Why body composition matters far more than weight


Body weight and Body Mass Index (abbreviated as BMI – a calculation of weight in proportion to height), are poor indicators of how healthy you are.  Most people know of a muscular person who would be considered “obese” using the BMI and you may also know of people who technically fall within a healthy weight range, but who visibly carry extra weight around their belly.  When it comes to health risk, what you really need to know is this:

Even people who fall within a healthy weight range (according to their BMI) can be at high risk of diabetes and heart disease if they have a high proportion of body fat, especially if a lot of that fat is stored around their organs (called visceral fat).  Up until recently, skin calipers were the only way that members of the general public could get an estimate of their body fat.  However, there has recently been a huge boom in the availability of body composition scales, so knowing your percent body fat is now easier than ever.  There are limitations, however.

With skin calipers, a trained person measures the thickness of skin folds taken at various points on the body.  The reliability very much depends on the person doing the measuring.  You definitely want someone experienced in taking skin-fold measurements and you want the same person doing the measurements each time.

Body composition scales work by passing a very weak, harmless electrical current through your body and making assumptions and calculations as to your body composition based on this.  The process is called Bioelectrical Impedence Analysis and is highly influenced by your hydration status.  Exercising, eating a large meal, dehydration or menstruation will all influence the results you get with a body composition scale.  The best advice is to try and take the measurement at the same time of day, and to eat, drink and exercise a similar amount on those days to make the results comparable.  At-home body composition scales are often inaccurate, but the Tanita Body Composition Scale at Core is claimed to be within +/- 5% of measurements taken by Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA),  which is the most accurate way to measure body composition.

Core is happy to offer you both methods for having your body composition checked.  Rob Butler, our body composition coach/sports therapist, is very experienced at using skin calipers to calculate your percent body fat.  Sheri Taylor, Dietitian/Nutritionist is able to weigh you on our Tanita Body Composition Scales and explain the results to you.  Please contact our reception team at 01926 801 111 to make a booking with either of these professionals.


Conflicting nutrition advice – how to separate fact from fiction

By Sheri Taylor, Dietitian/Nutritionist

There is a wealth of free information available on the internet, so why would anyone pay to see a dietitian/nutritionist?  While some people love to scour the internet for hours and come up with their own DIY nutrition plan, other people would rather hire a professional to do the research for them so they get the results they want in the shortest time possible. It can be incredibly difficult to sort through page after page of conflicting information and know how to apply that information to your everyday life.  Should you eat coconut oil, butter or vegetable oil?  High carb or low carb?  Having a medical condition can make it even more difficult to know which information applies to you, and when.  If you are struggling with: excess weight, type 2 diabetes, Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis, or fibromyalgia, what you eat can have a huge affect on your symptoms.

Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a medical condition, if you are feeling anything less than 100% and you don’t know why, an objective review of the situation can sometimes highlight things you weren’t aware of.  As a dietitian/nutritionist, I can review your diet to see if it is contributing to the problem, ask your GP to do certain blood tests, and/or refer you to other health professionals if required.  You won’t just get a diet sheet and be sent on your way.  We will negotiate a bespoke meal plan based on your likes, dislikes and life circumstances (such as whether your job takes you on the road a lot).  You will leaving knowing exactly what you need to do when you get home, without feeling like you have to eat a bunch of stuff you don’t even like.

If you decide to have an assessment, you will be asked to write down what you eat and drink for a minimum of three days before your appointment.  This saves time during the consultation so that we can spend most of the time figuring out what the problem is and coming up with an action plan (including mix-and-match meal and snack ideas).  You will also be asked about your medical history and any medication you may be taking to make sure the advice is appropriate for your medical condition.  I may also ask about sleep, stress levels, physical activity, caffeine intake, alcohol, smoking, fluid intake and blood test results.  When it comes to health, so many variables are interconnected that it is important to be assessed holistically.  For example, did you know there is a link between depression and chronic inflammation?  Sometimes the solution to your problem can be something you hadn’t even considered.

Nutrition is a very complicated, ever-changing area.  Every website you go to may say something different, and every person you speak to has their own story of what has worked for them.  If you are feeling overwhelmed by conflicting advice, I can help you figure out which advice is most likely to give you the results you want.  To book an appointment, contact the reception staff at Core by calling: 01926 801 111.

By Sheri Taylor, Dietitian/Nutritionist

Do you ever feel like you know what you “should” be doing, but feel like you aren’t motivated enough to make it happen?  Habits and behaviours can be hard to change.  So whether you are trying to exercise more, lose a few pounds or do the rehab exercises for your dodgy knee, there is one simple “hack” that can actually make changing your behaviour a reality.

Make your goal RIDICULOUSLY small.  

I’m talking so small, that even on your worst day, when you are stressed out and haven’t slept and are coming down with the flu, you are still able to accomplish it.  Floss 1 tooth.  Drive past the gym on the way home from work.  Choose a snack-sized chocolate bar instead of a full-sized one.  You are allowed to EXCEED this goal whenever you want, but make the goal so small that it is impossible to fail.

