Are You Healthy?
7 Markers of Health that are
NOT Your Weight
Full transcription available at the bottom of this post
It's NOT about your weight
We talk a lot in this podcast about HEALTH being your goal instead of just weight loss being your goal. I am firmly in the camp that if you focus on increasing your health, weight loss will be a great side effect of that if your body needs to lose weight. ONLY focusing on losing weight all the time does not necessarily make you healthy. I could point to a lot of people who look very thin on the outside but inside are not very healthy. I could also point to a lot of women who would, by a BMI chart, be considered overweight but are SUPER healthy athletes. So what does it really mean to be healthy?
In my opinion whether or not you are healthy has 2 components: your experience of your body as healthy, and the hard numbers. How you experience your body, how you feel on a daily basis, how your body is able to perform in the ways that you want it to; that's all your subjective experience of your own health. And that is different for all of us. Then there's the numbers: things like your blood pressure, fasted insulin, and inflammation markers. Those are numbers that are more universal for what's considered healthy or not. They are super useful markers for us to measure our health against, and they are way more useful at giving us a picture of what's going on inside our bodies that just looking at our weight.
The cool thing about these 7 markers of health is that if you focus on trying to improve one, you'll improve all of them AND your weight as well! What I REALLY want is to set you free from being obsessed and fixated on weight. We've been so conditioned all our lives that we need to be a certain weight but your weight is just one of TONS of health markers and it's not super useful at telling us what's really going on inside. You'll be so much more empowered, encouraged, and motivated if you focus on these seven factors instead of just your weight.
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Show Notes & Transcript:
Hey, welcome back. We talk a lot in this podcast about health being your goal instead of just weight loss being your goal, I am firmly in the camp that if you focus on increasing your health weight loss will be a great side effect of that if your body needs to lose weight, focusing only on losing weight does not make you healthy. I could point to a lot of people who look very thin on the outside but inside are not very healthy. So what does it really mean then to be healthy? Today, I'm going to give you the seven markers of health that I would suggest you pay attention to and keep track of to have a really good gauge of if what you're doing is actually working, the things that you're trying and the changes that you're making. Are they actually making a difference? Even if your weight hasn't changed? Let's go.
Welcome back to the no nonsense wellness podcast, the place for women who are trying to do all the things and stay healthy, sane and actually enjoy life in the process. Hey, I'm Tara, a trained therapist, a life coach, a nutrition coach and a fitness instructor. And I'm on a mission to help you take back control of your mind, health and life. Each week, I'll be cutting through the nonsense and getting real with you. I'll bring you the insight and information you need to take control of your weight and health. Find food freedom, and finally break free from the thoughts that are sabotaging you and holding you back. You my friend are powerful and the world needs you to start showing up in a bigger way. It's time to get unstuck and start moving forward. So let's pop in those earbuds, tie up those shoes. Let's walk and talk
Hey, before we get started, I want to tell you about something really cool coming up starting November 15th. I have a two day masterclass called Healthy holidays. Did you know that the average American gains eight pounds over the holidays and then most of us don't lose it. So if you're worried about weight gain over the holidays, stress eating overeating. This masterclass is for you, you're going to learn my best strategies for overcoming emotional and stress eating, how to deal with the overwhelm of the holidays without turning to food, how to not start that diet you hate because you think that's the only way there is. We're also going to talk about how your body work. How does stress during the holidays affect your body? How does food choice affect your cravings during the holidays, we are touching on it all. And you're going to leave that masterclass with tons of skills and tools that you can use simple strategies and actionable steps that you can put into place right away, you're gonna be able to create your own plan based on your own needs to get through the craziness of the holidays without getting off track with your health. So if that sounds good to you head to tarafaulmann.com There's a banner right at the top called Healthy holidays, just hit that button and sign up. I would love to see you in there.
