Know your baseline

Do you ever feel overwhelmed, frustrated, or confused about the enormous amount of health information and opinions currently available?  If you are like most of our patients then you answered Yes!  Let us at Hannon Chiropractic be your go to place in Hesperia to make it easy for you.  It is our passion to blend the wisdom of years of clinical experience with the latest research to help you live life to your fullest potential.

Did you know? It is estimated that 71% of adult Americans are overweight and obese.  However, adults are not the only ones who need to be concerned with their health, the number of overweight and obese kids is on the rise; estimated at about 30% of American youth.  Being overweight increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions including: high blood pressure, arthritis, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, metabolic syndrome, stroke, fatty liver, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, hormone imbalance, and some cancers (endometrial cancer, breast cancer, and colon cancer).  These risks translate into personal economic impact through higher insurance premiums, medications, and doctor visits.  Did you know that the top reason Americans file bankruptcy is due to medical debt, and the majority of those people had insurance?!  The estimated impact of overweight and obese Americans is well into the billions; expected to rise from about $100 billion to about $956.9 billion by 2030 according to the CDC.  Approximately half of these healthcare costs are paid by Medicare and Medicaid, which receives its funding from tax payers.

Why get healthy?  People often say they want to get healthy to have that great looking body, loose weight, get ready for that wedding or tone up.  But, there are other reasons to make this lifestyle change.  How about more energy, lower insurance premiums, normal blood pressure, feeling better about yourself, increased mental clarity, or being able to play with your kids or grandkids?  I often ask people what they would like to do when they retire.  The top response is travel and visit with friends and family.  Then I ask “what are you currently doing to ensure that when you retire you will be able to have this active lifestyle?”  The common answer here is: nothing, no exercise, no healthy diet, and no supplements.  Sure, people are saving money, paying down debt, buying stocks, buying real estate, putting money into 401k or IRA’s.  But, having the money for financial freedom is only part of the picture.  It is said that most people spend the first half of life chasing wealth, while the second half they chase health.  Don’t be most people.

Where do I start to get healthy you ask?  First, get a baseline and know where you stand.  To achieve any goal in life you must take a current assessment, consult experts, formulate a plan that puts you on the correct path to achieve the goal, and re-asses periodically and coarse correct accordingly.  So, get a notebook and write down your reason why you want to get healthy, your height, weight, BMI (body mass index), waist measurement, hip measurement, waist to hip ratio, arm circumference measurement, thigh circumference measurement, get a yearly check up blood lab and find out your percent body fat.  These measurements will be referred to later, in order to monitor progress; I suggest re-measuring at 3 month intervals, except for your blood labs which are generally monitored once per year.  The next step is to get educated on what it means to be healthy; for example what foods to eat, how to cook healthy, how to read and understand food labels, how to start an exercise program, what supplements to take, and how to make this a lifestyle change and not just a diet and exercises program that you hate.  As always, it is a good idea to consult with your health care practitioner about making this lifestyle change.  I highly recommend having a trained professional, like myself or our health coach, guide you through your journey to a higher level of health.

What is BMI?  Body Mass Index is one of the standard screens used to find out the appropriate weight for an individual of a specific height.  To calculate your BMI use the following formula (or just use a BMI calculator on the internet it’s easier): take your weight in kilograms and divide that by the square of your height in meters.

Now that you have your BMI what does this mean?  Where are you currently?  Where should you be to be healthy?  Compare your value to the chart below:

BMI Classification
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 to 24.9 Healthy weight
25.0 to 29.9 Overweight
30 or higher Obese

One thing to remember is that BMI does not directly measure body fat, and for that reason some people, such as athletes or body builders, may have a higher BMI that correlates to being overweight, even though they are not.  Now, let’s calculate your hip to waist ratio.  First, measure the circumference of your hips at the widest part of your buttocks, and then measure your waist at the smaller circumference of your natural waist (normally above the belly button).  Now, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.  Research shows that, people who carry more weight around the hips, or “pear-shaped”, are at less of a health risk than those people who carry more weight around the waist, or “apple-shaped”.  Compare your value to the chart.

