Are you a jock?

If you are, you probably LOVE numbers.

Recently it’s been all about Fitbit. Fitbit this, Fitbit that.

I heard a program lately which pointed out that people who were using Fitbit were actually abusing them.

To wit:

“Wow, I’ve done this much? This means I can eat a Snickers bar!!!”

The program pointed out that these folks were effectively sabotaging themselves. By justifying sweet treats and overeating, they undermined the very progress they were making.

Years ago I did the same thing. Worked out for two hours at Fairchild AFB in Spokane.

On the way home, I’d pop a big fat Snickers bar. Figured I “deserved” it.

No I didn’t.

I just ate 215 calories and 20 grams of useless sugar. Crap food. That 215 calories effectively wiped out my workout. Here are the numbers:

I weigh about 120. My body fat is around 10% which means I’m mostly muscle. AT BEST I burned 180 calories for two hours of lifting, no cardio.

My body deserved better than that.

You see how stupid this logic is? You don’t “reward” yourself with crap food and wipe out all that hard work- and then some- when your Fitbit indicates good numbers.

What kinds of numbers really matter?

Your blood pressure, for example. Your resting heart rate.

Here are two more that really tell you how healthy you are: blood oxygenation and how swiftly your heart recovers after exertion.

I’ve been learning a lot about these two lately. Every time I go in for concussion protocol I get tested on both of these measures. A small device is placed on my index finger. The readout gives us resting heart rate (for me, about 51 beats per minute) and the level of oxygen in my blood (for me here in Denver, usually around (97 or 98%, which is high, but I’m an athlete).

Average around here is closer to around 94-95% because our air is thinner at a mile high.

Here’s how we test: I sit a stationary bike, and put on an oxygen mask. I sprint while the oxygen is reduced another 14k’- in other words the equivalent of when I was standing on top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. I stand, sprinting as hard as I can for fully 85 seconds. My heart rate rises up to 160, which is well above the max indicated for my age, 64. My blood oxygen plummets to around 84%. I slow, rest, and am given rich oxygen again.

Here’s what we measure: how fast does my oxygen return to 100% and how fast does my heart rate recover?

It usually takes about four to five seconds for my heart to drop eighty beats a second to a nearly normal rate of 80. My blood oxygen rises to 100% in approximately 20-30 seconds.

These measurements are indicators of how efficient my heart is to recover from extreme effort. That’s one very healthy heart.

These are real numbers. Not bad for an old biddy of 64.

My technician keeps adding on extra seconds, longer sprints, additional challenges to see how far I can be pushed. What we’re both finding is that my body revels in the challenges. I love being their guinea pig because I want to see what my body can do.

Women’s bodies are like that. We’re built for endurance.

This is why people who have huge muscles and look supremely healthy can die on stage at a bodybuilding show. This is why someone who is lean and mean can die long before a person you consider overweight expires. There’s a lot more going on there.

Health is not just how we LOOK. Healthy is a matter of how the heart and organs and muscles function. Is the heart delivering oxygen and critical nutrients to every cell? Are we firing on all cylinders?

A calorie is not a calorie is not a calorie. Last night I pounded down 215 calories in the form of a massive spinach salad that was so filling and so yummy and full of fruit and nuts and and fats and goodies. Good for that hard-workin’ heart.

No Snickers bar for her. That’d be an insult.

People who look healthy keel over all the time. It’s important to know your numbers, and not use them as an excuse to pound down the pound cake.

Get to know your real numbers. Those are your sure-fire signposts to how you’re really doing, and what to do to absolutely maximize your health far beyond just how you look.