Building Your Dream Body

This information has been provided by Al Sears, MD and Doctor’s House Call. For more information or to sign up for a free subscription, visit


Health Alert 18

Today is the first in a series of letters designed to teach you what I know about transforming your body into a healthier and more attractive shape.

You probably have a certain image of yourself you would like to attain. You would like to transform your physique. Perhaps it’s a masculine chest and arms, perhaps shapely hips. If you’re like most of my patients, you would like a trimmer waist. It’s what gives men that V-taper we associate with manly health and vitality. And it gives women the ultimate in sexy figures, that hourglass shape.

We all know we look better when we have a lean waist but don’t let anyone tell you that leanness is an issue of vanity. Quite to the contrary, it is probably the biggest single predictor of good health I can assess in my patients.

And that’s exactly what I do. We measure the leanness of all new patients. It’s non-invasive, fast and inexpensive. The information is very valuable. I really don’t understand why physicians don’t do it. But you can do it yourself.

All science starts with measurement. If we want to be scientific about changing your body, we have to accurately measure what we are striving to change.

* What You Should Measure *

There are several ways you can measure your leanness. The best is by measuring your body composition. The easiest way to do this is with skin calipers. You can get them at exercise equipment stores or you can order them online at ( They come with simple instruction manuals. They really are quite easy to use.

Another method is to measure your waist and hip girths. Simply wrap a tape measure around your waist at your navel and record the number in inches. Next measure the circumference around your hips at their widest point.

Another even easier way is to grab your skin between your finger and thumb just to the side of your navel and measure the thickness of the skin fold.

* What You Should Do with Your Measurement *

Now that you have your measurement, you need to know what it means. Here is a general overview for each technique.

Body composition for men should be 10-20 % fat and for women 15-25% fat.

Waist girth should be less than your hip girth for both men and women. Even better is a waist girth 1 inch or more smaller than hips for men and 3 inches or more for women.

Lastly, when you pinch your skin beside your navel it should measure less than 1 inch in both men and women.

If you passed the test for leanness, congratulations! If you didn’t, record the measurements with today’s date and commit to changing it. With the right tools, it may be easier than you think.

Next time, we will talk about the second step toward building your dream body.

Al Sears, MD