109 The 5 Most Critical Health Measurements to Take
So, funny story. I’m a huge health geek and I love treating my own health as a science experiment. And I find that when I’m measuring and keeping track, I have more motivation to improve. If the scale says I gained a few pounds, I want to lose them. If I measure my biceps and find they are skinnier than other guys wrists, I want to gain some muscle. You get the idea.
So I was preparing this content about the 5 most critical health measurements, and I called my sister Angela for advice. Ten minutes into the conversation I wished I would have recorded the phone call. It was EXCELLENT. When I told her I wished I was recording she laughed and reminded me, “You know this part of what I do for a living, right?”
So we set up a podcast interview and you can listen to the whole thing here, or read on!
She gave tons of great tips and real world advice on how to overcome some of the “triggers” we may have about weighing and measuring, and how to use these things effectively to improve your health.
First of all, here’s Angela explaining how she works her magic with private clients:
“In a nutshell, I help people get unstuck. When people are trying to move forward in any area that their life, sometimes they can hit a plateau or they realize they have some self sabotaging behaviors. And that’s often to do with what’s going on in the deep subconscious mind. So I help people harness the power of the subconscious mind so they can continue to move forward. It’s pretty simple and yet very powerful and profound work.”
Measurement method one. The Scale. Weighing ourselves.
Weight is probably the most simple measurement to take. It’s the one that most people are familiar with. There may not be a house in America that doesn’t have a bathroom scale. So this is number one, not because it’s necessarily the most important or even the best.
But let me lay this out with a little bit of a story. I’ve got a friend who did not weigh himself for five years, he just got out of the habit. And then one day he decided to step on the bathroom scale and was absolutely shocked to discover he had gained 40 pounds and he hadn’t noticed it because it happened so slowly.
And in his case it became a very positive thing. Although he was alarmed that he hadn’t noticed he’d gained 40 pounds, it became a healthy trigger to turn that around and and he started being more healthy, exercising and eating better.
Why do you think it’s important that people weigh themselves on a regular basis?
We need to have a baseline. So what I suggest is that you choose a number that you’re moving towards. It may not be your final number. For instance, if you want to lose 50 pounds but it seems too daunting, set a goal to lose 10. If the scale triggers you, then take a sticky note, write 240 on it, and stick it over the numbers for a while! Sounds silly, but this activates our imagination and helps us see and believe the number we are shooting for.
Just celebrate and allow yourself to feel how you will feel when that is that the actual number. This does so many things, it positions you energetically, it teaches your subconscious mind, which is at the developmental level of a five year old. Then each morning just look at that number, and act accordingly. This technique is for those who are put off by measuring frequently, or just have a negative experience when they weigh themselves.
I think the other thing I’d throw out there is to just make sure you’re not comparing yourself to anybody else. We’ve all got our own bone structure. We are all built differently. There’s Mesomorphs and Ectomorphs and Endomorph body types. Each of our different body types differs in how much weight we ought to be carrying.
Critical Health Measurement Number Two: Body Fat
Body fat is more indicative of health than the actual scale because of the different body types that are out there.
The problem is, it’s kind of a bummer to measure. Traditional methods include the Bod Pod, Dexa Scan, Calipers, and submersion tanks. Those are highly inconvenient.
But did you know there is a *mostly* accurate scale you can use in the privacy of your own commode, that is less than $30 on Amazon? Yup, here it is! (note this is not an affiliate link, and there are likely similar units out there that are comparable)
Both Angela and I bought this same one prior to this episode, and we both love it! I have personally used the Bodpod, Dexa scan, calipers, and a similar scale to this one, but a few years older and without the accompanying app.
I can honestly say this is extremely accurate and kind of an amazing bargain at the current price of $26.
Angela: I love working off a baseline, when we see our trend, it’s so helpful. It so inspiring. It helps us modify our behaviors in the moment when we see what happened between today and yesterday. And then we can alter our choices based on that. And that’s what this does.
You’ve probably had this experience where you’re working out, you’re doing everything right and you keep going and going and going, but you’re not seeming to get any results. The body stays the same.
But what’s interesting is when you measure your body fat, there’s often some progress there when maybe measurement and the weight aren’t budging.
How accurate is this $30 a device? We’re not quite sure, but again, it comes to baseline. We just need our baseline and we go from there. It’s really just a form of feedback. So it doesn’t have to be a hundred percent precise.
Just kick perfection out the door and just look at this as a baseline that is consistent from where it started.
What we’re doing is gamifying this. Whenever we can gamify something, it adds more fun. It feels more like play and not work or effort.
So we gamify our health and fitness to make it more fun to improve.
Dave: I was hoping that people would listen to this and go, cool, I’m going to treat my body like a science experiment. And for me it really works. When I’m measuring, it tends to have built in motivation. Measuring weight and body fat tells me where I’m at, and challenges me to improve those numbers.
