Americans are obsessed with the weight scale. Turn on the TV and there is always a commercial on about food, diets or weight-loss, and yet we are the most obese country in the world. How does a first-world country with so many resources at our disposal have such poor eating habits? There is no one simple answer to this question. Misinformation, laziness, busy lifestyle, a poisoned food supply and gluttony are all to blame. If you have battled the bulge for years, this blog is for you.
It’s time to take control of your life and ask yourself some hard questions. Are you happy with your body? Do you make healthy choices? Are you addicted to sugar? Are you too lazy to cook? Do you overeat? You can’t out-train poor eating habits.
The weight scale is not even close to being the best metric to judge a person’s health. Body Fat (BF) and hip and waist circumference are much better indicators of a person’s health. Muscle is lean and weighs more than fat. A 180lb male with 8% BF is going to look completely different than 180lb male with 20% BF. The scale says that they weigh the same but their bodies are very different. The male with 8% BF is more lean and healthy than the male with 20% BF.
The scale doesn’t tell us very important information regarding our inner health, such as vitamin or mineral deficiencies, body fat percentage, body circumference or metabolic rate. Americans have been conditioned to look at their weight with blinders on and only think about the number on the scale. We have become obsessed with the scale, which really only shows a small part of our overall health.
Gender and sleep are also important factors to consider. Women retain more water than men, which drives women crazy and confuses them when they get on the scale. A person’s body weight can fluctuate between 2-5 lbs depending on how much water they retain. Many people just starting out on a workout regimen lose water weight first, which is misleading because water weight comes off faster than subcutaneous fat. People who lose water weight quickly can get frustrated when they don’t see the same significant changes in weight 3 months down the road. Your body doesn’t change at a linear pace—it will lose weight when it wants to and at times is resistant to change.
I always give my clients these tips:
1) Stop listening to what you hear on TV. Commercials are just trying to sell a product.
2) Never look at the scale-- go by how your clothes fit.
3) The longer it takes to prepare your food, the healthier it is for you.
4) Eat to live, don’t live to eat.
5) Eat good carbohydrates (nothing processed). Since when have carbohydrates been bad for you? I have heard so many people tell me “carbs are not good for you” or “I have to watch my carbohydrate intake”. That’s categorically wrong. You have to eat carbohydrates for energy, your brain and transporting protein, but it’s all about choice. A sweet potato is better to eat than regular potatoes; both are carbohydrates but the sweet potatoes are more nutritional.
6) Your biggest meal should be lunch and not dinner. Dinner should be lean meats and lots of vegetables and no starches or bread.
Eating correctly is easy. The hard part is controlling your cravings and re-programming your brain to make healthy choices, which boils down to having mental and self-discipline. If you polled Americans on what they should eat and what they shouldn’t, I can almost guarantee they would all have the correct answers. It really comes down to our choices and the time we put in. American are programmed to work too much, eat fast and then work some more, whereas Europeans do the opposite; they take time to prepare their meals, eat slowly and don’t overwork themselves and are, overall, healthier than Americans.
When it comes to measuring your body’s health, the most important metrics to pay attention to are the inches around your hips and waist and your body fat percentage. Don’t be frustrated by the number on the scale; check how your clothes fit and you can’t go wrong.