You may be thinking, “Well what is the point of that?  Driving past the gym isn’t going to improve my health!”  That is true, but that isn’t the point of this activity.  The point is to make sure you succeed, because if you succeed, it will boost your confidence and you will want to keep going with a slightly bigger goal next week.  That effect tends to snowball until you are actually making the change that you want to make.

This technique was originally developed by Dr. BJ Fogg, from Stanford University, but I’ve used this method countless times (both personally and professionally), and know that it works.  As a general rule, people greatly overestimate what they are able to accomplish.  So if your first goal is going to the gym 3 times per week for 45 minutes, what are you going to do if you become ill, or have to work late or your car breaks down?  When people don’t succeed with their goal immediately, the temptation is to give up and to start telling themselves that they “can’t” do it.  This just stops them from trying again in the future.

If you are like me, going from doing nothing (eg. Sitting on the sofa), to doing something (eg. walking), is monumentally difficult. But once you are already in the habit of walking 5 minutes once per week, it doesn’t feel like nearly as much effort to start walking 6 minutes once per week….and then 10 minutes. Asking a friend or colleague to check in with you once per week to see if you’ve actually met your ridiculously small goal is also helpful.  Knowing that someone will be checking on you adds an extra incentive and keeps the goal in the forefront of your mind.

Here are Core Clinics, we are committed to helping you set and achieve your health and lifestyle goals.  We provide the most up-to-date and effective strategies to help you heal chronic pain, lose weight and start becoming more physically active.  To make an appointment, please contact our reception staff at 01926 801 111.

Do you have any other “hacks” that you’ve found helpful in boosting motivation?  Please share your experience in the comments below.


When you’re doing all of the right things but still can’t lose weight

By Sheri Taylor, Dietitian/Nutritionist, Core Clinics

I’ve been a dietitian/nutritionist for over 20 years and I have had countless people tell me they think it is impossible for them to lose weight.  Some people believe there is something wrong with them….like they are lazy or unmotivated.  Others feel like bariatric surgery is the only option because they have tried everything else and nothing has worked.  However, the real issue tends to be that no one has taken the time to look at the underlying reason why that person is struggling with their weight to begin with.  At Core Clinics, we don’t just treat the symptoms, we treat the underlying problem.  So…whether you’re struggling with your weight, chronic back pain or a dodgy knee, we will identify the underlying cause of the problem and help you treat it once and for all.   

There are 3 common healthy eating messages which often get misinterpreted and misunderstood by the public.  This information can actually end up contributing to people’s weight gain if they take the recommendation out of context.

  1. You must eat five servings of vegetables and fruit each day.

I’m certainly not disputing the health benefits of vegetable and fruit.  They are nutritional powerhouses and most people don’t eat enough of them.  The problem is that vegetables and fruit are meant to REPLACE some of the other foods in your diet (eg. eat more salad and less potatoes).  They aren’t meant to be in ADDITION to all of the foods you normally want to eat.  Choosing mostly fruit (over vegetables) and eating them to be “healthy,” not because you are actually hungry, is just adding extra calories that your body doesn’t need.  If your body isn’t physically hungry, your body doesn’t need food (even if it is healthy food).

  1. You must eat breakfast (and/or 3 meals per day)

The intention here is for people to spread their food intake throughout the day instead of eating nothing all day and then cramming a day’s worth of calories into a few hours in the evening.  Coming home from work ravenously hungry is a guaranteed way to end up craving sweet and starchy foods and eating way more food than what your body needs.   Breakfast is one way to encourage people to spread their food intake throughout the day.  However, if you aren’t physically hungry as soon as you get up, you need to be asking yourself why.  The answer usually relates to how much food you have eaten the evening before.  If you aren’t hungry 6-8 hours later, it usually means you ate too much before bed.  So, the solution is therefore to reduce the amount you are eating in the evening, not to force yourself to eat breakfast when you aren’t even hungry.  If you are having difficulty telling the difference between physical hunger and “wanting to eat” (also called emotional eating), make an appointment with the Dietitian/Nutritionist or Food Psychologist at Core Hatton to find out more.

  1. Wholemeal bread is healthy so you can eat as much as you want.

While wholemeal bread is a great source of fibre and has more nutrients than white bread, I’ve met a lot of people who struggle with their weight primarily because of their bread intake.  Two rounds of toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and two more rounds of toast before bed generally don’t fill people up for very long and tend to cause bigger cravings for starchy and sweet foods later in the day.  Bread isn’t “bad” and the goal isn’t necessarily to give up bread completely.  However, if you often feel hungry throughout the day, and if you often crave starchy and sweet foods, it may be worth looking at your bread intake.  In my experience, there are two situations which trigger people to eat a lot of bread.  The first is when people leave a loaf of bread sitting on the counter all day and they see it repeatedly throughout the day.  If you are constantly reminding yourself about bread, it will be one of the first foods that come to mind when you are hungry.  The second is when people have no plan for a meal.  Since most people have bread in the house, toast and sandwiches become the fall-back options when people are stressed out, in a hurry and don’t know what else to eat. 

All of us at Core Clinics are here to help you feel your best, both physically and mentally.   The Core team in Hatton now offers dietitian/nutritionist services on Tuesday afternoons.  Feel free to call if you have any questions or would like more information on the services available.