Wednesday, January 14, 2009

THE MEANING OF NUMBERS

As you know, the Metal Monster is being a total idiot this week. The sooner it learns that eating lean, clean food in moderation + drinking lots of water + training with intensity and consistency = numbers going DOWN, the happier I’ll be and we can continue our almost daily liaison. Its obviously a slow learner and unless it pulls its socks up, it’ll be a neglected slow learner.

Having said that, there was a drop this morning but its still .5kgs from last week’s weigh in on Friday so typically I’m still not happy. Oops sounding all glass-half-empty but that’s where I’m at with the silly bugger.

So on the walk to work this morning I got to thinking about numbers and what they mean. Within each aspect of health and fitness, is there a magical number at which life is just right?

Cholesterol reading: 5.5 seems to be the benchmark. Under and you’re ok but over and you’ll have the doctor threatening drugs. Some doctors are smart and bold enough to recommend lifestyle changes but many still revert to the drug cure all too quickly.

Resting hear rate: the lower the better as this indicates a superior level of cardiac fitness. However, venture too low and you approach the “dead” end of the spectrum so we cant be too literal in our interpretation. Working/training heart rates get more complex with a formula that you just draw upon when you’re about to cough a lung up after an intense cardio session, enabling you to calculate if you’re in your “training zone”. Or you can woos out of this challenging process and resort to the trusty Polar hear rate monitor but that’s like taking the easy way out.

Weight: is a veritable minefield if you consider scales, body fat scales, and consideration of gender, height and body composition. Lets look at scales alone. You hop on first thing in the morning and see what you weigh. Does it put a smile on your face or does it evoke a range of negative feelings? Does that number reflect “who you are” that day? Has it allowed for the salty soy sauce you put on your stir fired veges last night or the killer leg session that has you screaming with DOMS pain today? No! So how relevant is that number then?

What about body fat scales? What’s your percentage doing today? Has it swung up by 3% or has it dropped to an all time low but your weight has stayed the same? Think about it: loss of body fat but no loss in weight would have you thinking that the fat you lost turned into muscle. Hahaha I don’t think so. Once again, numbers all over the place so how accurate can they be.

Or you can get pinched for skinfolds or body fat percentage. That’s fine if you have ready access to an experienced body fat tester AND they test at a consistent time and you’re not holding fluid or …… again variables, variables and more variables.

Lets not even mention BMI where a muscly person who is actually really lean can be rated as overweight or nearing obesity.

So with all these considerations and knowing how different 2 people who weigh the same can look, we should ask ourselves what the numbers mean. Is there a magical number at which life is just right for you or do you see the numbers for what they are? “quotiety or how-many-ness” (Pocket Oxford Dictionary). They have no power, can be taken in many different contexts and are subject to unexplained fluctuations. Best not to get too bogged down in them, I think.

Cheers

Magda

6 comments:

Frankie said...

I agree. After all my blood tests yesterday I am totally OVER numbers. In the end I don't even care the weight I end up at as long as I look hot in my size 12 jeans! ...damn..12...another number!

Magda said...

:-) Yep another number to focus on Frankie. We just cant get away from them LOL

Magda

Skye said...

Oh magda isnt it crazy how us girls can let a stupid number change our head space.....If i see a number i dont like i start feeling so bad about myself and then it could be the very next day and i see a number i do like i feel sooo good about myself again.....

I wish i would stop worrying about numbers also!!!
I guess we are all in the same boat!!!

Spartze said...

numbers totally spin me out because I then double what I think I look like in my head how weird is that x

Frankie said...

he he... ok I just wanna look good NAKED. No numbers involved!

Magda said...

Hey Skye. I agree that there's a lot of us in that boat but some girls happily weigh every day and deal with it ok. I'm just not one of them.

Katie, my thoughts run negative too. Like "whats the point, its not working anyway" or "its not fair, I did everything right, how dare it not go down". Grrrr!! So self-defeating.

Good one Frankie!!