For the last about 12 years, I've been really focused on increasing my health. And that started in an effort to recover from an autoimmune disorder. And it continues because that autoimmune disorder never goes away. So as my body and my situations and my life just change all the time. I'm always working with my naturopath to make sure that I'm keeping on the right track that I'm staying healthy. But what does it actually mean to be healthy? If you asked around, you'd get a lot of different answers about what people consider to be healthy. So I'm going to give you my answers, I'm going to give you the seven things that I think you should be focusing on and keeping track of the first thing is what health actually feels like to you.
When you ask someone what is healthy, what you're gonna get is not a lot of scientific answers. What you're gonna get is a lot of subjective answers. And those are also important what health feels like to you is really important. In the past, I have gone to doctors who will take all the blood tests and they'll be like, Well, you're in the normal level for all these things. They told me I was healthy, but I knew that I was not healthy. I had a ton of symptoms. I felt terrible. I knew my body wasn't working right. Something was wrong, even though they were telling me I was fine. So that's kind of the opposite, right? They were telling me I was fine and I knew that I wasn't fine for me. Health didn't show up in the numbers. Health showed up in my subjective feeling of living in my own body. Does that make sense? sense. So right off, it's important to note that health is a feeling. Are you able to do the things that you want to do? Does your body perform and function the way you want it to? What are your personal markers of health? What are the things that you would strive for that would say, yes, if I could do this, or if I felt like this, I would be healthy. So for example, personally, I would say, if I can jog a mile and be fine, then I would feel like I was healthy. I would also ask, Am I sleeping? Well? Do I feel energetic? Or like, I'm not gonna make it throughout the day? How's my gut? How's my digestion? How does my skin look? How is my mood? For me? Those are all the subjective experiential things that I'm asking myself to determine my own health, that's going to be a different answer for all of us, right, my performance goal for me would be different than my 15 year old son would be different than my mom. So it's important to keep in mind your own subjective experience of your health and your body.
I also want to warn you here that we can really convince ourselves of a lot of things because currently, our culture for whatever reason, I have some theories seems to be glorifying, overweight and obese bodies in an effort to be body positive. So even though it's well intentioned, we are as a society in this weird place where we are glorifying, you know, health at all sizes, well, I'm sorry. But there is no such thing as health at all sizes, there is unhealthy at all sizes, and there is healthy, at healthy. And there's a big difference there. So I just want to be really careful that you're not trying to fool yourself into I am healthy, it doesn't matter if I'm 100 pounds overweight, I'm still healthy health and how you feel is one thing cold hard facts are another thing you need to pay attention to both. That's the endpoint here.
Okay, so we talked about the subjective part and how you feel in your body and how you feel your body is functioning. Now let's talk about some more concrete scientific things that we could pay attention to. The first thing is waist to hip ratio, taking your measurements and tracking them over time is going to be a much better indicator of what's going on in your body than just tracking your weight. Your waist to hip ratio is correlated with almost all chronic disease indicators. So the better that ratio, the more your risk of chronic disease goes down. The worse that ratio, the more your risk of chronic disorders goes up. You could also track body fat percentage instead of waist to hip ratio. But most scales that claim to measure body fat are wildly inaccurate and unreliable. So it's, in my opinion, best to just get out your old reliable tape measure and take some measurements. And again, whenever I suggest this to people, especially women, I always suggest take your weight and your measurements on days 10,11 and 12 of your cycle, that's usually your least bloated healthiest days of your cycle. And then only do it on those three days, every single month, and then track month to month how things look. But those measurements are really, really important. They're actually a lot more important than just your overall weight. I mean, think of like a super muscular bodybuilder, right, their weights going to be pretty high, they have a lot of muscle on their body. But that does not mean in any way that they're unhealthy. Now think of someone who is super skinny and has very little muscle and may eat lots of junk food but never put on weight, right? They don't weigh very much, but internally, they're probably not that healthy. So again, weight is not the determiner here, there's a lot more things going on that we need to pay attention to.
