In a society that focuses so much on being thin, and produces extremely high obesity rates, it’s no surprise that the determining factors for a healthy life are often overlooked.
Many misinterpret weight as a primary indicator of health, when it is only one factor and, indeed, one that is often over-emphasized. A healthy weight actually exists in a wider range than what shows up on those old fashioned insurance charts used by your doctor – and certainly the newer BMI is similarly ridiculous with strong people who carry a lot of muscle falling into the “obese” category on them!
Heredity and excess dieting often hinder people from achieving those numbers on the charts but that doesn’t exclude a healthy life.
I’m not talking about throwing all caution to the wind and protecting an excessive overweight stage; I’m talking about finding the best health you can inside the body you have.
Here are eight indicators of health I use to help my clients determine an appropriate weight and get healthy.
Remember, only YOU can determine an appropriate weight for you.
1. Energy – this is the premier indicator of health. Do you have energy to complete all the tasks and endeavors you want to complete? Do you go to bed stress-free, tired but not groggy, and sleep easily? And do you wake up refreshed and eager to get out of bed and greet the day?
2. Blood Pressure – Blood pressure is considered normal if it below 140/90 in most countries. In the United States, many doctors suddenly switched to lower readings of 120/80 recently. Why? The answer may involve pressure from the pharmaceutical industry, who has many new blood pressure drugs available. It is important to measure your blood pressure often and calculate an average since the readings will fluctuate dramatically throughout the day and often rise after exercise, eating certain foods, or in the presence of medical staff (“white coat syndrome”).
3. Pulse – Resting pulse is considered healthy between 50 and 100 beats per minute. This is an important factor for the fitness of your heart. Well conditioned athletes will have a resting heart rate of 40-60 beats per minute.
4. Cholesterol – Cholesterol readings should be 60 and higher for HDL (good) cholesterol and less than 130 for LDL (bad) cholesterol with less than 100 being optimal. In addition, triglycerides are often measured with cholesterol and should be less than 150.
5. Weight – Your weight should be one that you are happy with, one that is easily maintained without strenuous dieting or deprivation and one that is consistent. Most people find it is the weight they were in high school/11th grade. Among the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with, many discover a 30 lb. weight range. They begin to feel uncomfortable in the upper 10 lbs of the range, and feel hungry or find it difficult to maintain the lower 10 lb range. Your perfect range may be very different than medical charts for weight, which were actually drawn up by the insurance companies so they could document reasons to charge more to insure “overweight” people.
6. Responsive Immune System – A healthy person is rarely ill and fights off colds or flu quickly with little interference from drugs. Also, a healthy person uses little or no regular drug therapy and resorts to pain relievers for headaches or bodyaches only rarely. A strong immune system is a sign of health.
7. Blood Sugar Levels – Eight-hour fasting blood sugar levels should be between 70-100. In addition, blood sugar levels (and energy levels) should remain fairly consistent throughout the day, regardless of eating cycles. Prediabetics will experience a “wider swing” of high and low blood sugar – high energy after eating followed by an “energy crash” 2-3 hours later, when they’ll experience hunger and need to eat again.
8. Fitness Level – Can you run, kick and punch? I often ask my seminar audiences if they are in danger, can they run several blocks for help? If threatened, are they comfortable fleeing or fighting? This is a basic need of every human, the ability to defend themselves. I learned from my experience as a police officer that many victims of crime and rape are overweight. They are “easy marks” to criminals who require power over someone in order to carry out a crime.
Health is more important than weight. Quite thin people may fit the advertising industry’s picture of health but they are often very unhealthy since they go to radical extremes to lower their weight, including disordered eating, highly-restrictive dieting, binging, fasting and bizarre fasts, purges and “cleanses.”
Often, someone who appears, again by advertising/media standards, to be overweight will actually be the picture of health – energetic, robust, having a positive attitude, and rarely sick.
Where would you rate yourself on these health factors?
What can you do to improve the levels of your health today?
What will you focus on this year in order to improve your health?
No matter our weight or size, we can all improve health with every choice. Good luck!