After weeks of fun festivities filled with delicious foods that were happily consumed in the name of holiday spirit, the day that seemed so far away has finally arrived — the time that you’ve told yourself for weeks would be the hour of your re-commitment to a healthier lifestyle.
New Year’s resolutions — they seem like such a good idea at the time.
Statistics published by the University of Scranton report that about 45 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions — the most popular being to lose weight — yet only a mere 8 percent actually achieve them. Why? Perhaps those resolved to lose weight are setting themselves up for failure because they’re going about it the wrong way.
“People have been brainwashed into thinking that it’s just about the number on the scale,” said Charles Baerman, co-owner of Baer Fit in Springboro. “It’s about what you’re made of.”
Baerman, who holds doctoral degrees in Nutrition Chemistry and Exercise Physiology, recommends that his clients focus more on their body mass index (BMI) instead of the number on the scale to determine what is a healthy weight for them.
Body mass index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. BMI provides a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is often used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
The CDC also recommends using waist circumference as a means of assessing weight. It’s long been known that excessive abdominal fat is serious because it can place individuals at greater risk for developing obesity-related conditions, such as Type 2 Diabetes, high blood cholesterol, high triglycerides, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease.
How to determine BMI and waist circumference
The CDC has an easy BMI calculator on the website that simply requires an individual to input their height and weight to have an instant BMI reading. However, BMI can also be calculated manually by following these simple steps (this example uses a person weighing 100 pounds, 5 feet tall):
Step one: Take your height in inches and square it (multiply it by itself) 60 x 60 = 3600
Step two: Take your weight in pounds and divide it by the number you came up with in step one 100 ÷ 3600 = 0.028
Step three: Take the number from step two and multiple it by 703 – the answer is your BMI. 0.028 x 703 = 19.68
Once you have your BMI number, compare it to the following guidelines provided by the CDC:
• If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range
• If your BMI is l8.5 to 24.9, it falls within the normal or healthy weight range
• If your BMI is 25.0 to 29.9, it falls within the overweight range
• If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obese range
“You weigh 100 pounds, but if you’re 30 percent body fat, you’re considered obese,” said Baerman. “I tell my clients that a BMI of 20 percent is completely doable and, more importantly, maintainable without feeling like you’re depriving yourself.”
For his clients that insist on a bathroom scale, Baerman recommends the ones that include a BMI reading. “They might not be 100 percent accurate, but they can give someone a pretty good idea of their BMI range,” said Baerman.
To measure waist circumference, the CDC advises placing a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above your hip bone, making sure that the tape is snug, but does not compress your skin, and is parallel to the floor. Relax, exhale and measure your waist.
Your waistline may be indicating a higher risk of developing obesity-related conditions if you are:
• A man whose waist circumference is more than 40 inches
• A non-pregnant woman whose waist circumference is more than 35 inches
“You can be skinny and unhealthy, but you can’t be healthy and overweight,” Baerman said.
“Your body fat percentage really does give you the best marker for your state of health.”
For access to the easy BMI calculator, visit the CDC website at: www.cdc.gov/healthyweight.