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Jim Karas on how you should measure and manage your health

Northwestern Integrative Medicine Staying Young: You Control Your Genes program October 18 2012

Northwestern Integrative Medicine, Staying Young: You Control Your Genes program, October 18, 2012

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Updated: March 27, 2013 5:08PM

I just turned 52 (ugh). I really don’t mind birthdays, as I can still fit into my jeans and have all my hair. And I haven’t lost my mind — yet! But what I do mind is how I seem to stumble upon birthdays faster and faster each year. Why can’t Superman turn back time the way he did for Lois Lane, or at the very least, hit the pause button?

Each year, right around my birthday, I get my yearly physical. You should as well. But this year, I decided to go deeper. Why? As my brilliant friend and president of my training studio, Phil Chung, always says, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” So true.

To “measure,” I found myself sitting across from my good friend and client, Dr. Melinda Ring. She’s the director of Northwestern Integrative Medicine and I’m fortunate enough to sit on her advisory board.

Why Melinda? That’s easy. We’ve sent a boatload of our clients to her, as she masterfully blends Eastern and Western medicine. That’s what integrative medicine is all about. What makes Melinda stand out is that virtually every single client that experiences the “one-two punch” sheds a ton of weight — and more importantly, fat. That “one-two punch” is:

1) Personal Training: We do the training and weight-loss nutritional counseling.

2) Melinda Ring: She does the blood work. Behind her back, I call her “CSI Ring,” as she investigates the ultimate crime scene — your body — and rounds up the suspects.

Allow me to share my personal CSI report:

Total cholesterol: 181. That’s good.

Good HDL: 51, but over 60 is better, as you want more of this.

Bad LDL: 113, but under 100 is better, as you want less of this.

Solution: More fiber, vegetables, protein powder, nuts and soy. I do it already, just have to do more.

Total testosterone: 375. That’s low. (WHAT?) Good levels of total testosterone are 250-950. Come on, I lift weights for three to four hours a week, sleep eight hours a night and eat right. Well, as Melinda delicately told me, after 50, for many men and women, testosterone declines — S***!

Solution: I’m going to supplement.

Inflammation: The precursor to many issues.

Less than 1: Low — good.

1-3: Medium — average.

Above 3: High — make some changes.

Me: 3!

I was shocked. I already take a fish oil supplement, but may need to take one of higher quality or more of them. I drink green tea, pound the fruits and veggies and limit “the white,” as in white bread, pasta, rice and crackers, as they ignite inflammation. Maybe it’s my wine?

I thought — yes, thought — I was uber healthy until I measured.

What you should do:

1) Get your yearly physical.

2) Ask for more in-depth blood work, especially if you’re suffering from fatigue, low energy, weight gain, headaches and the like.

3) Might I suggest: See Dr. Ring. There is a bit of a waiting list, but boy, it’s worth it.

And the next time you see me, my muscles will be bulging from my new BFF, testosterone. You’ll know, as I most likely won’t be wearing a shirt.

Jim Karas donated his fee for writing this column to Northwestern Integrative Medicine.

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