Why Your Weight Isn't an Accurate Indication of Health
It's common to assume the number on the scale tells you everything you need to know about your health. The truth is your weight can't accurately indicate how healthy you are because it is only one factor. A holistic view of your health and lifestyle offers truer results.
What is Obesity?
What is Obesity?
Doctors will classify you as obese if your body mass index, also known as BMI, is more than 30. There are different levels of obesity, but you can assume the news that you meet the criteria for obesity is going to be followed by concerns for your health from your doctor.
While BMI has been used for years to determine whether people are overweight or obese, it's not a reliable marker of health. BMI only takes into account your weight and height, not the structure of your body. If your BMI is high because of muscle, that's completely different than it being high because of excess fat. These differences matter when it comes to your health.
Technically, being overweight or obese does not mean you're unhealthy, especially if you don't have other risk factors. Your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and glucose levels help tell a story that BMI alone can't. BMI also doesn't take into account your sex or age, two factors that can majorly impact what your BMI and weight actually mean for your health.
How fat is distributed around your body is also important since excess fat in certain areas makes you more prone to health problems. Visceral fat around the belly is associated with more inflammation in the body. This means an increased risk for diabetes and high blood pressure. However, fat on the thighs or buttocks can actually reduce cardiac risks because it's a different type of fat. The number on the scale can't tell the difference between them.
Thin Doesn't Equal Healthy
Being thin is also not a guarantee of health. Just because you fall into your ideal weight range doesn't mean you aren't at risk for problems. If you stay thin by skimping on foods that could offer you nutrients, you are actually harming your health. Too much calorie restriction can also damage your bones, interfere with fertility, and negatively impact your immune system.
There's also the issue of hidden fat. You can be within your weight range but still, have hidden fat accumulating around your organs. This puts you at risk for a variety of health issues, but if you are only looking at the number on the scale, you won't know this.
What Actually Matters?
If you want to improve your health, don't base your goals around what you weigh. Not only is this a false indicator, but it also causes people to make unsafe choices when it comes to eating and exercising. Instead, focus on what your body can do. Set goals that align with the kind of life you want to live and not what you think you should weigh.
There are simple ways to ways to take care of your health daily. Integrate them into your life and focus less on the scale.
Tips for Truly Better Health
Whether or not the number on your scale decreases, here are a few things you can do to feel confident that you are actually boosting your overall health.
Exercise: Find what you love to do and do it regularly. Whether it's lifting weights, jogging, or swimming, set aside time several times a week to increase your heart rate and sweat. Work out alone or sign up for a class if you need accountability.
Don't forget that exercise doesn't have to be confined to a set time of day when you're in your workout clothes headed to the gym. Look for opportunities to move all day long. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, opt for a standing desk, and use your lunch break to take a brisk walk outside. A sedentary lifestyle threatens your health as much as smoking, so move as much as you can each day.
Sleep: Lack of sleep can majorly impact your mental and physical health. If you aren't getting enough quality sleep, you are at higher risk for heart disease and depression. You are also decreasing your life expectancy.
Create a night routine and prioritize rest.
Stay hydrated: You really do need to carry water with you and sip all day. Staying hydrated will help your cells function optimally and lower your risk of infections. Enough fluids can also increase the quality of your sleep. If you're working out and sweating, it's even more important to replace the liquids you are losing so you don't become dehydrated.
Limit alcohol: Staying hydrated does not mean consuming as many alcoholic beverages as you desire. Too much alcohol can negatively impact your brain function and cause a myriad of health problems. Limit your alcohol intake to stay healthy.
Your weight is not a reflection of who you are or how healthy your body is. It's simply a number. Aim for a holistic approach to your health that will leave you stronger and healthier for years to come!