Your “check engine” light in your car is there to alert you to small problems before they become bigger problems or emergencies which cost time, money, and inconvenience. Your body also has “check engine” lights – subtle signs and symptoms that are easily ignored. LIVE YOUNGER by being aware of these clues and addressing them before they grow into chronic problems that rob you of independence and joy. Waist circumference provides health clues to help you ward of chronic lifestyle illnesses and disability.
A simple tape measure is all you need for an essential “check engine” light. If you are male, strive for a waist circumference of 40 inches or less. If you are female, your waist needs to be 35 inches or less. Waist circumference is an excellent predictor of heart disease and is a positive indicator of metabolic syndrome. Think of the dreams you have for your life – places you want to visit, people you want to invest in, and how you want to feel physically and mentally. You likely don’t have the problems and side effects of heart disease and metabolic syndrome woven into those hopes and dreams. They slow down or even halt your aspirations of LIVING YOUNGER.
By knowing that waist circumference matters for your future ability to live your life to the fullest, you can START SOMEWHERE now taking small steps to improve it. Be sure to read my posts on weight management and creating a vision for health. It doesn’t require special meals or fancy workout machines. It does require creating a vision of what you want to feel like in the future and what you want to do. Your vision will drive your actions and you won’t feel like you are giving anything up when you make positive lifestyle changes.
Metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, will seriously slow you down and cost money that you could be spending on something else. All of the factors have lifestyle components, so you have choices. This disorder develops if three or more of the following criteria are present:
- Waist circumference of 40 inches (102 centimeters) or more for men and 35 inches (89 centimeters) or more for women
- Blood pressure over 130/85 mmHg or if you are taking blood pressure medications
- Fasting triglyceride (TG) level over 150 mg/dL or if you are receiving treatment for high TG
- Fasting high-density lipoprotein (HDL – the beneficial cholesterol) less than 40 mg/dL for men or less than 50 mg/dL for women or if you are receiving treatment for low HDL
- Elevated fasting blood sugar of at least 100 mg/dL or if you are taking medications to control your blood sugar
So how do you START SOMEWHERE in determining your risk? I recommend starting with getting an accurate waist circumference. Waist circumference is a better predictor of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular risk factors and total mortality than Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is useful but doesn’t take muscle mass completely into the equation.
The waist measurement is taken at the narrowest point of the waist near the navel. If you wear your pants low on your hips, it’s not down there. If you have a belly, include this to get an accurate number. The point is to get information so that you can START SOMEWHERE making small changes to decrease your risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome. When you start with getting to an ideal weight, several of the other factors take care of themselves.
Remember this awesome quote by Jim Rohn: “Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” Waist circumference provides health clues and is something that you can start working on today. As that number improves, the other criteria are likely to follow. Most lifestyle diseases can be prevented or reversed and small changes can have a big impact. You can do it! I will help you.