Lunch with cicadas
Today's LDL cholesterol-avoidance lunch
Following the sad and untimely death of an employee last year, my employer has recently taken a number of steps to support employees more in terms of lifestyle, health care and insurance provision. The onsite caterers provide a good variety of meal choices (though they still cater for those Kiwis who love their stodge and cakes), the company has introduced death/disablement in service cover and now are providing wellness clinic health checks. At 0800hrs last Monday and having fasted since 0400hrs (not including the obligatory morning cup of tea), I went before the 'company nurse'. After a chat to see if I was telling porkies in my health questionnaire, she measured and tested and prodded and drew blood.
The results are interesting and not unrelated to our emigration, hence baring my soul here. Whilst lugging 22 suitcases half way round the world might have stretched my arms and played havoc with my RSI, it didn't compact my vertebrae because I remain 184cms tall. Sadly, the same cannot be said of my weight which has crept up by 2kgs to 87kgs since we left the UK in September of last year. The lack of routine, the increase in take-away food and the generally unsettled life of living in temporary accomodation and travelling for interviews certainly took it's toll on my diet and the amount of exercise. These two measurements were used to calculate my Body Mass Index (BMI) by squaring my height then dividing my weight by the height squared or, for those that want the lowdown, 87 / 3.38 = 25.73. In general terms and ignoring the all-important family health history and lifestyle considerations that should always be taken into account, most folk's BMI should be between 20-25. By exercising less (laziness through lack of routine) and eating more (easy to do in New Zealand), I have let a two kilogram increase in my weight nudge my BMI from just inside (24.81) to a little too far (25.73) outside the healthy range.
My resting pulse rate, at 64 beats/min, is well within the ideal band for my age and indicates that running at lunchtimes and in the forest at weekends over the last month or so has helped me regain some aerobic fitness. Furthermore, I can use this information to better inform myself as to how hard to push myself when out training by calculating . Using my resting pulse rate, I have calculated my minimum and maximum training heart rates (i.e. 60-90% of my maximum heart rate) as 106 and 142 beats/min respectively, which will help me train more effectively. Likewise, my blood pressure is pretty good at 125/80mmHg against the quoted national ideal of 130/80mmHg though, with 1 in 5 Kiwis suffering some form of hypertension, I'm aiming for an optimal of 120/80mmHg.
With a low 'estimated heart event risk' score (a murmur-inducing phrase if ever there was one), my main target is getting my LDL cholesterol down. Like my Dad, I like a bit of cheese with brown bread and butter most days but I suspect that my main downfall has been a few too many take-aways and lack of portion control with my own home cooking. My alcohol consumption is pretty fair considering our home is amongst vineyards and wineries, not to mention the boutique brewery down the road. I think, all in all, I am very happy with my wellness check. Already being aware that I'm still getting back into my regular routine and that I have some way to go yet, the 'no worries but keep a watching brief' result from the nurse is as good as I could hope for I think. All the above is a very long-winded explanation for the low cholesterol lunch you see above, which I have been munching whilst writing and listening to the sound of the chirruping cicadas in the grass and trees beyond my window. These noisy creatures seem to be celebrating an all too brief gap in the rainclouds now sweeping in from the West after two days of stormy North Easterlies.