Male Female Health Risk
0.95 or below 0.80 or below Low risk
0.96 to 1.0 0.81 to 0.85 Moderate risk
1.0 + 0.85+ High risk

Now that you have your baseline lets talk about healthy eating.  Healthy eating has the stigma of higher prices, longer preparation or cooking time, and inconvenience.  But it doesn’t have to be that way, which is why having a health coach can be so helpful.  What I hope to achieve here is that once you understand what is healthy and what is not, you will make better choices about what you order while eating out, and what you purchase while grocery shopping.  Unfortunately most restaurants and fast food places do not use good quality ingredients, and therefor can be quite tricky to navigate to eat healthy.  Rule of thumb here is if it is colorful, near its original grown state (not processed), and doesn’t last for much longer than a week, it’s probably good for you.  So, what are we talking about here?  We are talking about organic, whole foods, whole grains, no steroids, no chemicals, and no preservatives.  These foods contain more nutrients when consumed in their raw state; for example when you steam or boil vegetables, some of the nutritional value is lost in the steam and water.  Appreciate that we are learning there is no one diet fits all, when it comes to specific diet plans.  So people do great as vegans, some people do not, some people do good with keto diets, others do not; so we will save the specifics for later.  Bottom line is that most people would greatly benefit from simply eating well balanced meals (mostly vegetables, appropriate portion of meat or protein, fiber, and some healthy fat) from the cleanest sources (organic, home grown, non GMO, etc).

For a product to be certified organic, it must be grown and processed, from the farm to the store, following certain guidelines.  These guidelines include a list of prohibited synthetic and non-synthetic substances; such as pesticides, fertilizers, and steroids.  Therefore, organic foods are produced without the use antibiotics, synthetic hormones, genetic engineering, sewage sludge, irradiation, or cloning animals.  In the U.S., the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone (rbGH) is allowed but, its use has been banned in the European Union and Canada.  In fact, the European Union has banned the import of some of U.S. beef due the hormones used.  Organic foods are to be minimally processed without artificial ingredients, or preservatives.  Purchasers need to look for the “USDA Organic” and “100% Organic” labels.  However, just because something is organic doesn’t mean it’s healthy.  Take organic fruit juice for example, you need to read the label and make sure you’re getting whole food and not just organic sugar water; being whole food will add fiber to the juice and slow down the rate the sugar hits the blood stream (for more information on this read up on Glycemic index and Glycemic load).

Organic farmers maintain a system of farming that replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic chemicals.  This is very important to consumers, in that the crops get their vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from the soil.  In other words due to the push for higher yields per acre, and therefore cheaper food, the most soil is being depleted of nutrients and the vegetables grown in that field will be of less nutritional value.  Organic fruit and vegetables have been shown to have more vitamin C, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and antioxidants than conventional produce. As for conventional produce grown in now depleted fields, they are less nutritious than the produce eaten by our mothers and fathers.  When preparing produce remember how many people are handling your produce prior to you eating it: the people who may be picking it, waxing it, packaging it, shipping it, local store setting up the display, and other shoppers picking through the produce.  Any one of these people can spread germs through contact with the produce, so bottom line here is to wash your food before you eat it.

One common discussion that comes up is the issue of carbohydrates.  In a simple answer yes our body needs carbohydrates; the debate is how much per day and from what source.  But, the simple truth is that there are unhealthy sources of carbohydrates, such as cookies, doughnuts (refined sugars and artificial sweeteners), and white bread (refined flower), and healthy sources of carbohydrates, such as vegetables, whole foods, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. 

The short version is we need to get educated and make better decisions about what foods we eat.  We need to eat more nutritious foods, and reduce the amount of calorie intake from beverages such as sodas and lattés.  Better decisions such as: steamed veggies or a side salad with olive oil and balsamic dressing instead of French fries, the fruit or vegetables instead of the baked potato with butter and sour cream, water instead of soda.  Remember the other part of being healthy is also the quantity and quality of our activity.  Rule of thumb here is that 30 min of exercise a day will maintain your weight and 50 minutes a day is needed to burn those excess calories and loose weight.  To quote Henry Ford “whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right”

If you want more information enter your email address on our website for our free guide to building a foundation of health or contact us about our health coaching services.


1 thought on “Know your baseline”

  1. I personally know that Dr. Hannon is the most informed chiropractic physician on the issues of proper nutrition and the health benefits associated with it than any other chiropractor I have met. He has made it a priority to help inform his patients of the benefits they can receive from a more healthy diet.

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