The next thing you need to pay attention to is inflammation is the root cause of almost every single disease process in your body. The root cause of increased inflammation can be present in your body without you actually being aware that it's going on. So early symptoms of chronic inflammation, which honestly most of us suffer from, they may be very vague, they may have just subtle signs and symptoms and they may go undetected for a really long time as inflammation progresses, though, it's gonna start damaging your arteries, your organs, your joints, and then as it progresses further, you're going to end up with some chronic diseases like heart disease, blood vessel disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Alzheimer's, basically everything right? Everything bad. Inflammation is at the root cause of that. Now, there's a lot of reasons that you might have a lot of inflammation in your body, and we're not gonna get totally into all of that. But the four biggest ways to reduce inflammation, diet, exercise, better sleep, less stress, you're gonna hear a recurring theme of that in this podcast. If you don't have a solid plan for addressing food, exercise, sleep and stress, may I introduce you to the Healthy Mind Healthy Body Program. Hi, I'm Tara, I'll be your coach. That's what we do in that program. Those are the four biggies. And then the fifth, even bigger, overarching concept is your mind and your thoughts and how those all work together inside your body. You need a solid plan to address that stuff. So the most common way to track and measure in inflammation is with a blood test, your doctor is probably going to test for a C reactive protein, which is a marker for inflammation. They'll probably also measure homocysteine levels to evaluate a chronic inflammation. And they also will probably test for a one C, which is a measurement of blood sugar, but it's assessing that damage to the red blood cells. So those are the three things that if you haven't been tested for those things you might want to get at your next doctor's appointment just to check on those inflammation levels.
The next thing you're going to want to track and pay attention to is your fasted insulin levels. Type Two Diabetes is running rampant in this country as of 2021, according to the CDC, one in 10 Americans has diabetes, one in 10, Americans, you guys 95% of those one, and 10 is type two diabetes. So remember, type one is the kind that you're born with type two is the kind that you create, through diet and lifestyle. That's more than 37 million Americans suffering and or dying from a preventable disease that again, comes from diet and lifestyle. When you go to the doctor, your doctor will most often test to find elevated blood glucose. So they're doing a blood glucose test and not a fasted insulin test. And that's a big difference. The problem is that our bodies are really, really good at managing that blood sugar like your body is going to work really, really hard to pump out enough insulin to keep those blood sugar levels stable. So only testing blood sugar is not going to catch a problem very early, you might already be well down the road to diabetes, heart disease and stroke. And you wouldn't be catching it if you're just testing blood sugar. So testing fasted insulin and a one C, there it is, again, regularly is going to give you indications that you might be in pre diabetes, you're going to find it faster, getting that advanced warning is going to give you enough time to then address the situation through diet through lifestyle, so that you don't actually end up with type two diabetes, let me repeat, this is preventable. If you catch it early, you can reverse it. But the trick is, you have to be willing to number one, do the things that are gonna reverse it, have a plan for that and being able to get the right testing so that you catch it earlier. Okay, so again, that was fast insulin testing.
We're already on number five, look at us go! The next one we're going to talk about is cholesterol, you need to get your cholesterol tested fairly regularly. Harvard reports that one in six Americans has high cholesterol, one in six Americans has high cholesterol, one in 10 had diabetes. So probably a lot of those is a lot of overlap. A lot of those same people have high cholesterol, and diabetes, when you have that high cholesterol, you are twice as likely to develop heart disease come on heart disease is still the leading cause of death in the United States, we have got to pay attention to this cholesterol in and of itself is not entirely bad. It is very important for your health to have the healthy cholesterol, right. And I'm sure you're aware of like the oversimplified but accurate bad cholesterol, good cholesterol, right? You've heard of these two things before. So the HDL is the good cholesterol, the LDL is the bad cholesterol, and the triglycerides are something else that you may have been tested for. And that's basically like just fat floating around in your bloodstream. So in order to get a complete cholesterol panel, you're going to at least want to get those three specific things measured, what you want to see is that your LDL, that quote unquote, bad cholesterol, and your triglycerides, that fat floating around in your blood, it's not exactly that. But we'll just say that. You want those at the lowest end of the spectrum and you want your age HDL that good cholesterol at the higher end of the spectrum. Now, I'll tell you, when I go in to my naturopath and get things tested, my blood lipid panel, which is what this is called, has like 12 things on it. Like there's 12 Different things I'm getting tested is a very thorough test. So I'll talk about this at the end too. But I just really want you to pay attention. And understand that there is a difference between what your doctor is testing and the things that you might actually need to be tested. Your doctor is probably doing the most very basic things. And I'm going to ask you to kind of step it up a notch here and get a little more thorough in that testing and monitoring.
