We have all heard the words, “The numbers on the scale don’t define you” or the “Scale is not a measure of your self-worth”, or maybe you have even debated “Why the scale is not a reliable tool”, but at the crux of all those platitudes is the understanding that while “weight” can be one way to determine relative health, it doesn’t really give you the bigger picture.
If you find yourself in an unhealthy relationship with your scale which can be defined by:
- Weighing yourself every day, sometimes TWICE a day.
- Denying yourself food if the needle doesn’t move down.
- Determining if you’re going to have a “good” day before you’ve even left the house because of that damn thing!
- Going on vacation makes you feel anxious because you KNOW you’re going to pay for it when you get home and step on the scale.
- You feel sad/mad/helpless/trapped by that black and white dial…
Then read on about why you should “ditch the scale” and what you should focus on instead!
Have ever thought you might have an “unhealthy relationship” with your “weight”? If so, you’re not alone!
According to a study performed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 70.4% of adults over the age of 20 is classified as being overweight.
While that amount may seem staggering, I believe it only presents a narrow view of overall health and wellness which takes into account other factors such as feelings of wellness and overall well-being, attitudes regarding self-care and emotional/mental health, mobility, strength, and endurance, to name a few.
Looking at weight in this way allows us to look at health in a bigger context. Instead of being the sole predictor of relative health, we can step back and see that it’s only one component.
Weight does not define us—what we are capable of , who we are, whether we are successful or lead fulfilling lives—nor does it accurately account for overall health and wellness.
Instead of focusing on numbers on a scale, ditch the scale and focus instead on waist circumference as a tool or indicator for making improvements in your overall health.
Do you remember when the magazine articles that were popular in the 80’s started focusing on body shape? I was in my 20’s then and it seemed like every other week, someone was publishing an article on body shape. Back then the descriptions were compared to fruits…were you an “apple”, a “pear”, a “banana” or “peanut”-shaped? The goal of the articles was to teach you how to choose clothes based on whichever fruit you most resembled, but honestly, all I could think about was, “So how do you dress a banana?” Hahaha.
Now as a Health Coach, I look at this question much differently. While how you are shaped is partly your genetics, your shape can also be a resource of information.
Yup, that’s right!
Do you know which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases)?
If you guessed the “apple”, you’d be correct.
And it’s not because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top”. The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs.
This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that’s where a lot of the problem actually is. It’s this “un-pinchable” fat that can be problematic for many people. Even people who appear to be “healthy” can have unhealthy amounts of visceral fat.
The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.
Where your fat is stored is more important that how much you weigh.
Am I an apple or a pear?
It’s pretty simple to find out if you’re in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way is to measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape.
Women, if your waist circumference is 35” or more you could be considered to be in the higher risk category. Men, for you, that number is 40”. This is an important “tool” in your arsenal because there are actually steps you can take to help reduce your risk factors. While waist circumference isn’t a “diagnostic tool” (only your doctor can determine your overall health, no matter what shape you are), it’s a simple way to determine what steps you can take to help maximize your health.
There are many risk factors for chronic diseases, so if you have concerns, see your doctor.
Tips for reducing visceral fat and maximizing your health:
- Eat more fiber. Fiber can help reduce visceral fat in a few ways. First of all, it helps you feel full and also helps to reduce the amount of calories you absorb from your food. Some examples of high-fiber foods are cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts or cauliflower, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and berries.
- Add more protein to your day. Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer. It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.
- Ditch processed or sweetened foods–especially artificially sweetened drinks. Whenever possible, EAT your calories instead of drinking them (even 100% pure juice). When you’re thirsty, drink water!
- Move more! Lift weights. Swim. Whatever makes you feel good! It all adds up.
- Stress less. Take time for yourself. Pray. Read. Soak in the tub. Elevated levels in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive the storage of visceral fat.
- Get more sleep. Lack of consistent sleep can actually hinder weight loss and increase cortisol production as well. Try making this a priority and see just how much better you feel!
- Ditch the scale. Listen to your body. Think about how you feel. Focus on how your clothes fit. Make healthier choices. Embrace yourself, love yourself and give yourself the best care you know how.
Want to learn how to transition to a healthier lifestyle, feel great and even lose weight in the process? Check out my flagship program, Six Weeks To A Better You® or take a look at my custom meal plan, Better By Design.