There’s something your waist measurement knows that your scale doesn’t.
Maybe you’d like to completely ditch your scale.
And perhaps you and your “weight” even have a strained relationship.
Because certainly, it doesn’t define you (hopefully you know that).
And what you weigh does matter, but only to a certain extent.
Because what matters is more is central to your waistline’s circumference (pun intended). Let’s take a closer, maybe awkward, but totally relatable look at our bellies.
Remember the body form description named after fruit like apples and pears? The apple is more round right around the middle (do the beer belly appearances ring a bell?) and the pear is more round around the hips and highs.
Well guess which shape is most frequently associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar problems (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart problems (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases)?
Not so much because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may have heard referred to as a “muffin top”. The risk to our health is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering organs like the the liver, intestines and others.
The internal fat is known as “visceral fat” and that’s where a lot of the problem is. In this “un-pinchable” fat that you can’t actually grab.
The reason visceral fat poses a health problem is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that could negatively affect blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.
Those with more of an apple-shape tend to have a lot more hidden visceral fat than those that are pear-shaped.
So of course, while excess fat storage is a key issue, where your excess fat is stored is even more important that your weight.
An apple or a pear – which one am I?
It’s simple to figure out if you fall into the higher risk category or not. The easiest way being to simply measure your waist line with a measuring tape to determine the circumference. Do this right now if you can.
As a marker in general, women, if your waist is 35 inches or more you may be said to have “abdominal obesity” which could place you in the higher risk category. Keep in mind that expecting mothers are exempt, of course.
For men in general that number is 40 inches.
Now this is not by any means a diagnostic tool, as there are a lot of other risk factors for chronic diseases and the waist line is just one.
If you have concerns, please do see your doctor.
Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:
Eat more fiber. Fiber can help reduce belly 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 brussel sprouts, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and blackberries.
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.
Cut out the added sugars. This means I’m encouraging you to ditch the processed sweetened foods especially those sweet drinks (even 100% pure juice).
Get into the joy of movement. Dance, climb, lift some weight (your body weight or other resistance); walk often and take the stairs; get some interval cardio/aerobic exercise. It all adds up.
Now seriously… stress less! Elevated levels in the stress hormone, Cortisol have been shown to increase appetite, cravings, drive abdominal fat up and increase appearance of AGING!
Sleep more. Make this a priority and see how much better you will feel (and look, by the way).
RECIPE (High Fiber Side Dish):
Lemon Garlic Roasted Brussel Sprouts
-1 lb Brussels Sprouts (washed, ends removed, halved)
-2 to 3 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
-2 Tablespoons, Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-2 Teaspoons, Fresh Lemon Juice
-A Dash of Salt and Pepper
-Preheat oven to 400F.
-Toss Brussel Sprouts in a bowl with garlic, oil, and lemon juice. Spread on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.
-Bake for about 15 minutes, then toss.
-Bake for another 10 minutes.
-Serve and Enjoy!
Brussel sprouts contain the fat-soluble bone-loving Vitamin K. Eat them more often 😉
Image by Vegan Feast Catering (Skewered Brussels & Shiitakes) [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons
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