4 Ways to Assess Your Health (That Don’t Require a Scale)
People often equate health with a trim physique. Studies show shedding a few pounds can impact everything from blood pressure to cholesterol. And images on television and in magazines showcase “health” with pictures of men and women who are thin, toned and beautiful.
But it turns out the number on the scale doesn’t capture a clear picture of your overall health – no matter what the magazines are trying to sell you. In fact, according to Eunice Yu, M.D., internal medicine specialist at Henry Ford Health System, there are myriad ways to assess your health and vitality that go beyond stepping on the scale.
“If you’re overweight, it’s a good idea to lose weight, but there are also unhealthy ways to lose weight,” Dr. Yu explains. “And don’t forget, you can be thin and unhealthy – and overweight and fit.”
Here are just a few ways to keep your finger on the pulse of your health that don’t require weighing yourself:
- Monitor how you feel. “The best sign that your weight-loss efforts are enhancing your health is a general feeling of vitality,” Dr. Yu says.
- Track how much you sleep. Do you fall asleep easily and wake up feeling refreshed? Are you getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night? Do you find yourself dragging in the afternoon or are you energized throughout the day? Both the quality and the quantity of sleep you get each night is a great litmus test of your overall health.
- Keep tabs on your activities. From exercise to happy hour, your weekly activities are inextricably linked with your overall health and well-being. If you lunch with friends and hit yoga three times a week, you’re more likely to feel healthy and energized than if you sit on the couch watching TV.
- Assess your muscle strength. It’s no secret that muscle weighs more than fat. So, even if the number on the scale hasn’t moved – or (gasp!) you’ve gained a few pounds – don’t despair. If you’re lifting heavier weights and you’re staying within your targeted calorie range, you’re likely becoming stronger and healthier.
No matter what your weight, the key to ongoing success is celebrating the wellness goals you’ve already achieved. “The biggest benefit in terms of your heart, your blood pressure and your blood sugar is when you make the first lifestyle change you can sustain,” Dr. Yu says. “That’s what you should celebrate.”
Most important, remember that a healthy weight, blood sugar and blood pressure aren’t the only objectives. Motivation stems from feeling good – physically, emotionally and spiritually. That’s what sustains behavior change, not achieving your goal weight.
Looking for more tips on how to improve your overall health and wellness? Schedule an appointment with a primary care physician at henryford.com or by calling 1-800-HENRYFORD (436-7936).
Dr. Eunice Yu is an internal medicine specialist who sees adult patients at Henry Ford Medical Center — Fairlane in Dearborn.