Sign Up for Our Bi-Weekly Email

Expand your perspective with thought-provoking insights, quotes, and videos hand-picked by our editors—along with the occasional update about the world of EnlightenNext.

Privacy statement

Your email address is kept confidential, and will never be published, sold or given away without your explicit consent. Thank you for joining our mailing list!


If Your Waist Is More than 34 Inches, You Could Find Yourself in the Morgue!

WIE presents Peter Ragnar on Health

Do you know your exact weight and how much of that is fat? Maybe you might take the position that an attractive, young, but fat woman took with me: She retorted, “I love myself exactly as I am!”

I shut up. Later, as I thought about it, I realized what a tragic justification it was. If she truly loved herself—that is, if she had deep respect for the life force within her body—she would do more to safeguard it. You must accept where you are before you can do anything about it. Denying the existence of a physical problem is in essence becoming blind to a solution.

When I hear someone say, “I love myself just as I am,” I realize that person is no longer able to grow—except in waist size, of course. Why doesn’t that person examine the justification and deeply consider these questions: What virtues and attributes do I have for justifying my claim? Do I really like what I see when I strip down before a full-length mirror? Now, in full honesty, wouldn’t I really, I mean really, rather be thin and fit? Well, then, what the hell am I waiting for?

This is the kind of self-talk that gets things done. However, once people realize they can’t wave a magic wand or swallow a magic pill to get the weight off, they will often revert back to a self-deceptive acceptance that it’s “just the way it is—it’s a genetic thing, you know.”

Well, actually it’s a mathematical thing. If you eat more calories than you need for your physical activity, they will be stored as fat. To lose fat and build muscle, you have to exercise and eat less. Pretty simple, right? Exercise uses fat for eighty percent of its fuel. Did you know that a reported 250,000 deaths per year are attributed in part to the lack of a regular workout program? One hundred thousand cases of cancer are related to obesity per year. If one hundred million people in this country are overweight, where does this put you? The ratio in the U.S. is that every two out of three people are in this category—fat!

That’s why I stated at the beginning of this discussion that if your waist size is more than thirty-four inches, you could find yourself in the morgue. When you have over forty-eight million adults who live a sedentary lifestyle and do not exercise, it’s no wonder that cardiovascular problems, cancer, and diabetes are on the rise.

decorationIf you do not get off the couch and exercise, your body weight will increase. It’s all simple math. If you fail to burn those extra calories and allow your waist size to swell—that is, if you are above your ideal body weight—your mortality rate increases by around twenty percent. That’s how I came up with the headline for this article. One researcher discovered that if your waist size was more than thirty-four inches, you were in the high-risk zone.

When measuring obesity by calculating body mass index, which is the ratio of lean body mass to fat, one problem that comes up is that very muscular people can be misdiagnosed as overweight because muscle is heavier than fat. So, here’s what you can do. Measure your waist at your navel, your hips, and the widest part of your buttocks.  Now divide your waist size by your girth (the largest number). If your number is 0.85 or below, you are generally at a very low risk of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. If it’s over that figure, you have some work to do. The good news is that now you have a target number to aim for. (Bear in mind that if you use inexpensive calipers for measuring, there can be a five percent margin of error.)

The experts tend to agree that the ideal body fat percentage for men is around fifteen percent, and for women, twenty percent. Personally, my fat percentage has ranged from six percent to fifteen percent, depending on my body weight. Exercise is the key to staying in the lower percentile.

In one Harvard study of 17,000 men, Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger and co-researchers found that men who burned only five hundred calories a week in exercise had the highest death rate. Those who burned a thousand calories a week had a twenty-two percent lower mortality rate, while those men who burned up to 3,500 calories a week working out had a whopping fifty-four percent lower death rate!

Now, what will it take to burn 3,500 calories a week in exercise? Five to ten hours a week of intense workout time. I personally work out seven days a week on a split-body-part routine with weights and do Qi Gong twice a day, coupled with intense meditation, like the exercises from my Art and Science of Physical Invincibility course. Static, isometric-like holding builds unbelievable internal strength. Having a fit, lean, and youthful body does wonders for your self-esteem. Having fit and youthful internal organs does wonders for your physical longevity. So, when might be the best time to begin your program?

Here’s another thing that might interest you. When you burn fat, the byproduct is ketone. Ketones curb appetite. Now, don’t start increasing your fat consumption—the American diet is already estimated to be around forty-five percent fat. The highly touted diet of longevity researcher and heart prevention specialist Nathan Pritikin calls for only ten percent of calories from fat and eighty percent from complex carbohydrates. I find this somewhat extreme, yet beneficial, especially if you are a heart patient. Since I eat copious amounts of organic nuts and seeds, my fat intake is much higher than what Pritikin advises. However, the additional protein stores provide for a positive nitrogen balance: that’s an anabolic condition where it’s easy to cut body fat and build muscle, providing you exercise on a regular basis. No matter how you cut it, it takes 3,500 calories to burn a pound of fat. By the inch, it’s a cinch; by the yard, it’s hard!

Meditation can help you lose weight! What? How is that possible, you say? I say this because meditation is stress medicine. Stress keeps you fat by causing your adrenal glands to produce cortisol. Cortisol will cause your brain to produce a chemical called neuropeptide Y. It is this release that causes you to crave carbohydrates, like that last fat-laden large order of fries that you scarfed down with the large soft drink. This is also where you get the joke about your local stress-eaten police officers’ fetish for donuts. Sadly, only around nine percent of Americans eat the recommended daily five servings of fruit and vegetables.

Naturally, I must be an oddball in recommending an all-raw, organic diet with a solid exercise program. But if you make a new commitment to yourself, I guarantee that the next time we meet in this column, you’ll be feeling much more comfortable in your skin! In fact, you might just glow like the sunlight you’re made from. Do we have a deal? And about your new slim waistline . . .  

Peter Ragnar is a natural life scientist, modern-day Taoist wizard, and self-master par excellence. A martial arts practitioner for over fifty years, he is renowned for his teachings on optimal health and longevity. He is the author of twenty books, including The Art and Science of Physical Invincibility.


Subscribe to What Is Enlightenment? magazine today and get 40% off the cover price.

Subscribe Give a gift Renew

This article is from
Our 15th Anniversary Issue


September–December 2006