Listen to the podcast here, or subscribe to the Dirobi Health Show on iTunes, Stitcher, Google, or Spotify!
Critical health measurement numero Trois: Body measurements.
We have thousands and thousands of people that buy our product Pounds and Inches Drops to lose weight. And they want to lose POUNDS and INCHES.
And in the weight loss arena, I have just come to appreciate, there’s nothing like losing inches. It goes back to what you said about the scale. The scale doesn’t tell everything. The body fat doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story either. But when you take a tape measure and you wrap it around your neck and then your shoulders and then your arm and chest and waist etc., there are a lot of people that if they’ll take that baseline and then start a diet and they feel like the scale isn’t moving, but they take those measurements and they find that they’re actually having a transformation that isn’t yet that noticeable.
The Celebration Chart
Angela: I’ve measured many, many bodies. And I used to do the standard measurements. There’s maybe six or seven standard measurements. And I had a measurement chart that I was using and one of my clients had lost eight inches in four weeks and she was excited.
But she said, I lost a whole lot more than eight inches. We just measured, you know, seven or eight points of my body, so how many inches did I really lose? And that just was so intriguing to me. We started talking about why do we only measure this many parts of our bodies?
So I dove into measurement charts and I did a lot of research on that. And I have created the most robust measurement chart you’ve ever seen. I couldn’t find anything else like this. And I interviewed clients, I asked them for feedback and apparently to some of my clients that back measurement is extremely important. And to me, I wouldn’t even think about it. I was really actually quite surprised. Some of my clients told me atheir wrist measurement is really, really important. Again, I didn’t relate to that, but I said, your wish is my command. And I made it my mission to make the most ultimate measurement chart of all time. And I call it my celebration chart.
*** Contact Angela at angelabarrus.com to ask for a copy of the celebration chart, she will e-mail it to you. ***
So we take the measurements each week, and then on week four, we do all of those measurements again. Of course we measure how often they want to do it.
But what’s so amazing is when you add up all these 20 or so different measurements and you see then how many inches you’ve lost now, that’s so motivating.
It leans into positive behavioral modification. It helps them have more positive talk so that they’re giving really amazing, healthy, helpful instructions to their subconscious mind, which is now even more on board because they’re in that state of more flow as I call it.
Generally speaking I advise people to take these body measurements monthly.
Dave: For those of you in our Dirobi Transformation Program with Precision Nutrition and Procoach, you will get prodded to take those measurements every six weeks. It’s built into the software, you’re going to be asked to do that.
And as with all these measurements, the attitude is to record them, forget about them, then go back to work on our healthy behaviors, without stressing over the outcomes.
Numero Four Critical Health Measurement: Resting Heart Rate
Resting heart rate is a great indicator of cardiovascular health and endurance. This is why it’s one of the “Vitals” that your doctor always takes when you go for a physical. A big change in resting heart rate can be a sign of a health problem.
Resting heart rate is a very personal thing, some people’s natural resting heart rate is higher than others. So this is another area you don’t want to compare yourself to anybody else. For example, my good friend Gary who is super healthy has a resting heart rate of 40 beats a minute, but there are world-class Olympic athletes with phenomenal cardiovascular systems whose healthy resting heart rate is 60 so you don’t want to compare to anyone else. You just find out what your own ought to be, then check it on a regular basis.
Angela: I think it’s extremely important to do what we can to calm it down if it’s ramped up. In the Inner Wisdom program that I use, it’s really interesting because when a person turns to being more mindful, when you remove blocks and obstacles of the deep subconscious mind, they often learn a new breathing technique.
Their resting heart rate can calm down, things can improve. So being more mindful they can be extremely helpful to lowering resting heart rate.
Note that you need to do all these measurements at the same time and in the same conditions. So weigh yourself first thing in the morning, before you eat. Same with body fat and measurements. First thing in the morning, before food or exercise, is best.
Critical Health Measurement Five: Your Own Personal Performance Goals.
Whatever your health passion or exercise regimen, there is something in it you can measure. Runners often test their times in 400, the mile, 5K, etc.
Rowers will test how fast they can do a 200, 500, or 1000.
Power Hikers want to know how fast they can complete their favorite loop, etc.
Knowing your personal best in any area of health is another way of gamifying things, and motivating you to improve.
So the idea is establish those baselines like Angela talked about and then keep track of them.
It helps to create a persona health binder where you keep track of all these things. You can keep a simple running log of your weight, measurements, body fat, and even your yearly physical results.
Dave: I have a binder that has a 15 year history of health data, and it’s fascinating to look back through, to see how much I weighed etc, at various points in my life, depending on what I was doing or training for.
That being said…
You don’t want to be so stuck in the scientific side that you’re never having any fun, and you don’t want to hold back on the fun because you could have had even more fun at a slightly higher level.
By combining the art and the science, you might have more fun by being more geeky and the geeks might have more fun if they just had fun and were able to forget about all those measurements for a while and not make that the whole focus.
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