Each year, for our health insurance through my husband’s job, we complete a health assessment: height, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol. How much you exercise, how much alcohol you drink, what your self-assessed stress levels are, that sort of thing. My scores are generally in the 90s (out of 100).
This year, my score was an 87. 87! I went back and checked all my answers. I’ve had no health concerns come up since the last time I took the assessment; I hardly changed any of my answers except to update my cholesterol, which did go up a tiny bit but is still within the healthy range. My blood pressure was slightly elevated at a January doctor’s appointment, and when I switched that out in the assessment for the blood pressure reading prior to the January visit, my score came up to a 92.
That’s more like it.
I didn’t like getting that B score. I wanted an A. On an assessment for health insurance. It’s bizarre how motivated I am by a 1-100 grading scale.
Once I found the reason for the drop, I wondered, was that elevated blood pressure reading a one-off, or is this something I need to watch? I scrutinized my exercise estimates as well. I had guesstimated on those and put down what I vaguely think I do; I didn’t look at any logs to see what I actually do. Because I don’t have any logs that show what I actually do.
That original B score lit a fire under me. I’ve been pretty loosey goosey about exercise in recent years. I do exercise, but I also don’t; with no goals to measure myself against, I don’t truly know how much I do compared to how much I should be doing. And I don’t meditate even though everything I ever read or hear includes exercise, sleep, and meditation as fundamental to good physical and mental health.
So I started an exercise journal. Of course. I set goals based on my health assessment: 150-300 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (I chose 300) and two strength workouts per week. I also added in three meditation sessions per week. If I’m going to do this thing I’m going all in because I am an overachiever.
I completed my first day yesterday, and I felt supreme satisfaction when I wrote down the cardio, strength, and meditation minutes in my journal. I find this especially fun because I have a new Fitbit courtesy of a wellness perk at Automattic, where I work. The Fitbit tracks my heart rate, so it calculates my cardio minutes, and then I just write them down at the end of the day. For strength and meditation, I hate making decisions about what to do, and I get bored and won’t do them if it’s up to me to make up the workout or sit for meditation, but my Fitbit makes that easy too. The app offers strength and meditation sessions that I can just tap on, run through my TV or my phone, do whatever the instructor tells me to do, and then the Fitbit automatically logs them for me in the app. At the end of the day I can enter everything into my paper journal, where I log one week per page so that I can see the bigger picture rather than just the day.
It’s only been one day, but I’m into this. I did another short strength workout this morning and meditated right after. This afternoon, after work, I’ll go for a run or a walk. And before I go to bed, I’ll get the giddy joy of logging my achievements in a notebook. I feel like an A student again.