When it comes to health and wellness goals, losing weight is usually at the top of the list. It’s common to think that reaching a healthy weight automatically means good health. And while it does play a role, it’s only one part of a much bigger picture.
At WellWay, we help you look beyond just the number on the scale. While we do help our clients optimize their body composition, it is just one of the many ways we support you on the path to achieving your best, healthiest self.
Here are some of the other important ways to gauge if your health is on track, and how you can start making easy improvements, today:
1. Your energy levels are stable
Energy plays a key role in your quality of life. It can affect our productivity, happiness, and overall daily fulfillment.
Do you get out of bed in the morning ready to take on the day without a big cup of coffee? Do your energy levels stay consistent throughout the day? Do you have a stable mood, for the most part?
If not, here are simple ways to boost energy:
- Stay hydrated – one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue is not being well hydrated! Try working your way up to ½ your ideal body weight in ounces of water each day
- Pair your carbs with a protein or fat to stabilize blood sugar – think adding a cheese stick along with your granola bar, or if you find yourself reaching for a sugary drink in the afternoon, grab a handful of nuts to blunt the blood sugar response
- Improve your sleep (see the next tip)
Still tired? Consider getting some labs done to test your blood sugar, thyroid, and Vitamin D levels. Vitamin D plays a big role in mood and is often overlooked when it comes to energy.
2. You get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep
Sleep is one of the most important ways for your organs to repair and reset themselves. It affects all aspects of life, including mental health, physical recovery from exercise, decreasing inflammation, producing hormones, and even keeping cravings at bay.
Yes, there are times when it’s not always possible to get enough sleep (having a newborn baby for example), but for the most part, there are practical ways to achieve the dream of seven to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep a night:
- Go to bed at the same time every night
- Cut out caffeine at noon
- Eat a dinner with more complex carbs (rice, potatoes, quinoa, brown rice noodles, etc.). Fact: blood sugar can play a big role in being able to stay asleep
If that’s not enough, try a supplement like extended-release melatonin to help you get to sleep and stay asleep. You can also try using a sleep tracking app to discover if you’re getting enough quality REM sleep, which plays as much of a role as how many hours you’re getting each night.
3. Your bowel movements are normal
We all know they’re important, but bowel movements are a very real indication of your overall health. So, what do healthy ones look like? Here’s an easy chart to reference, and we suggest you print one out to keep as a reminder.
Type 4 is considered optimal. Going too often or having diarrhea regularly can mean you’re not absorbing nutrients appropriately. Not going enough can mean that you are re-absorbing those toxins back in your system.
To get back to “normal,” try:
- Staying hydrated
- Eating cooked veggies instead of raw
- Temporarily tracking your food. Is there a connection between what you eat and your symptoms?
- Keep moving. Aim for 10,000 steps per day. If you’re low, add 100-200 steps every few days
If you’re still not having normal BMs, try lab testing like at-home stool testing kits, food sensitivity kits, or SIBO testing to determine the root cause of your GI problems.
4. Your skin is clear
Putting your best face forward is about more than “looking good.” Beyond causing insecurities, skin problems such as acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, etc. can be an indicator of something much deeper—poor gut health.
Talking to a dermatologist is important, but if you’re still struggling, try approaching your skin issues from the inside, out:
- Reduce inflammatory foods like fast food and sugar
- Stay hydrated
- Keep a food journal to identify potential triggers
- Get tested for food sensitivities and reduce your intake
- Take L-glutamine and Omega-3 Fatty Acids supplements or try bone broth
Skin is more than just skin deep and taking a full-body approach is important in achieving the outcomes you’re looking for.
5. Your seated to standing pulse increases by 10-25 beats
The nervous system plays a big factor in health. Both being overwhelmed with stress and underwhelmed (needing more stimulation) can be detrimental to your body.
An easy way to check in with your nervous system is to test your seated to standing pulse with an at-home heart rate monitor, pulse oximeter, or smart watch. Start by sitting down for a bit while taking a few relaxed breaths. Then stand up and watch for the change on your device.
The optimal increase from seated to standing is 10-25 beats per minute.
If your results are <10 beats per minute, you may need to prioritize self-care:
- Meditate daily
- Get a massage
- Practice deep breathing exercises
- Take more breaks during the day
- Augment your exercise routine by decreasing the amount, but increasing the intensity (Example: Do several, shorter sprint intervals rather than running at the same pace for longer)
If your results are >25 beats per minute you have the fun challenge of spicing things up:
- Try adding new, bold flavors to your meals (spicier foods, citrus etc.)
- Take short, cold showers to wake your body up
- Try a new workout or add in new movements
- Get out of your routine: Go on a vacation, try a new restaurant, or attend an event
- Add in a new, challenging cognitive task or puzzle each day
6. For the ladies—your periods aren’t killing you.
Ah, periods. They’re never exactly easy, but their level of difficulty is an important reflection of your hormonal balance and overall health.
The goal is a monthly cycle with consistent timing and only mild symptoms. If you have severe symptoms that require painkillers or disrupt your daily life, it could mean impaired detoxification and excess xenoestrogen exposure. An absent cycle during reproductive years can indicate a significant hormone imbalance, extreme stress, lack of adequate nutrients, or other conditions.
These methods can help improve symptoms:
- Include fiber in your diet. Constipation (see section #3) can cause estrogens to be reabsorbed back into your body, leading to hormonal imbalances
- Avoid highly processed foods, which increase blood sugar swings, leading to mood dysregulation
- Take magnesium on the days leading up to your cycle, which helps with nerve and muscle relaxation and can reduce cramps.
If you’re still experiencing severe symptoms, don’t stay silent. Periods and PMS that significantly impact your quality of life aren’t normal. Talk to a WellWay Wellness Advisor about what you’re experiencing, and learn about options for lab testing that can help you explore deficiencies or imbalances that could be causing your symptoms.
To recap, weight does play a part in wellness, but it’s just one of many ways to determine your health status. At WellWay, we consider and treat all the factors covered above and more to get you on the path to optimal health.