What Is Weight, But A Data Point
By Julia Blanton
Your morning started off fine, but then you stepped on the scale. At that point your day either got much better or much worse. Why does this objective number trigger so much emotion? Weight is a useful number, but it is a data point, not a complete picture of your health. Numerous other data points can be used to assess personal health, including circumference measurements, C-Reactive Protein, and digestion, to name just a few.
If you choose to use the scale, do so in an way that inspires knowledge. When you see that number staring back at you, rather than getting upset or celebrating, get curious. If your numbers are up, ask yourself why this might be. Start noticing how foods effect you and how your body fluctuates with changes in stress, sleep, and hormonal cycles. Likewise, if your numbers are down, ask yourself what you did differently and consider how you can integrate those habits more often. If you detest the scale, either switch it over to kilograms (those numbers may not have the same emotional charge) or ditch it! This is not the only way to track what's going on with your body.
Circumference measurements are one of my favorite simple tracking methods. Take a soft tape measure and hold it level around the largest part of your hips, chest, and your waist at the belly button. If you don't want to see the numbers, use ribbon or twine and compare ribbon length from one week to the next. The most important of the three measurements is the waist because both belly fat and inflammation in the gut are crucial health markers. A gradual reduction in the waist measurement indicates loss of belly fat, one of the most dangerous places to store excess fat. A rapid reduction in waist circumference, typically seen after a specific food(s) is eliminated, indicates that whatever you took out was causing inflammation and bloating in the gut. In either case, this is useful feedback and can provide direction as you move forward.
On the subject of inflammation, another important measure of health is C-Reactive Protein (CRP), a blood protein that rises in relation to inflammation in the body. This can be measured with a simple blood draw at your doctor's office. Chronic inflammation is linked to a host of age-related degenerative diseases, including arthritis, cancer, coronary artery disease, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and increased risk for heart attack. To help reduce chronic inflammation in the body, minimize your consumption of sugar, trans-fats, dairy, fried foods, artificial sweeteners, processed meats, refined flour, and food allergens. At the same time, increase antioxidant-rich foods (vegetables), stress reduction, and exercise.
If you are struggling with digestive issues, create a rating system and begin tracking your symptoms. Pay special attention to how you feel within 30-120 minutes after eating. Tracking what you eat along with digestive symptoms will help you learn how your body reacts to certain foods. This works especially well in combination with food elimination and challenges. Once you determine which foods are causing digestive upset, you will have the information you need to fine tune your diet and begin feeling better.
Of course, there are many other data points you can use to track health and wellness such as energy, quality of sleep, physical fitness, your general outlook, resting heart rate, and more. As you make lifestyle changes toward improving your health, track any number of factors that feel well suited to your specific goals. Use this feedback to inform you about the effects of your efforts and to determine what changes are having the greatest impact.
Contact Julia Blanton, a certified nutritionist, for a complimentary consultation to learn more about sustainable nutrition and lifestyle strategies for long term results and use code TRICOACHMARTIN to get 10% off her 4-week coaching package. TriLog training diary is a great way to track training as well as other health markers such as sleep, resting heart rate or weight.