A few days ago I wrapped up 2018 with a nice little post about my year. It was a great story… good characters, plot, and a nice amount of reflective detail to carry me into the next chapter of my life. It is not new information that writing is essential in my life. I write to process things I am experiencing. I write when things are rotten and it helps me through. I write to record and analyze my state of being. I write for enjoyment. My life is better on many levels because of it. That, of course, is not going to change. Just because things are good now, doesn’t mean the story is over. Nope.
What it does mean is that I can focus less on deep analysis into issues related to being a broken human being. Instead, I can focus more on living with intent and having a constant goal of maintaining a life that’s enriched by positive experiences. It’s continuing doing all the things I’ve already determined work for me while also exploring new avenues. It’s “Maintenance Mode” with a healthy dose of trying new things.
Like everything, I’m still thinking about exactly what that looks like and what I can do to set some goals and measure my progress along the way. In the last few years, the focus has been on my health and in a way, the “physical” aspects of this are fairly easy to quantify. As I slip into Maintenance Mode, that holds true.
For that reason, I’m going to start with the physical, measurable things. Sleep, BMI, Strength, and Heart Health. Notice I don’t say exercise. Exercise is an activity and though I can measure my steps each day, that’s just one factor of a larger picture. I can easily say my goal for 2019 is to average 12K steps a day, but just doing that doesn’t help define the objective. The objective now is maintaining a healthy BMI and both diet and exercise play into that.
Right now my BMI according to the calculator at livestrong.com is 20.94 which is well within the “normal” range. As long as I’m somewhere in that range (18.5 – 24.99), then things are good. I can set a goal for myself to get closer to 20 because I’d feel better being at the low end of normal and farther away from the cusp of the top of that range, and the main factor that plays into that is diet. I say this mostly because I’m already spending about as much time as I can per day on “exercise” and historically, my eating habits have had a greater impact on weight gain and loss than exercise.
If 20 even is the goal, then getting there means losing about 5 pounds. But in reality, I’m calling Maintenance Mode for a reason. If I lose that weight, then hooray, but if I don’t, that’s OK too. It’s just a measurement and objective to keep an eye on so that things don’t start going in the wrong direction.
Sleep is another easy one, which I have already come to a conclusion on. Though the amount of sleep necessary for body and mind recovery over the course of a day/night for an adult is about 7-9 hours, I always feel better when I am on the upper range of that scale. My average last year was 7 hours even and like BMI, I am OK with that too, but would like to see a slight improvement, say 7 hours and 15 or 30 minutes. The challenge here is time, and balancing sleep against a busy schedule. I have to be up by 7 (soon to be 6:15-6:30) so that means trying to get to be even earlier. I also struggle with being tired during the day and so that’s maybe an indicator that I need to get even more sleep. So while the conclusion and measuring this one is easy, follow through is not.
Of course sleep quality matters too and now that I have a FitBit that records my heart rate, I have statistics for the amount of deep, light, and REM sleep I am getting each night. It might be good to look beyond number of hours and start tracking deep sleep. Perhaps my goal should have more to do with the number of minutes in deep sleep. Actually, the stat in the app for one night is minutes, but the aggregate over time is an average. I’m currently at a 30 day average of 15% which is within the “benchmark” of 12-18%. Perhaps the goal is to get slightly higher than 15%? Worth considering.
Strength and endurance are heart health in general are also sort of all wrapped up together. I’ve done a little research in the last couple of days into what my FitBit records and calculates and they actually have a measurement called “Cardio Fitness” which is supposed to be akin to the VO2max, but not totally legit because to get a true VO2max you have to be on cardio eq with a breathing tube and push yourself to the point of exhaustion. I did that test in the athletic department on the UNO campus about a year and a half ago.
I have that paperwork somewhere, and it would be good to see how the FitBit calculation compares to that. In short though, FitBit is telling me my score is 42-46 which is “Excellent for women my age” (it says so right in the app). I guess since that is the case, I’ll just keep doing what I am doing, but would like to increase my free weights to 8lbs (where I left off last year when I quit Jazzercise). Like the other two categories, as long as I am doing about the same, I am doing pretty great.
I guess that is the point though right. I mean none of this is rocket science and it is exactly what I say it is. As I said in the beginning of this post, I sometimes just need to write it out so that there is more definition to it, so that it is solidified in my brain, and so there is some accountability for whatever it is – because it is written in a public forum which I can go back and reference. So that’s the physical side of the equation and I have started to think about the other factors, mental health and life satisfaction and enrichment but have not nailed down any concrete objectives yet. It’s certainly all connected though and a healthy body is essential for a healthy mind. More to come on that, I am sure.
For now I am out of time and need to get to work.
Ciao for now,