Cheers number 40.

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