The next thing I want you to pay attention to as a marker of health is your blood pressure. High blood pressure is not only a risk for heart disease and stroke by itself, but it also exists with other serious health issues. So it's like this canary in the coal mine your blood pressure, it can be a sign that there's a lot of different problems going on. In general, lower the blood pressure, the better now to low is not good either. That could be another sign of things going on, but paying attention and keeping that blood pressure in a acceptable range when About 120 over 80, right is that a spot that you're always trying to hit high blood pressure is called by doctors the silent killer. When you have high blood pressure, here's what's happening, the force that is being exerted onto your artery walls is much higher than it should be high blood pressure, that extra pressure puts strain on your heart, and increases your risk of a heart attack, heart disease and stroke. This is really serious, okay, your blood pressure is a sign. It is again, the canary in the coal mine that something is going wrong.
The other part of that that I want you to pay attention to is your resting heart rate and your heart rate recovery. So not only taking your blood pressure, but also taking your heart rate your pulse, right? How hard your heart has to work during rest, activity. And recovery is a very telling window into your overall health picture. Heart Health is trumping everything here, if my heart is not working, right, none of me works, right. So I need that heart to be working well. So I need to get a good gauge about how it's working blood pressure is one way to do that, then a resting heart rate and recovery is another way to do that. The WHO, the World Health Organization, their data shows a high correlation between an elevated resting heart rate and high blood pressure. Clearly, it seems like those two things would be related, right. And we already know that high blood pressure is the silent killer, if you have an elevated resting heart rate probably have elevated blood pressure, neither one of those things are going to be good, a normal resting heart rate is considered somewhere between 60 to 100 beats per minute. Even lower than that if you're in good shape, as long as it's somewhere ish between 60 and 100. Personally, I don't like to see a heart rate above 90 at rest anything above my 90 to me is indicating problems. But in general, the accepted numbers are 60 to 100.
Your heart rate recovery then is how fast your pulse returns to normal after you exercise. So if you do some sort of strenuous activity, and you get your heart rate really high, and then within two minutes of rest, so rest for two minutes, you should be able to bring your heart rate down by 20 to 52 beats per minute. So it was at its max, when you were exercising very strenuously, and then within two minutes, you should be able to lower that heart rate by 22 to 52 beats per minute, if your recovery rate is below 12 beats per minute, you are at a major risk for heart issues and type two diabetes, you have got problems. So if you are anywhere from 12 to 22, you need to do some work, your cardiovascular health is not great. And anywhere from 22 to 52, you're back into that safe for range, the faster you come down, the better usually pay attention to that this is a really good gauge of your overall health and functioning, how fast your heart can recover how fast your pulse recovers, after exercise.
And the last thing that I want you to pay attention to is whatever might be unique for you. So because of my unique health history, my own situation, there's a lot of other factors that I test for and that I monitor with my naturopath to make sure that we're just keeping track. So I'm getting full hormone panels, stress hormone panels, sex hormone panels, I'm getting liver and kidney function panels, I'm getting thyroid and thyroid antibody panels, I'm getting a lot of other stuff as well as the things that I mentioned. Because those are the things that for me, in my own health I need to monitor but these seven that we just talked about are things that you need to pay attention to. And they're going to be a way better gauge of your health and what's actually going on inside your body. This is going to give you a really good picture of what's working, what's not working and what might need to change. And then whatever you and your doctor deem is necessary. Other things that you need to be tracking, then track those for yourself as well.
