There’s no denying that healthy weight loss is a pretty prevalent topic during the first month of a new year. Unfortunately, something we’ve noticed in our line of work is that many discussions about weight loss focus on hitting a certain number on the scale, and nothing else. Oh, if only it were that simple!
At Genesis Medical, we constantly strive to help our patients live at a healthy weight by addressing not only the number on their scales, but the lifestyle factors behind that number as well. In our offices, healthy weight is represented by more than a weigh-in. Why? Because a number simply cannot tell us your entire story - or even if you’re a healthy weight to begin with.
Defining A Healthy Weight: It’s More Than A Number
A basic definition of a healthy weight is “a weight that lowers your risk for health problems.” But what does that mean, exactly? Does that mean maintaining the lowest weight possible? Does it mean that you fit into a certain jean size? Not necessarily. In fact, these standard, number-based lines of thinking can be pretty unhealthy in and of themselves.
Genesis Medical’s team is made up of strong advocates for looking beyond the numbers that define a patient’s weight. We’d rather address the ways our patients can live healthier lifestyles - and that means focusing what they eat and how much they exercise.
We tend to focus on these areas for a few key reasons. Diet and nutrition are particularly important because what we eat affects our risk of developing various illnesses. Depending on a patient’s metabolism, it’s entirely possible for them to be a healthy weight on a scale; but if that patient’s diet is composed of high-sodium fast food and high fat pizzas, those are major risk factors for an unhealthy future.
Exercise is just as important - not only because it helps control our weight, but because it can help us manage our blood pressure, as well as reduce our risk of developing heart disease and numerous cancers.
Considering these factors is our priority because, as any health expert will tell you, a “good” number on a scale is only one portion of a picture of health. Taking the time to consider what we eat and how much we move ultimately helps doctors address a patient’s lifestyle and overall body fitness - and this is the critical step needed to help patients reach a truly healthy weight.
Your Weight And Your Health: A Complex Relationship
While what we eat and our exercise patterns are important, this isn’t to say that weight can be ignored entirely. Research repeatedly confirms that living at a higher weight contributes to the risk of developing certain health issues. This includes heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
In many cases, though, these conditions ultimately develop due to unhealthy overall lifestyles - where being overweight is a key component. Lowering one’s weight can often control or prevent many of these conditions. At the same time, weight alone is not a guarantee that someone won’t develop a serious illness as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle.
Ultimately, numbers aren’t everything - though it’s still worth taking them into consideration as patients begin to create a healthier body overall. The question, then, is how can we best measure our bodies to begin to determine if our weight is acceptable?
Determining If You’re At A Healthy Weight
Currently, patients and doctors alike can access tools that provide a general picture when determining a weight they may want to strive towards. BMI numbers - or Body Mass Index numbers - as well as the simple measurement of a patient’s waist circumference can help give us a good “ballpark” estimate as to whether or not a patient may be considered overweight. (Men should aim to have a waist circumference of under 40 - and women’s should be under 35.)
Are these tools perfect? Unfortunately, no. For example, the BMI system does not always accurately measure your overall fat or lean tissue (muscle) content. Because of this, while it can give individuals a rough estimate of where their weight stands, it cannot give them insight into how much of that weight is muscle, and how much of it is a much more harmful fat content. So, a person can be quite thin, but actually have a high percentage of body fat; a patient’s muscle and bone size can also skew the scales in the wrong direction.
The flaws in these systems highlights why focusing on numbers alone is not necessarily going to help patients truly evaluate their health. Healthy weights are also determined by our age, sex, body type, bone density, muscle-fat-ratio, overall general health, and height. So, how can we best go about sorting through all of these factors?
Put simply, don’t go it alone. Working with a doctor or dietician is the best way to work this out.
As you can see, maintaining a healthy weight is a complicated matter - but a vital one to living a healthy lifestyle. If you want to check in with a doctor and determine what you can begin to do to hit the healthiest number possible on your scale, please contact a doctor at a location near you, and mention wanting to set an appointment specifically to talk about these goals. We will help you begin to piece together a picture of where you are, and ensure that you can begin working towards where you want to be.