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Should You Focus On Weight Loss?

Timothy Takemoto/Flickr.

Is weight loss the most valuable metric in measuring your health?

It’s definitely important, because obesity is co-related with a number of ailments that can seriously impact one’s health and quality of life, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Obesity is also linked to certain cancers. One way to determine obesity is to calculate Body Mass Index, or the ratio of height to weight. BMI’s of 30 and above are clinically referred to as obese.

But there are other ways to measure total health, and looks go beyond weight. Physicians also pay attention to the condition of skin, hair, nails, and gums to estimate whether a person is healthy. Certain skin conditions indicate specific health issues, like brownish discolourations indicating the presence of Type 2 diabetes, or persistently itchy skin indicating non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And the health of your mouth is a good indicator of your overall health, because of the important role the mouth plays in managing the body’s bacterial balance. Even your tongue has a story to tell: traditional Chinese medicine practitioners have long looked at the colour and texture of tongues to learn whether their patients are ill or not.

Other indicators of health can be small and constantly changing, like waist circumference and other measurements. Frequency and quality of bathroom functions can tell you a lot about your health, as can the regularity and intensity of menstrual cycles. Paying attention to all these elements is a great way to learn more about how your body works. And knowing things like frequency of urination, regularity of cycles, and other information can really make a difference to your next conversation with your doctor or gynaecologist. Moreover, keeping a fitness diary can help you keep track of whether you’re able to run longer distances, or lift heavier weights, as you progress through your workouts.

Finally, the best indicator of health is how you’re actually feeling every day. Do you wake up exhausted? Are there pins and needles in your feet when you first stand up? Do you have frequent headaches? Do you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep? All these things, which you may take for granted, can add up to a larger picture of health and quality of life.