The waist-to-height ratio is a good goal that encompasses health, body composition, and longevity.
- Less abdominal fat means lesser probability of lifestyle diseases like obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases etc
- Your body composition is good enough, presumably. Pull-ups and pushups and other bodyweight work become accessible, and this snowballs as your strength work quality improves. More strength = better body composition.
It definitely need not be the only thing we measure for those all 3. All am arguing for is that this be the top of your list, or at least near there. The WHR of 0.5 is a keystone species, if that makes sense at all.
Does that mean we should not look at weight?
Does it mean the ratio should be a constant? How low should it go?
How do we wave this up and down but not allow huge swings in our health or fitness levels?
How do we find the balance between drinking with our friends daily vs weekly vs "nopes, am not drinking".
Think of a line going from left to right. On the far right is "Nope, am not drinking any alcohol/chocolates". On the far left is "Drinking/Chocolating daily". We need to locate ourselves on this line somewhere. Since no elite athletes are reading my blog yet, I can safely say that there's very few weeks in a year when we need to be on the far right, except for health reasons. But because we are adults who care about our health, we need to be kinda sorta on the right side.
Here's my approach
I follow some simple habits
- eating vegetables
- training regularly
- sleeping 7+ hours
- drinking enough water.
The line is actually a bit slippery. It is easy to find ourselves a lot more on the left than we thought. That's how the waving up and down starts. It is a fractal, if you think about it. You are perfect one day, and terrible the next. By correcting each day, we start to correct each week. This allows for a lot more laxity.
If am trying to eat 3 portions of vegetables a day, I have a lot of days that are 2s. I try never to have 0s and 1s. My base habit is rather high, and I often eat more than 4 portions. But if I tried to keep hitting 3s daily, it gets tiresome and restrictive.
For me, the bigger issue is always the line between 1 square of dark chocolate to 3 triangles of Toblerone to 10 baked rasagullas. So, here I do practice deprivation i.e. no sugar for a few weeks of scattered around the year. I do work on getting more 0s (1 square of dark chocolate daily) during my week as well.
So, it essentially comes down to how many times a week can I have my cake and eat it too, and still maintain a reasonable goal?
My height is 165cms. That means my waist needs to be under 82cms. I have been there for 10 years.
So, 80 is the ABSOLUTE high watermark. What's low - well, wherever it ends up at the end of an D9 FLC is fine. Replace that with any sensible diet you go on - it has to have a start date and end date. I am well under 0.5, and so I never really need to focus on fat loss. I use the FLC as a reset, to re-affirm the fundamentals, and it always teaches me a lesson, correct the extra laxity that has snuck in sometimes.
That number is generally between 70-72 cms.
I try to hover between 72 and 76 for much of the year, and whenever the average is closer to 76 than 72, it generally is time to clean up my act. I have learned not to worry too much about how low it gets. The process of focusing and cleaning up is a bigger lesson, and I find that my training and sleep improve and the upward cycle starts.
I break up the time into week or 2-week blocks. Is the measuring tape looking fine? Well, keep on doing whatever I am doing. Waist size going up? Hmm, let's DO LESS OF something, or DO MORE OF something. Check again in a week. Repeat. When it repeats too much or gets to 76 - tighten up more.
So, how many chocolates can I have each week? Am I eating enough vegetables? Getting enough sleep? How often can I go drinking with my friends?
I use these numbers - the 80 cm mark, the 72-76 cm mark, and keep an eye on my strength levels. And wave it up and down gently.
I enjoy cake.