Stepping on the scale is the usual method most people use to determine the success of their diet. Unfortunately, the number reflected on the scale can be misleading. The scale doesn’t tell you where the body fat lives. Fat that is layered along the hips, thighs and ankles is relatively benign, even if it feels like your biggest body image challenge. Belly fat is actually the number one indicator that you are at risk for a heart attack. To counteract the accumulation of fat around the middle, focus on your waist measurement instead of the numbers on your scale.
A healthy waist measurement is 32 ½ inches for women and 35 inches for men. Even though this seems like a lot of leeway when considering the old-school “perfect” measurement of 36-24-36 for women, the 32 ½ inches is an attainable goal for adults of all ages.
47% of women and 93% of men have an unhealthy excess of belly fat. In addition to the increase in heart attack risks, the fat can also make it difficult to breathe because it leaves less room for lungs to expand.
You can improve your waistline measurement by making some simple changes in lifestyle.
- Try resistance training: resistance training is any workout that makes your muscles press against your own weight. Lifting a dumb bell or a bar bell, using stretchy bands, or gym weight training equipment can help you build muscles that burn more fat, even while you’re sleeping.
- Cut out added simple sugars from your diet. These additives can trigger an energy crash that fuels food cravings.
- Make a commitment to manage your stress. An expanded waistline can indicate that your stress levels are too high. Meditation or cardio training can make a tremendous difference in the way your body copes with stress. Making lists of priorities and deadlines can help weed out the nonessentials from your list of have-to-dos.
- Get more sleep. A sleep-deprived body can cause food craving, making carbohydrate binges much more inviting.
It’s a little daunting to give up the influence of the scale when you’re trying to gauge your diet success. Take a last, longing look at the scale and remember that muscle weighs more than fat. More muscle will mean better health and improved appearance. It’s all in the tape measure!