Tracking Body Tape Measurements

Tracking Body Tape Measurements

In addition to the standard body composition metrics such as weight, body fat percentage and BMI, Heads Up Health now has the ability to help you track and trend your body tape measurements.

If you want to skip ahead and start logging your measurements now, feel free to create an account using the button below. Or, read on to learn more about body tape measurements and how Heads Up Health can help you track and compare these measurements with all of your other vital health and fitness data.

START TRACKING!

Why Track Body Tape Measurements?

Scales don’t tell the full story:
In many cases, you may be adhering to a well-designed nutrition and exercise plan but weight on the scale is not coming down the way you would like (it may even be increasing…). However, you notice your clothes are starting to fit better and you are looking and feeling thinner and more energetic.

This is a common scenario. Although the absolute number on the scale isn’t moving the way you’d like, your body composition is indeed improving dramatically as fat is lost and lean muscle is gained. Body tape measurements are an excellent way to understand how your body composition is improving in these scenarios.

Track muscle development:
If strength training is part of your regimen, body tape measurements are a great way to understand which muscle groups are growing and which may need to be attacked differently.

Track your progress over time:
One of the most rewarding parts about making healthy lifestyle changes is having a record of your progress over the course of months or even years so you can see how far you’ve come.

Compare with other metrics:
Body tape measurements are a great way to understand *where* you are gaining, but it is also important to know *what* your are gaining. Thus, we also recommend tracking body fat percentage so you can determine if the gains are from muscle or fat.

Additionally, Heads Up Health can help you compare your body tape measurements with all other health and fitness data (blood sugar, diet, exercise etc.) so you have a complete picture of how your lifestyle choices are affecting body composition.

How to track body tape measurements with Heads Up Health

Step 1. Enter measurements:
To add a new set of body tape measurements, simply enter values for the measurement sites you want to track and save your results (click to enlarge image).

Body tape measurements - enter values into your profile

Figure 1: Body tape measurements – enter values into your profile

Step 2: Track results on the dashboard and compare trends on the Analyzer:

You can track measurements on your Heads Up dashboard alongside other important metrics(click to enlarge image).

Body tape measurements on your Heads Up dashboard

Body tape measurements on your Heads Up dashboard

You can also track measurements over time and compare to other health data. For example, on the screen show below I can compare body tape measurements with other health metrics (click to enlarge image):

Body tape measurements - trend and compare your readings over time

Body tape measurements – trend and compare your measurements with scale weight readings

3. Re-measure every few weeks

Periodically re-measure so you can correlate changes with your diet, exercise and lifestyle.

Best practices for body tape measurements

A few tips to ensure you are getting the most out of the body tape functionality in Heads Up:

  1. Consistency: Your goal with body tape measurements is consistency. The tape should be pulled to where it is lying flat against the skin all the way around. The pressure you put on the tape isn’t that important; it is only important that it is the same every time you do it. Use the same process every time you measure to ensure accurate results.
  2. Dominant side: For measurements such as bicep, forearm, calf and thigh, we recommend using your dominant side to collect measurements.

That’s it! You can create your free Heads Up Health account and start tracking measurements using the button below. If you’ve got comments, questions and/or feedback on how we can improve this feature, please contact us.

START TRACKING!

 

 

Customizing Lab Ranges in Your Heads Up Profile

Customizing Lab Ranges in Your Heads Up Profile

Customizing lab ranges is a unique feature that allows you to tailor your Heads Up profile to meet your specific needs (skip to the end of this post for a link to the video tutorial). If you’ve been tracking lab values in your Heads Up profile, you’ve noticed that we provide standard reference ranges for each lab test. These are the same ranges used by most conventional doctors and labs in the US.

Once you connect a medical facility or manually enter your own test results (see this video for instructions), we will also match your personal results against the standard ranges using a green (low risk), yellow (moderate risk) and red (high risk) color coding system. Here’s an example of what this looks like for a typical cholesterol panel:

Tracking lab values in your Heads Up profile

Tracking lab values in your Heads Up profile

This works fine for most general use cases but there are some good reasons why customizing lab ranges may be necessary.

1. Functional vs. Pathological ranges

Conventional medicine typically relies on what are known as a ‘pathological ranges’ for interpreting lab test results. The pathological range is used to diagnose disease. If your personal results fall outside of the pathological range, it usually indicates the potential for disease is present.

