You already know life’s a number’s game when it comes to your financial portfolio. Regarding your health, that statement also holds true.
Your wealth affects your health, and vice versa. To help you get a better understanding of how weight management affects your health, we’ll cover the important numbers of weight management: what they are, what they mean, why they matter, and what you can do to maintain those “good numbers”. Ultimately, it’s about understanding what goes into being healthy and how to get — and stay — there. After all, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
What is weight management?
Weight management is a lifestyle, not a diet. Having a healthy weight is more than just a number on a scale.
According to Web MD, weight management is eating a balanced and healthy diet, combining that with good exercise habits, and maintaining a healthy weight. They say, “Staying at a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your health. It can help prevent serious health problems.”
Why you need to know your numbers
A healthy weight is important for your overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you fall into the overweight or obese categories, you have a greater risk for:
• Heart disease.
• High blood pressure.
• Type 2 diabetes.
• High cholesterol.
• Liver or gallbladder disease.
• Sleep apnea and respiratory problems.
• Gynecological problems.
The important numbers
A healthy weight is about more than simply how much you weigh.
According to WebMD, “a healthy weight is a weight that lowers your risk for health problems. For most people, body mass index (BMI) and waist size are good ways to tell if they are at a healthy weight,” which is why we’re putting the spotlight on these two.
It’s important to note, however, that BMI and waist size are only two measurements of health.
Just because your BMI or waist size isn’t “normal” doesn’t mean you aren’t healthy if you’re eating right and exercising regularly. The same is true for someone who is very thin but not exercising regularly or eating nutritious foods. People may be thin, but that doesn’t mean they are healthy.
Your BMI and waist size are to be used solely as a guide. Revisiting what you know about your BMI and waist size is important to help gauge what healthy means for you and your body.
1. BMI scale
Your height and weight make up your BMI.
Wonder what your BMI is? The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) offers a BMI calculator on their website.
Below are the medically accepted BMI standards in relation to weight:
• Underweight: Less than 18.5.
• Recommended range: 18.5-24.9.
• Overweight: 25-29.9.
• Obese: 30+.
Again, your BMI number doesn’t represent your health as a whole but is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to find out if you are overweight or obese. If your BMI is over 25, let it act as an indication that it might be time to have a conversation with your doctor.
2. Waist size
You can measure your waist size by taking a tape measure at the top of your hipbone (at the level of your bellybutton) and measuring the circumference around your belly. This will help you figure out how much fat you have stored.
A healthy waist size is typically:
• Less than 40 inches for men.
• Less than 35 inches for women.
In Harvard T.H. Chan’s citing of the Nurses’ Health Study on the topic, it was found that, “Women who had reported the highest waist sizes — 35 inches or higher — had nearly double the risk of dying from heart disease.”
Again, every body is unique, but waist size is a good indicator to help measure stored fat levels. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about your waist size.
Know the risk factors of weight gain
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, there are some risk factors for being overweight and obese that are changeable and some that are not. “Healthy lifestyle changes can decrease your risk for developing overweight and obesity.”
Look at the list below, ask yourself what risk factors you’re associated with, and if you’re able to change them.
• Lack of physical activity.
• Unhealthy eating behaviors.
• Not enough sleep.
• High amounts of stress.
• Increase in age.
• Unhealthy environments.
• Family history or DNA elements associated with obesity.
• Ethnicity and/or sex. Rates are highest in African Americans, followed by Hispanics, then people of European descent. Obesity is also more common in African American or Hispanic women than in African American or Hispanic men.
Get informed and manage your weight
Begin by paying attention to the quality and quantity of food that goes into your body. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
1. Maintain a healthy caloric intake.
2. Maintain a healthy diet.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, a healthy eating plan includes:
• Vegetables: Dark green, red and orange, legumes (beans and peas).
• Fruits: Strawberries, orange juice, raisins.
• Grains: Whole grains (whole grain bread) and refined grains.
• Dairy: Fat free yogurt and cheese.
•Protein foods: Seafood, meats, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds, soy products.
Want more specific suggestions for modifying your diet to get in shape? Read our article on 6 Unconventional Tips for Losing Weight and Keeping it Off.
3. Exercise regularly.
The American Heart Association recommends exercising for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, and practicing both aerobic activity and muscle strengthening. You can also divide that up into longer time segments. Here are some options:
• Option 1: Two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (for example, brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week.
• Option 2: One hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (for example, jogging or running) every week and muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week.
• Option 3: An equivalent mix of moderate and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities two or more days a week.
Looking for ways to spice up your workout routine, or have some tried-and-true ideas to offer? Join the conversation on Transamerica’s Health and Wealth Community here.
Exercising, watching your diet, and paying attention to your BMI and waist size are all main pillars when it comes to being healthy and managing your weight.
According to a study executed by the NHLBI, even a small amount of weight loss, around 10% of your body weight, can “decrease the severity of obesity-associated risk factors,” and “is realistic and can be achieved and maintained over time.”
This goes to show, as with all number games, a little can go a long way — especially when it comes to your health.
This is an accumulation of the overall important things you need to know and be aware of. Consult your own doctor for specific advice. Looking for a place to get real-time inspiration? Join the discussion in our Community!
Things to Consider:
• Maintain a healthy caloric intake and diet by favoring unsaturated fats, whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables.
• Exercise regularly, ensuring aerobic and muscle strengthening activity.
• Pay attention to your BMI and waist size, and stay informed of the risk factors associated with weight problems.