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What Does Weight Have to do With Health?

Rethinking how we think about weight.

Updated 11/2020

Excess weight is often accompanied by high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, and other health problems.”

From https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/ob_gdlns.pdf. Accessed 10/2019

The word “excess” in the above statement is key.

This is the “why” behind this conversation. And it’s not as simple as a number.

Consider this: let’s say you were the Wright Brothers trying to build a plane. They wanted littler amounts of weight to get the airplanes off the ground as they were considering how to help people fly. Check it out:

Mass = the amount of matter in an object

 Weight = the amount of force of gravity on an object

If you lived on the moon, your mass is the same but you would weigh less.

I’m not suggesting we all move to the moon. I’m not suggesting we build our own plane. I am suggesting we rethink our relationship with the word and meaning of “weight”.

Pretty sure people won’t be up for replacing the word “weight” with “metabolic storage capacity” to be slightly more accurate.

What we CAN do is change our perception and focus on our health and how we feel. If you are having weight-related health impact, that is the conversation we can have that will matter to YOU and how you feel.

“Every pound of excess weight exerts about 4 pounds of extra pressure on the knees.

So a person who is 10 pounds overweight has 40 pounds of extra pressure on his knees; if a person is 100 pounds overweight, that is 400 pounds of extra pressure on his knees.

“So if you think about all the steps you take in a day, you can see why it would lead to premature damage in weight-bearing joints,” says Dr. Matteson.”

Copied directly from: https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/comorbidities/obesity-arthritis/fat-and-arthritis.php. Accessed 10/2019.

That’s the context.

That’s hitting the reset button on how we think and talk about weight.

Here are three things to consider and try on for size:

Are you easily able to maintain the pull of gravity (your weight)? If your spare moments are caught up with gaining/losing weight within a 5-10 pound range, stop.  Bodies are not static. You will not weigh the same exact amount from moment to moment. Having a range helps you reconcile the human-ness of your body. Get rid of a “one number” mentality. It’s not helpful or realistic.

Are your metrics right? Forget clothing size as a guide. These numbers ebb and flow. Ever notice how from brand to brand you may wear a different size? This is so not the right metric. Instead, look at your health numbers. How is your blood pressure, your blood glucose, your cholesterol profile? These are your jam when it comes to numbers to consider.

Are you able to work with party foods? That unexpected donut in the break room. The holiday buffet. Wine Wednesday. Eat sensibly most often and allow room for the other reasons we eat and drink. Food expresses our culture, our family heritage, so many things. Consider your intake on a daily basis. Are you getting foods from each food group? If not, why? That’s the place to start. If you choose not to eat a certain food group, get familiar with the nutrients that group is known for and come up with a plan to get them.

Understand and embrace the individuality of bodies and genetic makeup.

Allow yourself room for all the interesting foods we have available to us. Enjoy the choices you make, and if you don’t, ask yourself why you are making them. Reach out to a dietitian like me, and/or a behavior change specialist. You don’t have to go this alone. You do have to care for yourself, and you deserve to.

choosemyplate.gov
Use this as your meal planning guide. How are you doing in terms of balance? What foods are you missing?  Start with seasonal fruits and veggies for fun (and nutrition), and pair them with your favorite protein, grain, dairy. Boom. You got this.

By Kim Kirchherr

Dietitian and ACSM Certified Personal Trainer with farm to table expertise.

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