Functional ranges take a slightly different approach. They are designed to catch risk before it progresses into a pathological range. For example, the pathological range for fasting glucose may be 65-110 mg/dL whereas the functional range might be 85-100 mg/dL. If your own personal result came back at 105 mg/dL, you would be considered ‘normal’ according to pathological ranges, but a functional range would flag that result for potential early intervention/treatment.

Many health practitioners prefer to work with functional ranges. Customizing lab ranges gives you the ability to decide which approach (functional or pathological) best matches your health goals and customize your Heads Up profile accordingly.

2. Limitations of the standard bell curve

The pathological lab values provided with typical lab tests are actually based on a “bell curve analysis” of all the people that have been to the lab over “x” amount of time (usually in the past year).

The problem with using a bell curve to set reference ranges is that the sicker the population gets, the wider (and less useful) the lab reference ranges become. It may be necessary to look at functional ranges so you are not considered “normal” or “healthy” simply because your lab tests fall in the same range as the majority of the sick people that have been to that lab.

3. Customizing to your personal needs

You may also need to customize lab ranges based on your own personal needs. Factors such as genetics, ethnicity, medications and diet (paleo, keto, vegan etc.) may dictate that lab ranges need to be tailored to your own body and lifestyle choices.

For example, individuals on low-carb/high-fat diets (paleo, keto etc.) tend to have much higher ‘Total cholesterol’ and ‘LDL cholesterol.’ In many cases, these numbers may fall outside the pathological range and would be flagged as a risk factor. However, these same individuals also tend to have much higher ‘HDL cholesterol’ and much lower ‘triglycerides’ and taken as a whole, their cardiovascular risk is very low. By working with a trained health practitioner, you can define ranges that match your specific circumstances

Customizing lab ranges

You can edit the default values in Heads Up to enter your own custom ranges (see video tutorial below). Once saved, the color coding will automatically update based on your newly defined values. Here are some of the permitted values for custom lab ranges:

  • Ranges: The easiest solution is to just enter ranges (e.g. 0-200).
  • Greater than, less than, equals: You can use the greater than (>) or less than (<) symbols and combine them with ‘equals’ (=) to define your ranges (e.g. >200).
  • Multiple ranges using ‘OR’: You can also list multiple ranges using the ‘OR’ operator (e.g. <100 or >= 200)

The example below shows how you can customize a reference range in your own profile based on the options above.

Customize lab ranges in Heads Up Health

Customize lab ranges in Heads Up Health

Note 1: You can choose to omit a certain risk profile if you choose. For example, many users will choose to omit the ‘moderate’ risk section and only enter values for ‘low risk’ and ‘high risk.’ This is permitted and we will simply omit colors for any values within a range that has not been set.

Note 2: If you make a mistake, you can use the ‘reset’ link to restore the default values.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns on customizing lab ranges, let us know. You can also reference the video below for specific instructions. If you’re ready to create you account and start logging some data, sign-up with the button below.

 

Blood Type – The Basics

Can you name a famous football player?

What about a Real Housewife?

Now, can you name your blood type?

If you answered “no,” you have a problem. Knowing your blood type can come in handy — to say the least — in a variety of situations.

The Benefits of Knowing Your Blood Type

  1. Emergency preparation:

Not all blood types are compatible when donating or receiving blood. And, blood type is inherited, so that’s why it’s important to determine blood types for the entire family. Knowing which family member you can give or receive blood from during an emergency could mean the difference between life and death. If any family members have a rare blood type, you might even consider banking some of your own blood for emergency situations.

Blood Types

Blood Types

  1. Susceptibility to diseases:

Some blood types are at higher risk for certain diseases. For example, people with the AB blood type have a higher risk of heart disease and people with the O blood type are more prone to retain stress hormones in their system. So knowing your blood type can be a valuable piece of data to help you assess your own risk factors.

  1. Helping others

According to the Red Cross, every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood. Two seconds! Donating blood can help save the lives of others. Hospitals are usually low on type O (the most common) as well as O- (the universal donor). If more people knew their blood type in an emergency, hospitals could make better use of their reserves without always having to resort to O- for emergency transfusions.

