I was at the height of frustration. I kept thinking that all the scales were wrong. How could this be my weight when I was working out over an hour a day and watching what I was eating? This shouldn’t be this hard. Calories in-calories out= weight loss. Ok, I know my low thyroid was partly to blame, and probably my hormones. But still, shouldn’t I be able to overcome all of these things with my increase in exercise and dietary changes?
In the midst of this inner turmoil, I learned of a fantastic opportunity to evaluate my physical fitness the way the athletes do. I had my aerobic capacity evaluated with a treadmill stress test, the kind I used to recommend for my patients to evaluate whether they had heart disease. I never realized how useful it was to measure how much oxygen I consume during a work out! I only lasted 9 minutes on the treadmill. Unbelievable. I was able to run 5 miles but could barely make it on an incline of 14% for 2 minutes without my legs being on fire.
Then the dreaded body composition scan. This picture is distorted right? I can’t look like that underneath my skin! Wow, 30% body fat. I knew I was not at my best weight but I was low on muscle.
Two weeks after this depressing evaluation, I was mailed an extensive report with all my risk factors, exercise results, and target heart rate goals spelled out. The report was amazing but I didn’t have any help on what to do next. My PCP was not really going to use this information.
It hit me like a ton of bricks. I was doing it ALL wrong and yet exercising regularly and being extremely sore every day thinking I was doing a good thing for my body when in reality, I was not exercising at my target heart rate long enough to burn the calories I assumed I was burning.
That’s when I decided that I had to offer this stress test and body composition analysis to my patients. Look at all this wonderful information that it generates, telling me exactly what heart rate to target and for how long to burn this many calories every day. Not only that, the EKG portion of the test let me know if I had findings that were concerning and also what my recovery phase looked like. Recovery after exercise, including your heart rate and blood pressure, it as important as what these numbers are during exercise. They can tell us how healthy your heart is. I was trying to understand why everyone isn’t doing this testing. This is the map to success!!
I have figured out why everyone is not doing this. There is very little understanding for what aerobic capacity testing is outside of the athletic world and insurance does not cover this testing. People usually undergo this testing to reach that 15% body fat that they are trying to achieve while training for their marathon. That wasn’t me or others around me.
What was important to me was to learn how to live a long and healthy life and be around longer for my kids. My aerobic capacity is an independent predictor of my mortality. That means all other things being equal, someone who is more aerobically fit than I am, will LIVE LONGER. This is what I am ultimately after. Not just a lower weight.
Why aren’t my doctor friends talking about this testing and why aren’t we offering it to our patients? We are focused on hypertension, obesity, and diabetes but we are missing this other key element to risk assessment. We tell our patients to “work out” but are not able to tell them what exercises to do and how intensely to do them but still be safe. Many patients are not sure what to do when they start an exercise program and many times they injure themselves. This sets them back even more from their weight loss goals.
This was my “Aha” moment. Not only did I understand the value of aerobic capacity testing for myself, but also for my patients. It unlocked my understanding of FITNESS. This is not just a word. There is a standardized way to measure it and it can tell us so much.
I was on a mission to bring this testing to RESTORE. I chose the top of the line stress system (the same one in the Cardiologist office) and gold-standard DEXA bone densitometer to measure body composition (way better than scales or calipers) and stood ready.
Now I bring this testing to you, to give you your “aha” moment where your understanding of your fitness level and cardiovascular risk reaches a whole new level. From there, we develop a customized exercise program based on your aerobic capacity, body fat %, lean muscle %, flexibility, strength, and target heart rate zones. We unlock the key to your body’s exercise potential and it works, trust me.