Congratulations! You’ve finally reached the point where stepping onto the scale isn’t followed by deep depression and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. You are at your goal weight. Okay, maybe you don’t look exactly as you’d imagined. There’s still a rather nice bulge at the bottom of your belly. But, hey, who cares? The numbers are down, and that’s all that matters. You are in the clear heath-wise. Right? Wrong. A study conducted by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center reveals that waist size, not just weight, is closely linked to an elevated risk of heart disease.
Until recently, your body mass index (BMI) was the primary method of determining your health. If it fell into the right range of numbers, you were fine. Too high: lose weight. Too low: gain weight. The problem? The BMI’s scope was a little too narrow. Researchers found that even people within a normal weight range were at a higher risk for heart disease when their waist-to-hip ratio was disproportionate. A little bulge could mean a big problem. Men with waists more than 37 inches and women more than 32 had a greater chance of clogged arteries resulting from calcium and/or plaque buildup. What does this mean? That beer belly you developed in college and have lovingly nurtured since has got to go. But, how?
If you’re anything like me, your hand is now lying discreetly atop your, um, little bit of belly fat and you’re calculating the number of crunches you can do between dinner and bedtime. 100 tonight, 200 tomorrow and 300 the next. Within a week, you’ll be a crunch machine and in no time at all, you’ll have a glorious six pack . . . buried beneath an artery clogging bulge. Crunches aren’t the ticket. Yes, they’ll tighten your abs but they’ll do nothing for your belly fat. So, what can you do? First, eat right and exercise more. You’ll be surprised by how much a little change can help. If you really want to target the belly, the Mayo Clinic has a few suggestions. Ladies, click here to find out more. Men, try this article . And while the pages are loading, search for the measuring tape to see if you measure up.