I again, I just want to talk about the difference in doctors here. In my experience, when I was going to regular doctors again, I'm not like a doctor hater. I'm just telling you my experience, I did not receive very, very thorough testing from any of the doctors that I used to go to, again, those were the doctors who would take the blood and look at the one marker and they'd be like, well this one markers in the normal range. So you're fine bye. And I would walk out of there like no, I'm so not fine. Like I know that I am so not fine. And so it wasn't until I went to a naturopath that I got like some in depth thorough examination and testing and it painted a very different picture of what was going on inside my body and it was much more informative. And I had a much clearer path of what to do and how to do it. Like what are the things that I needed to change. It's a totally different experience. So if you are able, I always recommend going to a functional medicine doctor or a naturopath doctor because honestly they have more time the regular doctors, it's not their fault. It's the medical system in which they work. They do not have a lot of time for you. They do not have a lot of time to figure stuff out with you. It's not because they Don't want to it's not because they can't, it's not because they're horrible people, it's because their hands are tied. And so that's why I usually recommend going to a naturopath or a functional medicine doctor, someone in that realm because they are a little more able to be more thorough with you.
The other thing I really want you to hear in this episode, I want you to hear me really clearly when I say this, if you are overweight or obese, or obese, every single one of these markers will show that there is no kidding around it, you cannot be obese and healthy at the same time. And I'm sorry if that hurts your feelings, but I need to tell you the truth so that we can do something about it. Because ultimately, my goal is for you to be healthy. If you work, though, to improve any one of the markers that we talked about, your weight will also improve, as well as all the other markers. So to me, it's much more useful to focus on,
okay, how can I improve my cholesterol numbers? How can I improve my resting heart rate or my heart rate recovery, come up with a plan for that for that specific marker. And then when you're focused on that, every single everything else is going to improve as well, including your weight, they're all happening in the same body, you can't separate one thing from the rest. When one of these markers gets improved, they all get improved. So instead of always just focusing on your weight, your weight is one marker among many that indicate what actual health is. I feel like there's a lot of us who are in this category where maybe we feel like we're a little bit overweight, but we're not in the obese category, maybe we're carrying a little bit extra, in our opinion, right? You go to the doctor and you look at the BMI chart and you're like, oh my gosh, I'm borderline obese, but I don't really think I'm borderline obese, maybe you just carry more weight. And that's just your body frame. So you could have what a doctor would say is too much weight. But everyone your health markers is totally fine. And you are very healthy.
So we cannot get hung up on weight. I don't even I don't even know if it needs to be part of the conversation anymore. What we really need to get hung up on is all of these other markers of health. How long could you walk? If I told you to go take a walk right now? How long would you walk? How long could you jog? Alright, how many pushups Could you do? How did you wake up this morning? Did you feel like you needed to take a nap this afternoon? How's your mood? Are you in a good mood, like all of these things are much better indicators of what's going on in your body and how healthy you are than just your weight. So if I've done anything for you today, I hope that I can release from you a fixation on how much you weigh and help you embrace other ways to look at health. You are capable of achieving whatever level of health IT is that you are after. What you need is a plan. And if what you've been doing up to this point has not been working if you've been focusing solely on weight, and it's exhausting mentally and physically. If you're so tired of being so fixed on your weight and what that means about you and what that means about your body and what that means about your health. Let it go Let it go. I don't care how much you weigh. I do not care how much you weigh. I will never ask you I don't care. That is not the marker that's important to me. All these other markers are what's important to me. And I encourage you to make them important to you as well. You got this friend, and I'm here to help you ready for it. All right. Until we talk again, be well.
Friend, thanks so much for being here. If you found value in today's episode, will you do me a favor and head over to iTunes? Find the no nonsense wellness podcast and subscribe and leave me a review. It would mean the world to me and help other people find the show. And I'd love to connect with you more. So find me on Instagram. I'm @tarafaulmann. Take a screenshot of this episode and share it in your stories and tag me. I'll see you over there.