It’s a common belief that slim people must be healthy, motivated and active. Either that, or they have been “blessed” with amazing metabolism.
On the other hand, overweight people are clearly unhealthy, weak-willed and lazy. Or they have been “cursed” with slow metabolism.
But it isn’t that black and white.
Coming off my last post on How to Tackle Those Last 10 Pounds, I wanted to discuss some of the signs you need to work on your health, regardless of your weight. There simply is not a direct correlation between body weight and overall health. You can be thin and extraordinarily unhealthy. Or you can be “overweight” and totally thriving. It’s time to look beyond body weight when assessing your health (or the health of someone else).
But how do you know if your health is a concern? Here are my Top 5 Signs your health isn’t quite where it should be:
First of all, let’s define constipation. You might be thinking that having a bowel movement every couple of days is totally normal. In truth, you are constipated if you are not having a BM every single day.
Think about how often you eat. Now think about how often you poop… It doesn’t add up does it? How can you keep putting stuff in, without anything coming out?
When digestion slows in this way, one of your body’s main forms of detoxification–elimination–is being restricted. Instead of exiting the body, these toxins remain in your system. This can lead to leaky gut, dysbiosis (an imbalance of gut flora), and a host of other problems. Not to mention, constipation is seriously uncomfortable.
If you’re not having a quality poop every day, digestion definitely needs to be addressed, working from the top down (i.e. what you’re eating, how well you’re chewing, stomach acid production, etc).
2. Poor Sleep
Sleep is so crucial. It’s your body’s time to rest, heal and recharge. And yet, despite it’s importance, we tend to put quality sleep low on our list of priorities. There’s always so much to do. “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is a phrase I truly despise.
When someone tells me they are going to get up an hour earlier to exercise before work, I say, “Great! Are you going to go to bed an hour (or two) earlier as well?” If not, then sleep trumps exercise! You should never sacrifice necessary sleep for the sake of adding more stress to your body. Getting your 7-9 hours of shuteye is a top priority when it comes to improving overall health.
Scheduling in your sleep time is one thing, but actually sleeping through the night is another issue. So many of us are plagued with sleep disorders like insomnia or waking in the middle of the night. Obviously stress can be a major cause, but other culprits are likely hormonal or blood sugar imbalances.
3. Low Energy
This can go hand in hand with the previous one–obviously poor sleep quality can lead to low energy. However, if you’re getting adequate sleep and you’re still dragging your feet, something else could be off.
Before you jump to disorders like hypothyroidism or adrenal fatigue, take a look at what you’re eating. Odds are your poor energy levels are due to your diet.
When most of your calories come from carbohydrates (yes, even whole forms), your body runs on glucose and becomes dependent on constant hits of sugar to keep it going. Ideally, your body should be able to run on both sugar and fat. Fat is actually the preferred energy source for the heart!
To keep your energy levels consistent, eat balanced meals that contain plenty of protein, healthy fats, and a moderate amount of quality carbohydrate–you know, like vegetables!
4. Irregular Cycles
Ladies, this one is for you. As I touched on in my previous post, your period is an excellent way to gauge your overall health. If anything is significantly “off” in your body, survival will take precedence over reproduction. In other words, your body will delegate its slim resources to keeping you alive.
If your period arrives irregularly, if it lasts too long, if it comes with severe PMS or cramping, or if it doesn’t come at all, these are all red flags that some critical systems aren’t working as they should be.
Whether you plan to have children in the near future or not at all, you should still be concerned with having a healthy period. After all, being a woman is hard enough without having to deal with all of that!
5. Skin Problems
As a long-time sufferer of eczema, I can totally commiserate with those of you who suffer from chronic skin disorders. I tried every cream and ointment out there to remedy my rashes, and nothing really worked. That’s because they were only treating the symptom–the itchy, red skin–and not the cause.
It wasn’t until I got a handle on my food intolerances (in my case, dairy) that I saw my condition improve. In fact, since eliminating all dairy (aside from butter) a couple years ago, I haven’t had one single eczema flare. Totally worth it.
Rashes, acne, and other skin problems are often a sign of inflammation. And often this inflammation is caused by food intolerances or allergies, or, again, an over-consumption of sugar/carbohydrates. Rather than keep searching for the miracle cream, you may want to get tested for food allergies or try an elimination diet.
The Bottom Line
You might notice that all of these signs come back to what you are putting in your mouth. Your diet is the #1 foundation for your health. That’s where it all begins. Quite frankly, I don’t care if your diet helped you lose 50 pounds if at the same time it left you tired, hungry, moody, etc. If you don’t feel good, what you’re doing is not working.
If you are still suffering from any of the above signs, it’s time to take a fresh look at your daily diet and habits, whether you have 5% body fat or 35% body fat.
Questions? Post them in the comments or reach out to me at carly at strivetothrivenutrition dot com.
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