Healthy Weight Action Plan: Why Waist Size Really Matters

Mommy needs a drink.

Mommy needs a drink. And a kick in the pants.

After two babies and 5 years of nursing, sleepless nights, postpartum depression and a growing affinity for “cocktail hour”, I sometimes feel like I could use a personal trainer myself. Not as a source of knowledge but more a source of inspiration. Motherhood keeps me motivated to be healthy but it has taken a little bit of wind from my fitness “sails”… or perhaps injected a more persistent but gentler wind that keeps me constantly afloat without ever really surging ahead as I did in my single days. I exercise, I eat well, I lead by example 95% of the time, but I just don’t feel compelled to strive for perfection anymore.

There are a lot of ways to get motivated to improve your fitness and health.  A trainer or coach can be crucial to keeping you afloat. A deadline or goal keeps you on track. An expected reward keeps your eye on the prize. Sometimes, just fear of the consequences if you don’t follow through on your health goals can be motivation enough. For example…

1 in 3 Canadian women dies of heart disease or stroke. Do a quick count of your female family members. Your odds don’t look very good, do they?

I’ve considered my own risk factors and I think I’m pretty likely to escape heart disease. But we’ve all heard the story of someone who seems healthy and one day goes out for a jog and never comes back. I don’t want to be one of those stories. So when the Heart & Stroke Foundation asked me to test and review their Healthy Weight Action Plan, I agreed right away. I need a little motivation just as much as the next gal.

Healthy Weight Action PlanThe Healthy Weight Action Plan is easy to use, free and based on the most up-to-date scientific research on weight loss, weight maintenance and weight as a risk factor for heart disease & stroke. There are just 6 steps:

  1. Signing up
  2. Logging and assessing your current habits
  3. Getting your recommended plan
  4. Setting goals
  5. Creating a plan
  6. Tracking success

So over the next 6 months I’ll be tracking my personal progress on the Healthy Weight Action Plan site and implementing some of the recommendations on my own quest for optimal fitness.

Want to try it along with me? The only thing you need to do to get started is sign up with your basic information and 2 important numbers: your weight and your waist circumference. Although everyone makes a big fuss about weight and BMI, we trainers know you really can’t judge a book by its weight... or something like that… some of the fittest people register as “overweight” on a BMI scale because of heavy muscle and bone mass, while some very unhealthy but “skinnyfat” people might have a healthy BMI but be one Cinnabon away from a heart attack. Combine BMI with a waist measurement (or – even better – a waist-to-hip ratio to give a picture of overall shape and not just size) and you’ve got one powerful predictor for heart disease risk and a good indication of body composition (i.e., what proportions of fat and lean tissue make up your body).

Here’s a great explanation of how to take a waist measurement and when & why you should be concerned about your waist:

So please join me! Comment below if you’re on your own healthy quest this year. Maybe you’ve got a New Year’s Resolution to finally take off the last 10 pounds. Or maybe you’ve got a half-marathon coming up this summer and you know you’ll be faster on your feet if you optimize your weight. Or maybe you’re battling the postpartum bulge.

Whatever the reason, we can all use a little support! And a little beer. But we’ll just have to save that for cheat night, won’t we?