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From the Intrepid Vault: The Data Junkie and Blood Work

By Sean | In Health & Lifestyle | on July 30, 2012

Today’s Post was originally written by Matt W. a.k.a “Date Night” in Feb 2011.  Matt runs a walk-in medical clinic called Accesa Health in Torrance that among many things specializes in blood tests that can help you better evaluate your overall health.  In the year and a half since Date Night’s post have any of you just kept putting off getting your blood work run (like me)?  Think of this as a preventative measure that along with nutrition and exercise can go a long way in enhancing your quality and longevity of your life.  Stop down and see Matt at his Torrance office or at least the next time your blood is drawn ask your doctor to also run some of the tests mentioned below, and see where you stand.

I like data. For instance, in college I kept a very detailed journal of the hundreds of golf rounds I played — tracking everything from the weather to which side of the hole I missed putts.

When I began following the Crossfit main site, I first noticed that some of the WODs had girl names and many were timed with prescribed weights. In my previous exercise pursuits, I had kept basic workout journals (which mostly ended up being mental) of the weights used for bench press and “quarter” squats, but nothing I performed was intense or interesting enough to actually time and name. I found I was never fully invested in tracking progress and results, which runs counter to my data junkie nature. With Crossfit, the names, times, weights, distances, rounds etc. made it interesting to track my results and measure my progress. Over a 12 month period I filled many rows and columns in an excel spreadsheet – the number cruncher was happy!

Next came my wedding, starting a business and the birth of my first child. The only things being filled were my fat stores and the diaper bin. I knew I would find Crossfit again, but I did not know when. As fate would have it, my 16-plus month hiatus from Crossfit ended on the first date night with my wife after she finished her medical residency, which turned out to be a double-date with Cindy at CFI. Not only was my ego bruised because my wife completed more rounds, but my body was blasted. I could not do more than 2 pushups at a time for at least 6 weeks afterwards. This led me to discussions with Sean about recovery (or lack thereof), which revolved around rest, stretching and diet. Diet led to Paleo, which led to discussions with Marcus, who led me to Robb Wolf’s book, “The Paleo Solution”.

In the book, Robb discusses various ways of tracking progress including photos, measuring tape, and blood work. Adding photos and measurements to times and weights is a simple and great way to monitor results. Who hasn’t seen before and after photos? But do you have a set of your own? Blood work, however, is not as easy a proposition for most people and with high deductible or no insurance it could be a very costly one

To make the case for blood work, Robb Wolf suggests how it can be helpful: (i) as a baseline for anyone interested in how the body is “running” (especially those who are geeked-out), (ii) to help bring a skeptical doctor on board to the Paleo way, and (iii) for those who think meat and fat is harmful. Personally, I find my interest revolves around (i) and (iii).

The basic tests suggested by Robb, include Total Cholesterol, HDL, LDL, Triglycerides (Lipid Panel) and Glucose (blood sugar). Suggested add-ons include LDL particle size (VAP-Cholesterol), glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), and C-reactive protein. In his book, Robb Wolf does a good job of explaining all of these tests in laymen terms.

Coincidentally, Accesa Health, the new business that contributed to my Crossfit hiatus, had just started an offering called Accesa Labs. Instead of having to go to a doctor, pay for the visit, convince the doctor which tests you want run and why, and then go through the guessing game of cost and reimbursement with the insurance company, anyone (with or without insurance) can log onto www.accesalabs.com, order the tests they want, pay a flat fee, go to any LabCorp location nationwide to get their blood drawn, and get their results via email generally within 2-3 days (the VAP Cholesterol takes about 5 days).

When I was hemming and hawing about if and when to test my blood, I came across a CF journal article with Coach Glassman that got me thinking, “DO IT NOW” and get the data.

After taking the plunge, I am excited to see how my diet and exercise impact a part of my body that cannot be photographed, timed or measured with the naked eye. I plan on tracking my progress every 3-4 months for the first year and then see where we go from there. At the very least, I have a baseline against which to measure myself going forward. The data junkie is happy again!

WOD 7.30.12

Clean 2-2-2

For Time:
Buy-In with 500m Row,
Then 4 Rounds of
5 Reps of Curtis P. Complex (Power Clean+Lunge Right+Lunge Left+Shoulders to OH)
15 Situps

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