You totally want to ditch your scale, don’t you?
Do you have a weird kind of relationship with your “weight”.
I mean, it doesn’t define you (obviously). What you weigh matters but it’s not the end all be all. It doesn’t necessarily reflect health status. For example, you can be thin and unhealthy. I definitely wouldn’t describe myself as healthy when I had an eating disorder.
Let’s look at your waist circumference (well…you look at yours and I’ll look at mine).
Waist Circumference (AKA “Belly Fat”)
Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions of being like an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is round around the middle (which can describe some men and women after menopause) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs (which tends to describe women before menopause).
Do you know which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance/pre-diabetes and diabetes) and heart issues (e.g. high blood pressure and arterial diseases)?
Yup – the apple!
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” (the unpinchable fat) and that’s where a lot of the problem actually is.
The reason 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. Apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do. So, where your fat is stored can be 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 just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape. You can do that right now. To correctly measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones. Measure your waist just after you exhale.
Ladies, if your waist is 35″/88cm or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and can be at an increased risk for developing diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease especially if your BMI is over 25. Pregnant women are exempt, of course. Men, your number is 40″/102 cm or more. Increased waist circumference can be a marker for increased risk, even in persons of normal weight.
Please note: there are many risk factors for chronic diseases. Waist circumference is just one of them. If you have concerns definitely see your doctor.
Tips for helping reduce belly fat:
- Eat more fiber. It helps you feel full while crowding out calories. Some examples of high-fiber foods: Brussels sprouts, flax and chia seeds, beans and lentils, and berries.
- Include a protein sources with your meals and snacks. Protein, along with a source of fiber and heart healthy fat like nuts, seeds and avocado along with unsweetened beverages will keep you fuller longer.
- Nix added sugars. This means ditching the processed, sweetened foods especially those sweet drinks (yes, even the ones labelled 100% pure juice).
- Move more. Get some aerobic exercise. Lift some weights. Walk and take the stairs. It all adds up.
- Stress less. Seriously! Elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive abdominal fat.
- Get more sleep. Try making this a priority and see how much better you feel (and look).