What is your why? Why do you do anything at all?
You may clearly know this answer or have formed insight into these questions by starting with Part 1 of this Autumnal Cleanse. If not, no worries! You can start by clicking HERE.
This cleanse starts by declaring intentions for welcoming life-enhancing habits and letting go of things that no longer serve you. Whether it is a toxic relationship, lifestyle, thoughts or foods…By setting intentions to improve your habits, you strengthen your alignment with what matters most to you.
Whatever you decide what your ‘why’ is, having a healthy body, mind and spirit will help you towards it. While many of us wish we could wake up one day and find that all our goals and intentions have miraculously occurred, this is not the case. To manifest anything, you must put effort into the process of achievement. You must reach for what you care about, not sit back and wait!
When I speak with my patients about their health goals, I find that many of them want to lose weight! And this is so common because more than two-thirds of American adults are overweight. That means that fewer than one out of three people maintain a healthy weight!
But our understanding of weight really needs some clearing up.
What’s in Your Weight?
The Body Mass Index scale is often a method used for diagnosing whether you are underweight, overweight or obese…While it measures your weight in relation to your height, it has limitations.
Your results from the BMI or your bathroom scale does not provide an accurate measurement of your body composition-your body fat, protein, mineral or water content, nor do they consider your racial and gender differences. And it can overestimate body fat in athletes who have a muscular build or underestimate body fat in older people who have lost muscle.
That’s why, at the Grewal Center for Mind Body Medicine, I use my InBody DexaScale. It considers many of these important aspects, and along with my experience in the medical field, these measurements provide an indication about your health and where your weight is coming from.
Why Your Scale Is a Liar
Your scale is not the ultimate tool for understanding your progression towards weight loss or gain.
When you are trying to lose weight, you may step on a scale to judge your progress by the number staring up at you…However, your scale does not indicate your health, it only validates a vague standard that may not actually fit your goals.
As you aim towards what’s really important here-your health, neither BMI nor your bathroom scale differentiate the aspects of your body composition.
For example, one of my patients became upset, when after weeks of exercising, she stepped on the scale and the number went up! How? She was feeling better, had more energy, lost inches on her waist, and fit into her clothes more comfortably!
When we reviewed her InBody DEXAscale results, she saw she had gained several pounds of muscle mass, which ultimately contributed to her wellness and ability to lower her body fat content. She just needed to understand her body composition.
Body Composition: How Your Body Stores Fat
Adipose tissue, or what is commonly known as ‘body fat’ is stored throughout your body in these three ways:
1. Essential Fat: Helps your gut absorb certain nutrients in food, provides you with energy and is involved in hormone regulation. Located in your bone marrow, brain, nerves, and in the membranes that protect your organs.
2. Subcutaneous: This is the fat that is beneath your skin that you can pinch-this is the majority of the type of fat you have. It is healthy to have a certain amount however too much can lead to imbalanced hormone levels and sensitivity.
3. Visceral: Found commonly around your belly, this fat is also stored around your major organs-heart, liver, kidneys, pancreas and intestines. Excessive visceral fat puts you at risk for developing cardiometabolic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke as well as some cancers. As visceral fat buildup is common around your belly, its location near your intestines can cause the dangerous substances released by visceral fat to travel to your liver. Once there it affects the liver's functions, causing insulin resistance as well as being linked to higher total cholesterol, and LDL (bad) cholesterol while lowering your HDL (good) cholesterol.
When your body fat percentages are in appropriate ranges, your body will be functioning at its best. However, as mentioned above, having too much visceral fat can put you at risk for cardiometabolic dysfunction and disease which affects up to one-third of U.S adults.
There are other factors for cardiometabolic risk that even normal-weight people (as defined by a BMI of <25 kg) may experience. This happens if a normal-weight person has a combination of too high or low levels of blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, or triglycerides (type of fat found in the blood). Being normal-weight does not mean you are healthy.
Your chances of developing cardiometabolic disease increases with age, if you have or had certain diseases such as sleep apnea or polycystic ovary syndrome, a predisposition to diabetes or gestational diabetes, your ethnicity (statistics show elevated risks for varying groups), and if you are obese.
It is important for me as a doctor, to figure out the reason for these imbalances and provide a lifestyle prescription that will help you decrease higher risks of mortality and/or cardiovascular events. With intervention and an early diagnosis, the course of cardiometabolic disease may be controlled or reversed.
The Best Reason to Maintain Health Body Composition
Remember, your weight is only one indication of your health, it is not the defining factor. And no matter what your current body composition indicates, there are things you can do to direct yourself towards better overall wellness. Beyond managing stress, enhancing your nutrition (Which we discussed in Part 2 of this Autumnal Cleanse series), and paying attention to your spiritual needs, incorporating daily physical activity is a must!
Aiming for regular moderately-intense physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help you control your weight and lose belly fat. This a great way to lower your visceral fat which in turn, lowers yours risk for cardiometabolic disease.
And this is where I return to the question: What is your why?
Use your answer as part of your motivation for success in committing to your health.
Perhaps your ‘why’, is that you want to be healthy to provide a good example for your children. This is great, because studies have shown that a child with one parent that is obese has a 50 percent chance of being obese and when both parents are obese, the child’s percentage increases to 80 percent!
Physical Activity Ideas for the Fall
Autumn is a great time of year to get your exercise routine revved up. The temperatures are often easier to handle, and outdoor activities such as hiking offer the visual reward of colorful leaves. In fact, studies have shown that mountain hiking boosts your emotions, mental stimulation and lowers your fatigue more than running on a treadmill inside.
There are also a wide range of exercise classes suited for whatever your physical needs may be. In fact, at the Grewal Center for Mind Body Medicine we offer a FREE yoga day every Tuesday in collaboration with You Call This Yoga, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization comprised of yoga teachers and advisors who provide yoga classes that are accessible and adaptable for all people.
And if you are having a hard time trying to decide what to do, our Health Coach, Gin Burchfield has a tip and an easy-to-remember routine to get you feeling great:
Tip: Every day, before breakfast, try to get in at least 20 minutes of movement. This will stimulate your digestion and help produce bowel movement.
Gin’s Must-Do 20 Minute Exercise Routine
5 Minutes of Cardio (Jumping jacks, plank jacks, running...)
4 Minutes of Plyometrics (Jump lunges, burpees, squat jumps…)
3 Minutes of Weight Training (rows, pushups, dips…)
2 Minutes of Abdominal Training (crunches, mountain climbers, seated knee tucks…)
1 Minute of a Sustained Action (plank, boat pose, side plank)
& Finish with
5 Minutes of Stretching
For more information on Functional Medicine visit my website at KiranGrewalMD.com and follow us on Instagram & Facebook for daily health tips, information and inspiration.
To Your Health,
Kiran Grewal MD & Gin Burchfield, Health Coach at the Grewal Center for Mind Body Medicine
"My goal is to share my knowledge with the world. I believe in delivering valuable and ethical content that changes the lives of my patients." -Kiran Grewal MD