Did you ever see the movie Signs? I’m not usually into scary movies but this one sucked me in! The writer/director, M. Night Shyamalan was able to weave drama, suspense, science fiction and family tragedy into a faithful message of hope. It all begins with crop circles on a family’s farm and ends with our heros battling for their home and survival from alien invaders. Fortunately, the signs we usually encounter aren’t extra-terrestrial in nature. From flashing road signs to beeping message lights on our smart phones, signs are designed to get our attention. Your body is filled with them — maybe it’s time to pay attention to our internal signs.Vital Signs
My husband, Mark, just had his annual physical. His blood pressure was a whopping 98/60 and his cholesterol is so normal for so long that his doctor didn’t even bother to test for it. In his doctor’s words, he’s just plain “boring.” Several years ago, he had signs that things weren’t okay. His cholesterol had been creeping us steadily since his commission in the USAF. With a family history of heart disease and major heart attacks, he took those signs seriously and reversed the trend. No matter your age, it’s important to know your numbers. Here are the basics:
- Blood Pressure: lower than 120/80
- Cholesterol: Know your LDL (under 100 is best), HDL (above 60) and triglycerides (below 150 is normal). Total blood cholesterol should be below 200
- Resting Heart Rate: 60–100 beats per minute is average
- Respiration: approximately 16 times per minute
- Fasting Blood Glucose (Sugar) Levels: 70–100
- Body Temperature: 98.6 °F
If your numbers don’t match up, it may be a sign that you’re heading for trouble. Knowing where you stand right now will help you make the right decisions and trend your vital stats in the right direction.
Beyond your blood, your body gives you plenty of other signs to let you know that you’re on the right, or wrong, track. The bathroom is your best friend when it comes to your personal…and, occasionally, very personal, health trends. Here are five quick things you can do to measure your health on a daily basis:
- Stick out your tongue — your tongue is a great indicator of your internal digestion and nutrient levels. White or yellow coatings may indicate trouble. A healthy tongue should be smooth, moist and pink.
- Step on the scale — studies have shown that daily monitoring of your weight helps you to maintain your weight. If you can, get a scale that measures body composition as well. Beyond weight, knowing your body fat and muscle mass are also important signs of optimal health. Keep in mind that the scale is just a measuring device, not the enemy. Make friends with it so you can correct negative trends before the pounds add up.
- Survey your skin — skin cancer remains the most common form of cancer in the U.S. Scan your body parts and pay particular attention to any moles or discolorations. Be sure to check under your arms, behind your ears and the backs of your arms and legs in a full length mirror whenever possible.
- Sniff ‘things’ out - the toilet is actually one of your very best friends when it comes to noting the state of your health. A light brown, firm, odorless stool is a good indicator that your digestion and elimination is on track. Your urine should be an odorless pale yellow. I told you we’d be getting a little personal here!
- Soak up the view — Giving yourself the once over in the mirror is less about vanity and more about your wellness. Check your posture, muscle tone, and body fat. If you’re seeing more flab than fab, it’s time to make some positive changes.
Fate or Coincidence
“See, what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you…the kind that sees miracles? Is it possible that there are no coincidences?” (Mel Gibson as Graham Hess in Signs). We are walking, talking miracles of nature with an amazing ability to survive extreme environments, punishing physical challenges, and the wear and tear of everyday stress. It’s up to us to read the signs in our own health and start making better choices today. At least we don’t need crop circles to tell us that!
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“For the life of a creature is in the blood.”
Copyright © 2013 by Christine A.Toriello, all rights reserved.