Hey, it’s almost Halloween – I couldn’t resist the zombie theme.
But before we talk about zombies, I have an important question for you:
What’s the most important number to focus on if you’re trying to lose weight?
You probably answered, “My weight, of course.”
Good answer. That IS an important number.
But your weight 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 embark 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 appearance.
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. (Although we don’t get as good a look at those abs in his latest movie, “World War Z”. I guess the zombies don’t care about what shape you’re in. They’ll eat any human.)
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 concerned with.
The problem with the BMI is that naturally big people, people with lots of muscle, can actually have “bad” (too high) BMI’s. For example, Brad Pitt has a pretty high BMI because he has packed on some muscles over the years. But I think he looks pretty healthy, don’t you? (And the zombies chasing him apparently think so too).
Plus, I’ve known plenty of thin people who have great BMI’s, but actually have a fairly high body fat percentage because they never exercise.
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, after all.
Currently THE most important number is your WHR: your waist-to-hip ratio.
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 is 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 women. Higher ratios are worse. If you aren’t already, you want to get under these ratios.
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. But I didn’t want to go on any of those metabolism boosters, which are basically products with a high dose of caffeine combined with some other stuff that may or may not have any real effect. Mainly they just jack you up so you can’t sleep….and you end up stuffing carbs down your throat in an effort to stave off the inevitable fatigue from not sleeping well…not to mention they also jack up your cortisol levels, which promotes weigh gain in all the wrong places.
Anyways, I wanted safe, natural, and something that wouldn’t involve having to spend hours and hours in the gym.
My refined approach became the heart of the “Fire Up Your Metabolism” Program, which I recently made available again as an Ebook (available at the Best Breathing Exercises website).
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; and
(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.
This last point is really critical.
It’s typically said in sports that, “When the legs go, the fighter / player is finished”. This is largely true.
But when it comes to competing, and winning, in the ultimate competition – your battle for health, energy and freedom from debilitation throughout your life – the most important area is your core. When the core goes, your vitality begins to dissipate.
This is a truth known throughout the ages, in both Western and Eastern health practices.
In ancient Greece, the ideal physique included a tight waist combined with broad shoulders and strong legs. This same ideal reappeared in the late 1800s and early 1900s in physical culture practices throughout the Western world.
In traditional Chinese medicine, prevention is paramount – and a key focus area for preventive medicine is specific exercises for the torso area.
You see, as you age, your stomach muscles and other support structures in your pelvic area can get weak and, basically, lazy. Years of bad posture from hunching over the computer or tablet and sitting or standing incorrectly, plus the tendency of most people to exercise less and less, leads to less support and tension in your core muscles. This in turn can lead to the development of even worse posture, chronic back and neck pain (and even headaches), and loss of continence (ever have to sprint suddenly for the bathroom, ladies?).
Good tone in your core muscles is also important for the health of your internal organs. It aids in digestive health and more efficient elimination. And, as I said above, we now know that 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.
In other words, bending, flexing, stretching, tensing and tightening your core every day should be one of your key focus areas. This is not just a vanity thing (as in, I want a slimmer waist) – it’s truly a centerpiece of vibrant health!
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 or fitness program.
And if you’d like to kick start your efforts, get the “Fire Up Your Metabolism” Program.
You Can Do It!
“Best Breathing Exercises: Transform Body Mind and Spirit with Dynamic Energy Exercise!”
P.S. You control how young you look, feel and do. This is exciting stuff! To help you leverage this power, I’ve put together an excellent exercise and eating plan for you in the “Fire Up Your Metabolism” Program. The specific steps, recommendations and exercises I share with you will put you on the fast track to vibrant energy, fitness and health. And it’s easy to work it into your current schedule. Pick up your copy today at http://www.bestbreathingexercises.com/metabolism.html.
Copyright, Karen Van Ness, 2013