Compatible Blood Types

Compatible Blood Types

How to determine your blood type:

  1. Ask your doctor during your next visit:

If they don’t have this information on file already, they can order the appropriate test for you.

  1. Do it yourself:

There are numerous options to order your own blood tests online without having to go through a doctor. Here’s one example from Request a Test.

How to update your Heads Up Health profile:

Navigate to the “Profile” section and update your blood type in the top left tile.

Blood type shown in Heads Up Health profile

Blood type shown in Heads Up Health profile

Important: Be sure to also upload a copy of the report from the lab into the “File” section. In many cases, doctors will want to see the actual lab report so they can be certain about your blood type before taking any action.

Add your lab report to your Heads Up Health files

Add your lab report to your Heads Up Health files

 

Here’s a quick video tutorial that summarizes what we’ve covered here.

 

If you’re ready to add your blood type to Heads Up Health, head over to our website and get started. Or if you just want the latest from Heads Up Health, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Questions? Shoot us an email. We’re here to help!

Eye Exam – The Basics

Eyes are the windows to the soul. Pretty important, right?

Then why is it that an estimated 61 million Americans are at risk for vision loss, and yet only half have visited an eye doctor in the last year?

Eye exams can be easy to forget. Unless you have a problem seeing or need your vision prescription for glasses or contacts, years can go by without getting an exam.

Be empowered to prioritize your eye health. You could see some major benefits of getting an eye exam like:

1. Prevent blindness or decreasing  vision

Despite strides in healthcare and technology, the number of Americans with eye diseases is actually increasing. And the vast majority of cases of blindness are caused by diseases like cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. Less than four percent of cases of blindness are due to injuries. Which means you should be less concerned about shooting an eye out and more concerned about getting an eye exam.

2. Check your overall health

Your eye doctor can tell if you’re developing a chronic disease like high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes just from looking at your eyes. By getting an eye exam, you may get the kick in the butt you need to make healthy lifestyle changes or to make an appointment with your Primary Care Physician to discuss your overall health.  

3. Save money

Because an eye doctor could be your first healthcare provider to detect a chronic disease, treatment for the disease can begin earlier, which usually leads to less complications and could slow the progression or even reverse it. And that saves money for you and your health insurance. If everyone received early detection and treatment of chronic diseases, we’re talking a savings in the billions of dollars.

Chart via Allaboutivision.com

Chart via Allaboutivision.com

How Often Should I Get an Eye Exam?

The frequency of eye exams depends on your age, gender and health risks. For the most part, children and people over 40 need to go more frequently. Adults in their 20s and 30s can space exams slightly further, around five to 10 years. Ask your doctor at your next eye exam how frequently you should be seen.

Eye exam frequency by age

Eye exam frequency by age

How to update your Heads Up Health profile:

Navigate to the “Profile” section and scroll to the tile for “Routine Screenings.” Then add the date of your last eye exam.

Add the date of your last eye exam in your Heads Up Health profile.

Add the date of your last eye exam in your Heads Up Health profile.

 

Important: Be sure to also upload a copy of your eye exam into the “File” section. If your doctor detects a chronic condition, you’ll probably need to share that report when you seek treatment. This could also come in handy if your vision prescription is documented and you need to order new glasses or contact lenses.

 

Upload your eye exam report to your Heads Up Health files

Upload your eye exam report to your Heads Up Health files

 

If you’re ready to add your last eye exam date and record to Heads Up Health, head over to our website and get started. Or if you just want the latest from Heads Up Health, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Questions? Shoot us an email. We’re here to help!

 

Dental Exam – The Basics

Dental Exam – The Basics

Dental decay happens to just about everyone eventually. It’s just a part of getting older, with a whopping 91 percent of adults between ages 20 and 64 experiencing some sort of tooth breakdown, from tooth decay to cavities.

The scary part is that studies have shown up to 27 percent of those people could have untreated tooth decay. Not treating tooth decay — and avoiding dental exams — only leads to more pain and discomfort and an even further decline in mouth health.

So, here are some basics for why you should get dental exams:

  • Prevent or detect mouth diseases  

Cavities and gum disease are preventable to a certain extent. Getting dental exams twice per year is one of the best ways to ensure that your daily oral hygiene habits are healthy. If your dentist notices some signs of cavities or gum disease, he/she can give you recommendations for how to change your habits and improve your mouth health.

