This month we discussed a lot of different ways for you to be healthier. Walking more, eating better, focusing on your sleep patterns, and practicing meditation just to name a few. Combining all of these different strategies can really begin to balance out your mind, body, and spirit.
Today I want to talk about what that actually looks like. How do you know when your body is balanced? In the business world, you can measure how healthy your business is by knowing your KPI’s or key performance indicators. A KPI is defined as a quantifiable measure used to evaluate the success of an organization in meeting objectives for performance. In short, they are numeric grades that reflect your business’s efficiency. In the gym that would be things like average revenue per member, length of time as a member, or how many people you sign up compared to how many people sit down with you to discuss membership options.
These KPI’s can really help you focus on the parts of your business that you need to tune up and improve. Numbers don’t lie and if you think your business is healthy your numbers will reflect that. So what are your KPI’s? Or should we call them KHI’s? Key Health Indicators. Do you know your health numbers? When was the last time you got your blood work done? Do you know your bodyfat? How about your fasting blood glucose? The answers to these questions are key insights into the health of your systems, and one system off leads to others getting out of balance, so it’s pertinent that YOU take responsibility for your own health and understand what these numbers are!
There are literally hundreds of things you can measure within your body, and next week will dive deeper, but today we will only focus on a few that will allow you to get a birds-eye view of where you are and hopefully this will lead you to take stock of your current health and how you can improve it.
Key Health Indicator #1 Resting Heart Rate
One of the easiest, and maybe most effective ways to gauge your health can be done in 30 seconds with two fingers. Measuring your resting heart rate (RHR) — the number of heartbeats per minute while you’re at rest — is a real-time snapshot of how your heart muscle is functioning.
It’s easy to do. Place your index and middle finger on your wrist just below the thumb, or along either side of your neck, so you can feel your pulse. Use a watch to count the number of beats for 30 seconds and double it to get your beats per minute. Repeat a few times to ensure an accurate reading. While a heart rate is considered normal if the rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, most healthy relaxed adults have a resting heart rate below 70 beats per minute.
Your resting heart rate can help identify potential health problems as well as gauge your current heart health. Research has found that a resting heart rate near the top of the 60 to 100 range can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and even early death. A 2013 study in the journal Heart tracked the cardiovascular health of about 3,000 men for 16 years and found that a high resting heart rate was linked with lower physical fitness and higher blood pressure, body weight, and levels of circulating blood fats. The researchers also discovered that the higher a person’s resting heart rate, the greater the risk of premature death. Specifically, an RHR between 81 and 90 doubled the chance of death, while an RHR higher than 90 tripled it.
Keep in mind that the number can be influenced by many factors, including stress and anxiety, circulating hormones, and medications such as antidepressants and blood pressure drugs. A tried and true way to lower your resting heart rate is to (you guessed it) exercise. One study that involved 55-year-old adults found that just one hour per week of moderate-intensity aerobic training (about 66% of maximum effort) lowered RHR more efficiently than a low-intensity effort (33% of max effort). Imagine if you combine both
Check yours today and let me know your results.
Key Health Indicator #2 Fasting Blood Glucose
Fasting blood sugar is a measure of your blood sugar after 8 to 12 hours without food in your system. This measurement can show you how efficient your body is processing carbohydrates or sugar. A normal reading is 100 mg/dL after not eating (fasting) for at least 8 hours, and less than 140 mg/dL 2 hours after eating. During the day, levels tend to be at their lowest just before meals. For most people without diabetes, blood sugar levels before meals hover around 70 to 80 mg/dL.
High sugar levels slowly erode the ability of cells in your pancreas to make insulin. The organ overcompensates and insulin levels stay too high. Over time, the pancreas is permanently damaged. High levels of blood sugar can cause changes that lead to a hardening of the blood vessels, which doctors call atherosclerosis. Damaged blood vessels cause problems such as: Kidney disease or kidney failure, requiring dialysis Strokes Heart attacks Vision loss or blindness Weakened immune system, with a greater risk of infections, Nerve damage, also called neuropathy, that causes tingling, pain, or less sensation in your feet, legs, and hands Poor circulation to the legs and feet Slow wound-healing and the potential for amputation in rare cases.
Knowing your fasting blood glucose can you give you valuable insight into how insulin resistant or sensitive you are. This is something that can take years to manifest and monitoring your numbers is the only way to avoid getting past the point of no return. You should get this tested every 6 months through a blood test by your doctor.
Key Health Indicator #3 Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is known as the fight or flight hormone and is very useful in times of stress or danger. It also regulates blood pressure, controls your sleep-wake cycle, affects how your body processes carbs, protein, and fat. Cortisol receptors which are in most cells in your body receive and use the hormone in different ways. Your needs will differ from day to day and even hour to hour. For instance, when your body is on high alert, cortisol can alter or shut down functions that get in the way. If you are working out this might include your digestive or your immune system. This will allow your body to prioritize survival functions or less urgent processes.
Cortisol is naturally elevated in the morning and then slowly decreases to almost zero at night in direct relation to melatonin rising. This is called your circadian rhythm. The problem arises when your cortisol stays chronically elevated or in the worst case gets flipped to being high at night. Stress from work, training, relationships, pandemics, the news, emails, financial problems, and alcohol all trigger cortisol. This It can also lead to a number of health problems, including:
Anxiety and depression
Memory and concentration problems
Problems with digestion
I have had problems with my cortisol for many years after leaving the fire department. This can be a literal nightmare. That is why you have to keep an eye on your levels. Unfortunately, most western doctors don’t even measure this and if they do it’s through a blood test which only tells you what that level is at the time of the test. This is the wrong way to test cortisol function because it doesn’t show you what your rhythm is throughout the day.
In order to test cortisol correctly, you need to take a saliva test. An adrenal saliva test requires you to give a saliva sample 4 times throughout the day. This will give you a clear picture of your cortisol function and also looks at insulin, DHEA/DHEA-S, secretory IgA, 17-OH progesterone, and wheat gluten sIgA, but for the sake of this article, we are only talking about cortisol. This test is a must for anyone with weight issues, sleep issues, or high-stress levels, basically anyone over 35
Knowing your numbers in business and in health are KEY to long term success and growth. These 3 tests will not cover everything but they will give you tremendous insight into where your health is at this moment in time, giving you quantifiable data that you can use and measure to improve. If you are interested in getting your cortisol tested I can refer you to the doctor ( Her name is Nancy Clark ) I use, and give you one more weapon in your fight against disease.