The foods you put into your body tell you a story. The wrong foods tell you the story of excess body fat, discomfort, mental anguish, and ultimately, disease.
Put the right foods into your body and you'll soon be told a better story -- a better story that turns into a good story, a good story that becomes a great story.
If you don't like the current story, then something is wrong with your diet. Training can certainly make your story better, but make no mistake: whether your story has a happy ending or a sad ending is determined by your diet. And you determine your diet.
Are you hearing the story your body is telling you? If not -- or if you hear it but can't seem to follow the plot -- then take out the tape measure and wrap it around the fattest part of your belly area. Now do it again a couple of inches below that measurement, then a couple of inches above it.
Those three measurements, for the average male, will make his story clear and easy to follow.
If the largest belly measurement is 40 inches or more, your story is going to be a short one, and tragic. The closer you get to 40 inches the sadder the story will become. Think medications, disability, and social invisibility. Health begins to deteriorate at about 37 inches, and even a waist size of 34 to 36 inches doubles the risk of diabetes.
If you're creeping over 37 inches, please don't tell yourself that it's just because of your massive core musculature. The story your body tells you is true. Don't try to turn it into fiction.
The bathroom scale tells a convoluted story, full of twists and misdirection. The mirror tells a true story, but our eyes and our minds sometimes skip important chapters.
The tape measure tells the real story, whether you want to hear it or not. Listen to those three numbers closely. Are they moving up or down?
Finally, remember that you are ultimately the author of your story. You write it with the foods you choose and the life you lead.
What's your story? Get a tape measure, and listen.
Interesting idea. How does this apply to someone with a larger frame? having a 35 inch waist at hip bone level and a 36 inch belly at the thickest part of my gut and 35 inch at the base of my ribcage. So I'm curious if these numbers are absolute or dependent on other variables, if so what?
I'm sure there are some genetic/frame variations here. This is basically just a rule of thumb, but it is based on several studies of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, etc. (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Harvard Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, etc.)
I think that those with naturally large frames can blend these rules of thumb with the ol' eyeball test: i.e. look in the mirror. If you have some visible abs and no signs of fat accumulation underneath the abs -- subabdominal adiposity causing that swollen, pregnant male look -- then you're probably safe.
Here are two more blogs related to this topic for more info:
These aren't pants sizes really. With the most unhealthy types of fat accumulation - subabdominal or central -- the fat is well above where your pants sit. Plenty of size 32 dudes out there with 38 inch bellies.
Also, someone asked me on my Twitter account, why 3 measuring sites? Good question.
You know how some people have a "two-pack" while others have a six? That's true with most people because of how fat stores on the body. When leaning down, you may first get a two-pack (upper abs) then work your way down to a six-pack as you continue to drop body fat. By measuring 3 areas, you get a sense of this. That way you won't get disappointed if the fattest part doesn't change much -- the upper measurement, an inch or three above, may show quite a bit of fat loss.
This is why on the V-Diet I have you measuring so many places -- to account for the fat loss in all areas of the body, not just the trouble spots which, annoyingly, tend to go last.
How much do these numbers based on a persons height? Obviously someone at 5'4" with a 40 inch waist will look round but take a guy that is 6'4" and with the same waist and he looks very different.
Genetics and body structure would play a role, sure, but I think a person would know whether he's fat and bloated vs. Andre the Giant.
"Oh, I'm just really tall." Hmm, trying explaining that to Mr. Diabetes.
So, tape measure + mirror/photos for the true genetic outliers.
Chris, what guidelines would you say for women (other than 35 inches + is too big)?
I have to admit, I am rather obsessed with having a small waist. I have narrow hips and want more of an hourglass shape. My goal was always to have a 24 inch wait, but I never got there in my (adult) life. Where'd I get that number from? Well, as Sir Mix-a-lot said "36-24-36? Only if she's 5'3" - well 5'3" is ME! haha, I digress...
So, I'm not sure how realistic my goal is. My lowest adult waist measurement was about 25 inches (or 25.5). I'm usually around 26 in. When I get up to 27, I say unacceptable.