  • Check your overall health

Research shows that there’s a link between your mouth health and your overall health. For example, gum problems — bleeding, sensitivity — have been found to be linked to heart disease, bacterial pneumonia or stroke.  

  • Clean your teeth really well beyond what a toothbrush and floss can do

When you brush your teeth at home, you’re removing plaque, which is great! When you get your teeth cleaned during a dental exam, however, they’re removing the tartar from just above and below your gum lines and scrubbing away stains.

How Often Should I Get a Dental Exam?

The frequency of dental exams depends on your mouth health. For the most part, twice per year is the golden rule.

If you have a healthy mouth, then once a year is probably fine. If you use tobacco, currently have gum disease or are pregnant, you may need to go more often than twice per year. And hey, your frequency could change depending on the state of  your health. Ask your dentist what he or she recommends.

Here are some signs that you should see a dentist as soon as possible. If one or more of these apply to you, make a dental exam appointment today.

dental_exam_signs

How to update your Heads Up Health profile:

Navigate to the “Profile” section and scroll to the tile for “Routine Screenings.” Then add the date of your last dental exam.

dental2

Important: Be sure to also upload a copy of your dental exam into the “File” section. If you have a disease that could be related to or impact your mouth health, you’ll want to share your dental records with your primary care physician or specialist.

dental3

If you’re ready to add your last dental exam date and record to Heads Up Health, head over to our website and get started. Or if you just want the latest from Heads Up Health, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Questions? Shoot us an email. We’re here to help!

 

Using the Personal Challenge Feature

The personal challenge feature lets you structure a block of time within the Heads Up Health software to track changes in your body over the course of a specific health experiment. Examples of how this feature can be used include:

  • Giving yourself a challenge to quit a certain behavior or habit (e.g. smoking, consuming alcohol, consuming sugar etc.) and observing any changes in your health (improved sleep, lower blood pressure etc.)
  • Tracking changes in your body (e.g. weight, body fat or BMI) while testing a new diet (Paleo, Atkins, Vegan, Ketogenic etc.)
  • Tracking changes over the course of a vacation
  • Tracking the effects of a new medication or supplement
  • Setting up your own custom experiments and using Heads Up Health to track changes

Step 1: Create the challenge

Use the “Add Data” button and select “Personal Challenge.” In the example below, I’ve setup a custom challenge to track changes while I test a ketogenic diet:

Create the challenge

Figure 1: Create the challenge

 

The challenge will show up as a card on the dashboard (figure 2) and will count down the time remaining in the challenge.

Track changes using the Analyzer

Figure 2: Showing the challenge on your dashboard

Step 2: Track changes using the Analyzer

As you enter data over the course of the experiment, you can use the Analyzer to zero in on specific areas of investigation. In figure 3 below, I’ve set the date picker to show the 30 days prior (9/10/2015 – 10/10/2015) to the ketogenic diet experiment and my average fasting blood sugar was 91.5 mg/dL.

Changes in fasting glucose during ketogenic experiment

Figure 3: Changes in fasting glucose during ketogenic experiment

I then set the date picker to show when the ketogenic experiment started (10/10/15) and also show fasting glucose which has now decreased from 91.5 mg/dL to 80.3 mg/dL, just within the first week of the experiment (figure 4). The “Personal Challenge” displays a shaded area on the graph showing the duration of the challenge.

How the ketogenic experiment has impacted other health indicators

Figure 4: How the ketogenic experiment has impacted other health indicators

I can easily look at other health metrics that have changed as well such as weight, body fat, BMI or even blood chemistry (cholesterol levels, glucose, inflammation etc.). Sharing this information with your health care practitioner of choice can be very helpful when working on specific health goals.

The same techniques can be used regardless of the challenge or experiment. It could be as simple as tracking weight gain/loss over the course of a vacation or as advanced as tracking several variables as part of a new lifestyle change.

Currently it requires some manual work, changing date ranges and data sources to extract the information you want out of the Analyzer. However, in the near future we’ll be able to automatically generate a report to tell you exactly what changed over the course of the experiment.

We hope you like this feature. Decide on your own personal challenge and Give it a try. If you have any questions, please e-mail support@headsuphealth.com