No one likes to go to the doctor. Going to the doctor means confronting the scale and your weight. Doctors often use your weight and the Body Mass Index scale to determine how healthy you are and if you’re at risk for certain health conditions. Unfortunately, your BMI isn’t always the best indicator of health. Instead of worrying about how much weight you carry, you should be concerned about where you carry your excess body fat. The more fat you carry around your waist could mean more health problems down the road.
Obesity is linked to a variety of health problems. From time to time, most of us accumulate extra body fat. You might carry that extra fat in your thighs, arms, or buttocks. But if that extra fat piles up around your midsection you could be in trouble. Excess fat around your internal organs can impact the way your body functions. Researchers in several recent studies have found if you carry weight around your midsection you’re at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other health conditions than those who carry extra weight in their legs or buttocks.
Your waist measurement is a good indicator of your overall health. Here’s how to measure your waist circumference.
- Locate your hip bone. Wrap the tape measure around your body. It should be level all the way around your waist, using your belly button as a guide.
- Don’t pull the tape measure too tight. Try not to hold your breath or suck in while measuring your waist.
- Read the number on the tape measure and write it down.
You know having a large waist measurement isn’t great for your health. Now that you’ve measured your waist circumference you need to know what it means. To have your best chance at maintaining good health, you should aim for:
- Men should have a waist circumference of 40 inches or less.
- Women should have a waist circumference of 35 inches or less.
Knowing you need to reduce your waist circumference is a lot easier than actually doing it. If your waist circumference is larger than the guidelines above, you should talk to your doctor about how to reduce it. Unfortunately, it’s pretty difficult to reduce only your waist. Specific waist and belly reducing exercises typically do little to shrink your visceral fat. For best results, you’ll need to reduce your overall body fat percentage. Here are some ideas.
- Keep a food journal where you track your calories.
- Drink more water.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes, three times a week. More if possible.
- Eat more protein and fiber.
- Reduce your added sugar intake.
- Get more sleep.
- Reduce your stress.
If you have a long way to go in reducing your waist circumference, it can feel overwhelming or even hopeless. Thankfully, losing just ten percent of your body weight can help to improve your health. And if you’re measuring your progress in terms of inches, you might see results more quickly than you would with the scale. Set daily goals and over time you’ll see results.