Weight Loss – It’s Not All About the # on the Scale!

By: Dr. Daniel Turo, DC

Check out this PSA (Piece of Salutogenic Advice), where our Salutogenic Specialist Angela discusses why BMI is limited in assessing health; focusing on tracking body fat percentage, waist circumference, and fitness level for a holistic view of well-being.

When it comes to weight loss, we often get hung up on the wrong numbers. Weight alone, and even BMI (which is a ratio of height and weight), do not take into account body composition. While it’s good to have a general idea of a healthy weight range for your body type, it’s important not to get too focused on the number on the scale. Weight is the product of lifestyle. If you follow a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet of anti-inflammatory foods and daily activity, your weight will naturally be within a healthy range. If you’re eating excessively and living a sedentary life, your weight will reflect that.

Anyone can drop a bunch of pounds by using weight loss products or other unhealthy measures, but does this loss of weight truly reflect an increase in health? The number on the scale does not show the whole picture. Strict diets, crazy exercise programs, pills, and surgery may all be effective at getting the weight off, but they are not sustainable and will not allow you to keep the weight off. And the side effects from these extreme weight loss options are often worse than the weight itself! Maintaining a healthy lifestyle should be the goal. A healthy lifestyle is the only thing that will promote long-term weight maintenance. This means a lifestyle that is anti-inflammatory, active, and promotes energy and happiness.

There’s nothing wrong with using weight loss as a motivating factor for making changes. We all want to look and feel better in our clothes and have more energy, and losing weight can certainly help with that. If this is your goal, just make sure you are tracking appropriately. When the goal is weight loss, it’s really fat loss that we want and a positive change in body composition. Weight alone won’t be an accurate representation of this. A body composition analysis would be the best tool, but since reliable technology is not available to most, body measurements can help track progress more completely than weight alone.

At a minimum, you’ll want to do waist and hip measurements. From this, you can calculate your waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) which gives an estimate of your health risk. The idea behind this measurement is the more weight you carry in your mid-section, the higher your risk for health complications.

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Abdominal fat puts a lot of strain on the organs and is extremely mobile, which means excess fat in this area can end up in the bloodstream. Central obesity is much more highly correlated with cardiovascular disease than weight alone. One study found that normal-weight people with a “spare tire” had a higher risk of dying of heart disease or any other cause compared with people without central obesity, regardless of whether they were normal weight, overweight, or obese. This means it m, ay be better to have a higher BMI but not carry the weight in your mid-section rather than be “normal” weight but carry excess weight in your middle. Unhealthy lifestyle factors like the inflammatory SAD (Standard American Diet) and lack of activity increase central obesity and risk for disease, even if your weight is in the “normal” range. Learn to focus on HEALTH, not weight.

By increasing exercise and changing your diet, you may see a noticeable change in body measurements, even if the number on the scale doesn’t change that much. You can also track measurements of your biceps, thighs, calves, and neck for an overall picture of how your body shape changes. Be sure to pay attention to how your clothes are fitting as well. You’ll likely notice things fitting more loosely even before the number on the scale changes drastically.

There’s nothing wrong with tracking weight, especially if it helps keep you in tune with your body and on track with your health goals. Just remember to pay attention to the other measurements that give a more complete picture of your overall body composition and health (fasting glucose, insulin, blood pressure, cortisol, etc.). And don’t let your goal weight bring you down. Often people will lose weight and feel great, and then get upset that they “can’t get that last 5-10 pounds off.” This is where weight-centric goals can be dangerous. We’re often unrealistic in our goal weight and feel like we fail if we don’t hit that arbitrary number. Instead, think about the overall goal, which should be better health! Remember, weight is a product of our lifestyle. If you are living a healthy lifestyle, you are reducing your risk of disease and working towards better health. Live a healthy lifestyle and your weight will naturally fall to a healthy range for YOU. If all your blood work numbers are good and you feel healthy and energized, ask yourself what losing 5 more pounds does for you.

Have you ever heard the term “skinny-fat” people? This refers to people who can eat whatever they want and not exercise and remain thin. We often are jealous of these individuals, but the truth is, they do not represent health, despite their “normal” weight. Think about your life and goals. Would you rather be at a “normal” BMI but feel sick, hungry, irritable, deprived, and miserable? Or maintain a slightly higher than normal BMI but feel strong, fit, energized, and lively? It’s not about obtaining a “normal” weight, it’s about finding the healthy weight for you!

Looking for more information on improving health instead of just losing weight? Is Guidance, Support, and Accountability what’s missing from your wellness journey? It’s time you found out! Schedule your Complimentary Salutogenic Consultation to learn more and discuss how we can help pave your way to optimal health. We are here to help you Get Healthy and Stay Healthy for Life!

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