You totally want to ditch your scale, don’t you?

You may have this weird kind of relationship with your “weight.”

I mean, it doesn’t define you (obviously).

What you weigh can matter but only to a certain extent.

Let’s look at your waist circumference (well…you look at yours and I’ll look at mine).

Waist Circumference (AKA “Belly Fat”)

Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”? The apple is kinda round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, kinda beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.

THAT is what we’re talking about here.

Do you know which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases).

Yup – that apple!

And it’s not because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top”. The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs there.

This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that’s where a lot of the problem actually is. It’s this “un-pinchable” fat.

The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.

And apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than pear-shaped people do.

So as you can see where your fat is stored is more important than how much you weigh.

Why Your Waist Circumference Matters 100x More Than What You WeighAm I an apple or a pear?

It’s pretty simple to find out if you’re in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way is to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape. You can do it right now.

First, it’s not polite to talk about people’s size. It doesn’t make people popular to tell others that they are obese. Yet, there are still enough studies done on waist circumference to let us know how important this is independent of other factors. This is not about shaming those with higher numbers; it’s about health.

Women, if your waist is 30” or more, you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and have double the risk of coronary heart disease than when your waist was less than that. A waist measurement of 38″ triples that risk. Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course.

For men, the number is 40 inches.

[If you want another way to measure your risk, you can measure both your waist and hips. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. Scientists found that women with a ratio greater than 0.76, doubled their risk of coronary heart disease; a waist to hip ratio greater than 0.88 tripled it.]

Of course, this isn’t a diagnostic tool. There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases. Waist circumference is just one of them.

If you have concerns definitely see your doctor.

Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:

Eat more fiber. Fiber can help reduce belly fat in a few ways. First of all, it helps you feel full and also helps to reduce the amount of calories you absorb from your food. Some examples of high-fiber foods are brussel sprouts, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and blackberries.

Add more protein to your day. Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer. It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.

Nix added sugars. This means ditch the processed sweetened foods—especially those sweet drinks (even 100% pure juice).

Move more. Get some aerobic exercise. Lift some weights. Walk and take the stairs. It all adds up.

Stress less. Seriously! Elevated levels in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive abdominal fat.

Get more sleep. Try making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel (and look.) If you need some tips on sleeping better, I have a video full of great tips you can find in the free Facebook group: The Whole Health Community.


Recipe (High fiber side dish): Garlic Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4

1 lb Brussels sprouts (washed, ends removed, halved)
2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
dash salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a bowl toss sprouts with garlic, oil, and lemon juice. Spread on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for about 15 minutes. Toss.

Bake for another 10 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip: Brussel sprouts contain the fat-soluble bone-loving vitamin K. You may want to eat them more often.

Photo Credits: Photo by Keenan Loo, Benjamin Wong, and Jess Watters on Unsplash

References: healthline1, 2, and 3Harvard, Health Canada, Precision Nutrition 1 and 2Dr. Sharma, and the Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 280, No. 21, pp. 1843-48.