Heavier but healthier than ever…
I’m heavier than I was but I’m healthier than I’ve ever been.
This just goes to show that weight is not a true determinant of health, and I’m not only going to explain why but I’m also going to tell you how to truly evaluate your health status so you can live your fullest life.
I’ve always been overweight according to the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale used to evaluate health by conventional medicine standards. Even at my lowest weight, during my peak fitness training days, I fell into the overweight category.
BMI is calculated by comparing your height and weight. It doesn’t take muscle mass versus fat mass into account; so as someone who has a more muscular and stocky build at 5 foot 5 inches, I’ll never win this assessment.
This is just one of the reasons why using BMI and weight are a poor assessment of health status.
On the other side of the BMI scale, as a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition® Practitioner I’ve also worked with plenty of clients who fell into a healthy BMI category but had a laundry list of health issues.
I currently weigh in somewhere between 138-143 lbs depending on what I’ve been eating, how I’ve been sleeping, how much stress I’m under and the phase of my menstrual cycle. I also currently have more energy, mental clarity, body confidence, quality sleep and stress tolerance than ever before.
When I was my lightest at 126 lbs, I struggled to stay awake in the afternoons, suffered from intense ear infections, felt anxious, was diagnosed with skin cancer, had frequent migraines and joint pain. And despite all of this, I was told I was the picture of perfect health at my annual physicals.
So why do we use weight to determine health status?
We frequently formulate an impression about a person’s health based upon how they look but just like being in a relationship, there’s way more to health and happiness than looks.
Weight isn’t even considered a vital sign. The four main vital health signs routinely monitored by medical professionals and healthcare providers include:
- Body temperature
- Pulse rate
- Respiration rate (rate of breathing)
- Blood pressure (Blood pressure is not considered a vital sign, but is often measured along with the vital signs.)
At best, these vital signs are critical indicators for acute trauma and illness such as infections, viruses, and heart attacks; but they fall short when it comes to assessing chronic health issues such as hormone imbalances, autoimmune conditions and even cancer – all of which I was suffering from when I was supposedly the picture of perfect health according to my vital signs at my annual physicals.
In this week’s video and blog, let’s talk about what being healthy really means; how to evaluate it and obtain it.
My story is not unique. I hear a similar story from clients all of the time…
“I’m exhausted. I can’t lose weight. I can’t tolerate stress well anymore. I have trouble sleeping and (fill in the blank with various other health concerns). I just don’t feel right in my body and yet my blood work keeps coming back normal.”
My first response to this is, “you know your body better than anybody so if something doesn’t feel right let that be your guiding light, not a set of test results that may or may not be investigating the right scenes of the crime.”
And next is, let’s use some functional lab testing to uncover hidden healing opportunities in the hormones, immune, digestion, detoxification, energy and nervous system.
Inflammation is at the root of all disease and dysfunction. It’s at the core of your fatigue, hormone imbalances, sleepless nights, skin conditions, digestive issues, aches, pains, autoimmunity and more.
The 4 main vital signs and even a complete blood chemistry blood panel don’t assess inflammation very well. These markers can alert you to the fact that inflammation is occurring in general but from there you’ll want to uncover why, where and how long has it been going on to understand the depths of its impacts.
Some of the most common tests for inflammation include:
- C-Reactive Protein (CRP) found through a blood test
- Calprotectin found through a stool sample test
- Metabolized and Free Cortisol found through a saliva or urine test
C-Reactive Protein will tell you there is inflammation but it won’t tell you where it is in the body, what’s causing it or how long it’s been around.
Calprotectin isolates inflammation in the gut or the intestinal tract giving you a better plan of attack. With this information you can investigate specific causes of inflammation such as food sensitivities, parasites, bacteria, yeast overgrowth and a number of other things.
Cortisol gives you the best overall picture. Based on metabolized cortisol values, you can assess the stages of HPA-axis or adrenal dysfunction, a key indicator for chronic stress and inflammation, and based on the 24-hour free cortisol pattern, you can assess where points of stress are happening throughout the day to give you insights on possible causes of inflammation.
At my worst, I was the picture of perfect health according to my blood markers and vital signs, but I was a hot mess according to my cortisol and calprotectin values.
The menstrual cycle has been emerging as a fifth vital sign due to recent research and for women this can actually be one of the best indicators for underlying chronic inflammation and dysfunction going on in the body. Cortisol is part of the endocrine system along with all of your other hormones, so when one goes down they all go down with it.
This fifth vital sign was a huge clue for me too. My menstrual cycle was off from the day it started indicating there was something going on with my health early on that progressively got worse over time resulting in the drained, bloated and unhappy version of myself in my 20’s despite being at my lightest.
Bottom line, health is not just about having good blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate or weight.
Being healthy really means:
- Having plenty of energy to take on anything that comes your way
- Waking up refreshed, motivated and ready to take on the day
- Eating with confidence and enjoyment
- Sleeping soundly through the night
- Being comfortable in your own skin
- Never or rarely ever getting sick
- Feeling like yourself
Feeling healthy in these ways indicates physiological stress and inflammation are low; the hormones, immune, digestive, detoxification, energy and nervous system are running on all cylinders preventing chronic disease and dysfunction.
If you aren’t feeling this way, there’s so much opportunity for you to feel better than you do today!
Know there is a better way to assess true health with the right lab tests and resources so you can feel like your best self and live life to the fullest every single day.
If you’d like to get your hands on the right lab tests and resources to find the missing pieces of your health puzzle, then click here to schedule a complimentary Ideal Health & Weight Discovery Session with me today!