What’s the most important number if you are trying to lose weight?
You probably answered, “My weight in pounds, of course.”
Good answer, that IS an important number.
But your weight in pounds isn’t necessarily THE most important
number. Many people underestimate their healthiest weight.
Plus, the main consideration is how you look after you’ve lost
some fat and put on some muscle. When they go on a weight loss
program, most people think about losing flab in their waist and
hips, because this can have the most dramatic impact on their
They want to lose the beer belly and the love handles. They want
smoother curves. They want a trim waistline and hips.
Some even want to be able to see their abdominal muscles, a la
Brad Pitt, or Janet Jackson (when she’s performing on tour).
For a long time, doctors and other health experts would laugh at
or ridicule this obsession with the midsection. They pushed the
BMI, or body mass index, as the most important number to be
The problem with the BMI is that naturally big people, people
with lots of muscle, can actually have “bad” (too high) BMI’s.
Plus, I’ve known plenty of thin people who have great BMI’s, but
actually have a fairly high bodyfat percentage because they
The other issue with it: it’s so darn difficult to calculate.
So the BMI has fallen out of favor somewhat.
Guess what? Many doctors and health professionals have come around
to our way of thinking. Wanting a trim waist is a worthy goal,
Currently THE most important number is your WHR: your waist-to-hip
It turns out that your gut size, not your weight, appears to be
the best measure of health risk.
It’s been known for some time that extra fat around the midsection
is correlated with increased risk of heart attack. This is thought
to occur primarily because this type of fat is concentrated around
the internal organs.
However, recent studies have implicated a high WHR with increased
risk of diabetes and high blood pressure.
So, if you are planning on losing weight, improving your fitness
levels, and/or getting healthier — be mindful of the fact that
extra fat around the midsection increases your risk for some of the
most serious diseases.
Before I forget, here’s how to calculate your WHR:
Grab a tape measure and measure the circumference at the point where
your waist is the smallest. This usually just above belly button
level. Then measure the circumference around your hips where they
are the widest.
Next, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.
Here’s an example:
Waist measurement is 32″
Hip measurement is 40″
WHR = 32 divided by 40 = .80
So what does this number mean?
Well, the ratios at which increased risk for heart attack,
diabetes and high blood pressure starts is 0.95 for men, and 0.80
For men, a WHR greater than 0.95 indicates increased risk. For
women, a WHR greater than 0.80 indicates greater risk.
Getting back to the vanity thing: some years ago I developed a
program to help me bump up my metabolism in a safe, natural way. I
was trying to improve on the weight loss I had achieved through
more “conventional” means.
This became the heart of the “Fire Up Your Metabolism” Program,
which I recently made available again as an Ebook.
In the program, I emphasize deep breathing and dynamic exercises
that concentrate on the torso muscles, including the abdominal,
back and hip muscles.
Why? Three primary reasons:
(1) the focus of most people trying to lose weight is to get as
lean a waistline as possible, for better appearance;
(2) the muscles of the torso are the largest in the body, so
working these can have the greatest impact on your metabolism;
(3) combining deep breathing with movements that focus on the
core area improves appearance more dramatically through toning and
strengthening these muscles, as well as improving posture and
the health of the internal organs.
Now I can add a fourth very important reason: because improvements
in the waist and hip area can help avoid increased risk for heart
attacks, diabetes and high blood pressure — the three major
scourges of modern living.
So, while your current weight and goal weight are important
numbers, be mindful of your waist-to-hip ratio, your WHR, as you
plan and implement your weight loss program.
And if you’d like to kick start your efforts, get the “Fire Up
Your Metabolism” Program.
You Can Do It!
Karen Van Ness
P.S. Get yourself on the right side of your body’s energy equation.
Instead of starving yourself to try to lose weight, try boosting your
body’s energy requirements with the exercises and strategies in the
“Fire Up Your Metabolism” Program. Get your
Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2011