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DIY Health Checks 3: Measure Your Waist

Most of us don’t like stepping onto the scale and confronting our weight. And while it’s always important to consider weight in our overall health picture, it turns out that our waist circumference is actually a more accurate indicator of potential health risks. So let’s put the scale to the side for now and start with a measuring tape instead. To get an accurate measurement, stand up and wrap the tape around your bare abdomen, just above your hip bones and making sure it’s parallel to the floor, fit the tape snugly without pushing into your skin, exhale and relax, and take the measurement. Of course, genetics, frame size and our beautifully diverse body shapes can also affect our waistlines, however the leading medical guideline is that having a waist circumference of more than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men significantly increases our risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Studies have also linked larger waist circumferences with higher levels of chronic inflammation which we know is a main contributor to many other health issues. So once you have your measurement, if you’re not happy with the number, consider some of these changes to help reduce the number: 1) increase your daily movement (make sure you are moving your body for at least 30 minutes 5x a week and crank up the intensity from time to time to jumpstart your metabolism; 2) reduce alcohol intake; 3) skip processed foods, reduce your sugar intake and watch your portion sizes; 4) make sure you are getting enough sleep (refer back to our sleep series to learn how much sleep is the right amount) and 5) drink plenty of water! As always, seek the help of your physician if you have a little bit longer of a way to go - and remember to be patient with yourself and just take it one day at a time.

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