My brother has a mantra: “Your health is your wealth”. It is probably the most profound thing a human can say, It does not matter how materially wealthy you are, unless you are in good health, it is difficult to enjoy life.
So why do we take it for granted? Why do we strive to get materially rich at the expense of our health? We rush here and there, never any time to reflect, get stressed, eat crap food, are too tired to exercise and then when the apparently incurable illness inevitably comes along, we cry “Why me?”
So today, I am going to tell you why my apparent obsession with my well-being is simply a case of taking responsibility for my life.
Why should I put my health in the hands of others? Because they have a long education? Because they only come into the picture when I am ill, and then only to treat the symptoms of the illness?
No. I am reasonably intelligent and I feel that I am in touch with my body. I am aware. I know what works for me and what does not. I use the Internet to research stuff.
Tools help, though. If only they are adapted away from the shibboleths of modern western health care – or should that be health-don’t-care?
I recently bought a new phone, the Android-based Samsung Galaxy S5. I did not need the S6, and this phone suits my needs. On the phone is an app, S Health, and I have started using it. You have to enter some data, in the absence of having further devices strapped to your chest, It has an in-built pedometer, which counts your steps. The goal is 10,000 steps per day, the recommended target for adults. I have a dog, so it is relatively easy to achieve.
There is an in-built device at the back of the phone to measure one’s pulse.
Mine seems to off the scale to the left, but that is not a bad thing. When you gather data over a number of days, you start to see a trend.
The next panel shows your stress level, which tracks the variation in your pulse rate. Is it accurate? I have no idea. I seem to be on the low end, again. By design, that is!
Weight is an important factor with one’s health, and I was looking for the scales app on the phone, but alas, it does not have one! So you have to weigh yourself manually and add the data. No problem! I have also a BFI (Body Fat Index) calculator app and you can enter this data, too.
I have just broken down through the 80kg barrier – haven’t been there for 25 years! My BFI is about 20%, in the middle of the range. The BMI (Body Mass Index) is calculated for me, based on my height which I entered in the set up.
If you want to track your blood pressure, then you will have to do it manually. Again, you can track the trend. I have a digital medical sphygmomanometer (wow! – that’s a mouthful). I don’t measure it every day – once a week should do.
There is a good food tracking section, which allows one to record the food from a very comprehensive list. If the food that you consume is not on the list, you can add (but not edit) the item. The problem is that here it is only possible to record “portions”, but on the other hand you can have a fraction of a portion. Very importantly, the breakdown of carbohydrates, fat and protein are shown – for each item and each meal and the total for the day.
This is a great feature, but for me personally it does not allow me to use the data in a sensible way. Why is that? Because I favour a low carbohydrate diet, and the raw numbers in weight do not reflect how much energy I am extracting from each group. To find this, multiply the carbs and protein weight by 4 and the fat times 9. I do this in an excel spreadsheet like this:
You can see that the weights have been converted back into kcals per food type and then shown in their respective ratios. Extreme ketogenic diets are almost exclusively fat (for treating cancer), but my aim is around 70%, which is mildly ketogenic. That means that I (my liver, that is) will produce ketones (and glucose) as opposed to exclusively glucose. This seems to hold my carbohydrate intolerance at bay at the same time, I can still swim long distances without “bonking”, or running out of energy.
There are also various measurements of performance based mainly on running and cycling, but also a host of other sports, showing the calorie burn.
I am no expert on these apps, but it seems pretty sensible. To create awareness of your situation so that you can take some action, it is probably worthwhile tracking your performance and diet. Take responsibility, but do not become obsessed with it!