How Important is Weight to Overall Health?

By Sara Hodson

Is weight management really a numbers game? Maintaining a healthy weight is important, but it’s not just about the numbers on the scale. Your diet, physical activity levels, family history, and habits all play a role in your overall health.

The Key Numbers Beyond the Scale

If you are looking at your body as a whole unit, then you can think of four key numbers that are important and more valuable than the scale:

Your Blood Pressure: 

Has your blood pressure recently changed? Do you have high blood pressure? Studies have shown that people 55 years or older have a 90% chance their blood pressure will require monitoring at some point in their life. 

Hours You Slept:  

Sleep is important for multiple reasons. When you are well-rested, you will have more energy to tackle your new workouts. You may rely less on caffeine and snacks if you are catching your zzz’s. Also, exercise can help you feel more energized. 

Your Blood Work:

Have you had a certain lab value change for the better? If so, celebrate this victory and think of this new number as one of your successes! 

Your Heart Rate

Monitoring your heart rate is an important tool for keeping track of your health progress.

When you think of your body weight, there are many factors involved. Don’t just think about the numbers on the scale. When you are on a healthy lifestyle journey, be proud of the small changes that take place in any of the numbers being watched. 

Your body is a complicated network and although your weight is one of the factors, the biggest picture is keeping the 4 key numbers listed above in a healthy range. Small changes in your own personal numbers should be celebrated!

How to Manage Cravings

Food cravings are very common - you are not alone! One simple way to manage those cravings is to ask yourself the following questions. Your answers may help you get to the root cause of your cravings.  

What time of day do you have your cravings? 

 Does that time of day correlate to a mealtime you may have skipped or a mealtime that was unbalanced? Keeping a journal or mental note of when you are getting your cravings compared to what you ate earlier that day can help you manage them. 

What are you consuming?   

Are you eating enough filling foods during your meals? The gut plays a big role in so many aspects of your life and health. A healthy range of microbes in your gut may help prevent certain cravings.  

How do you handle your munchies or cravings?  

If it is late evening, could you drink a hot bedtime tea? Would that settle your craving? If it is mid-morning and you are late to a meeting, could you grab a healthy veggie snack? Would that hold you over until lunch?

Are you drinking enough water throughout the day? 

Sometimes a nervous habit can make you want to eat or drink often. The average American is not drinking enough water. Would drinking a cold glass of water fill you up enough to stave off that craving?

Are you stressed?  

Eating when you are stressed can produce a calming effect, especially when eating carbohydrates. The hormone serotonin can help alleviate stress, and it is secreted while eating carbohydrates. Think of ways to prevent yourself from becoming too anxious. Calming and relaxing techniques can naturally boost your serotonin instead of relying on those carbs to do the same trick. 

Weight Management: Progress not Perfection

What is your overall goal? What chronic health problems or conditions are you managing? Do you have a goal with your medication? 

All of your answers to these questions are involved in maintaining a healthy weight. This is a measurement of progress, not perfection. Stay focused on your weight management with these tips: 

Muscle is Mass:

As you become stronger and gain more muscle mass, you may notice that the scale is not changing. Muscle is denser than fat, which can lead to scale measurement frustrations. Remind yourself of what you are working towards - think of the progress you are making towards those goals. That progress is what you should be looking at more than the numbers on your scale.

Change of Habits: 

Part of weight management is figuring out what aspect of your behavior needs to be reviewed in order to live a healthy lifestyle. Are you too tired at the end of your workday to exercise? Do you rush through meals or cram in quick snacks? A realistic change in your habits is an important measurement of progress.

Positive Thinking:

Remember, the numbers on the scale do not define your health. Focus on leading a healthier lifestyle, and don’t forget to celebrate the small changes!



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