Pursuing The Ideal Weight

The ideal weight. What is it, exactly?

I had to laugh once again seeing an “ideal” weight chart come up in my research. I couldn’t help but glance at the numbers and wonder what or who came up with them.

20180123_213602
I have a nice scale. I just rarely use it.

 

Not only that, I could pull up several different charts and be given different numbers to work with. IF I paid attention to any of that.

One thing those charts don’t recognize ( well a lot they don’t recognize) is your body and what you do or don’t do. They don’t address your nutrition or your body mass ( is it more muscle or fat? or a balance of both?)

If there is one thing I see that people begin to get fixed on as they lose weight is what they perceive as their “ideal” weight.

Sometimes it’s a weight they were back in school or when they got married. Maybe it’s a weight they felt good or most confident at. Nonetheless, they have an ideal weight goal they set before them to achieve.

That of itself isn’t bad. It’s good to have something to shoot for, something that keeps you focused and working towards your goals.

Often though what we see as our ideal weight might not be so ideal where we are now. Maybe you looked good at a certain weight in high school but 30 years later, it might be to thin for you. Perhaps a few more pounds on you might make you look better and be easier to maintain in the long run.

Sometimes people believe getting to that weight will make them happy. They will feel they have “arrived” and that there is nothing left to achieve. Perhaps they think at that weight their body will look the way they think it should look.

Whatever the reasons, it’s at the top of the list when people are striving to lose weight.

Back to those charts.

I’m amused at some of those suggested weights for me. It might not be apparent if you are reading my posts, or seeing my photos, but I’m 6’0 and solid. Those charts don’t take into account I’ve built a decent amount of muscle on my frame or my body structure. If I were to weigh in at some suggested weights I’d look…well… beyond lean. I’d look scrawny for sure.

One thing I’ve learned in the past few years is how my body can fluidly change depending on what I’m doing. In my heaviest part of my marathon training it was fairly effortless to stay on the super lean side. I was running 50-55 miles a week if not more. I certainly didn’t take in more calories than I was burning off. If anything long training tended to kill my appetite and not help it. I topped some of my lowest body weight and body fat numbers during that time.

However, when not heavy training my body tends to bounce back to what I think of as my “happy weight” or the weight that is most effortless for me to maintain. It’s also a reasonable healthy weight.

Yes, when I started on my weight loss journey a few years ago I had a distinct number in mind. I’ve since learned to allow fluctuations in that weight and that it’s ok.

 

goal weight

Was I happier at that weight goal? Well, on one hand yes, I’m goal oriented and love nailing my goals. On the other hand, nothing earth shattering happened reaching it. One thing I’ve found is once that goal is achieved the work isn’t done. You work to maintain and keep it there. And that can become a very mean task master if one is controlled by numbers. If those numbers moved up even a few pounds from there, it could ’cause you to feel unhappy or not satisfied. Or if you’re smart, you make adjustments you need to get the numbers closer to where you want them.

Numbers do kinda matter though

Ok I might be making fun of charts but it is good to understand, recognize, and know your body does have a “window” in regards to weight that you should know and should strive to maintain. A few pounds over it should be cause to make changes to keep you in your “window”.

Obesity is a major cause of many health related diseases and  is totally preventable. Obesity here in the states is at an all time high in adults and more disturbingly, children. Maintaining your weight in your healthy zone can prevent health related diseases.

If you are highly active or do activities to build muscle, that as well will cause numbers to fluctuate. My body structure is now more about a body fat percentage versus the standard BMI which doesn’t take into account an athletes muscle mass.

I have a weight that is what I consider my “in season” weight when I’m training longer and heavier and an “off season” weight when I can be 5-7 lbs “heavier”.

Both of those are “ideal” for me. I’m really not focused on a set of numbers anymore as much as I am my bodies ability to perform well, to be strong, and to be energetic.

I’ve also learned enough of myself that there is a place that is healthy and easily sustainable without me being rigid and constantly watchful of what I eat.

It’s a pretty free place to be.

Find your happy place.

If you have weight to lose, know what your “window” can be and work towards that. Allow that you might get within 5 lbs and be totally happy or see that you look good right there and don’t need to lose more.

If you’re highly active and engage in heavy sports, understand how your body works and the processes it can go through in and out of training and how those numbers may look on the scale.

Finally, once you know what that place is ( happy and healthy) it is easier to maintain it and enjoy life without obsessing over numbers.

Have you found your happy, healthy weight?

Advertisements

In Pursuit Of The Ideal Weight

ideal-body-weight

 

“I want to be the weight I was in high school!” says the middle aged woman… “I want to weigh what I did when I played football” declares a man

These are weight ideals that men and women have every day. When they begin to focus on a goal for weight loss for some reason, the weight they were in the past and they felt like they were “their best”, becomes the new and current focus, even if they haven’t seen this weight in decades.

Where as there’s nothing wrong with this, it could also just be an unrealistic goal based on where you are today in your life.

Perhaps there’s a sense that once that “ideal” weight is reached there will be a feeling that you’ve “arrived”. Or it could be an assumption if you got to that weight again you’ll be really happy. Maybe you view it as your body will finally be how you want it.

I guess the reasons could go on… however… it just might not be where you need to be… today.

Our bodies are beautifully designed to live in a perfect balance of a weight that is “good” for us. Yes, we can have times of our weight being lower but it might take a lot more work and attentiveness to our diet to just be able to maintain those numbers on the scale.

It certainly could be an unwanted burden to bear if you have to be constantly watchful of everything you eat to stay at that perceived “good” weight.

That perceived weight goal you have might not be where you need to be at today in your life.

You might have a different job or more activities to keep you moving. You might have health issues or be on meds that don’t allow you to move to that goal. You might not “look” healthy if the weight is a bit to low for you.

But let’s not over look the fact that our bodies often have a preset weight that they can stay at and you can easily maintain and it might not be your predetermined goal weight.

Let’s establish this:

First there are a lot of factors that can determine our “ideal” weight.  Your height, age, gender, frame size, muscle to fat ratio, and body fat distribution all play into your ideal weight.

You could be the same height as your friend and maybe trade off borrowing clothes, but I can guarantee your body composition will be very different.

There are several “tools” that doctors/health care professionals use to help determine an “ideal” weight. But again that is so subjective based on many things. Let’s take a look at a few ways supposed ideal weight could be determined.

One of the long time used meters is the BMI (body mass index)

Your BMI is calculated on your height and weight and a scale is used on what “normal” body weights are for the gender/age/ etc.

You can figure your own by looking it up on an online calculator. You can also do it as a math problem, but that makes my head hurt, so I prefer the handy online calculator to help with it. I already know mine, but maybe you need to figure yours out.

This can give a base line of “health”.

Standard numbers are less than 18.5 you are underweight, healthy weight 18.5-24.9, overweight 25-29.9, and obese 30 or higher.

This is a good tool but not a good indicator if a person is carrying a more “muscle to fat ratio” as their numbers can come in higher, although they are technically more fit and more lean muscle mass is definitely preferable to a higher fat ratio.

BMI is a surrogate measure of body fatness because it is a measure of excess weight rather than excess body fat.

BMI uses your weight in the formula but it doesn’t distinguish if it comes from an abundance of fat or lean muscle tissue. Athletes and body builders who carry a great amount of muscle  can come in with a higher BMI, which does not distinguish muscle mass carried.

Because BMI does not directly measure fat it can miscategorize people as healthy  who have a normal weight for their height when they are actually carrying to much fatty tissue.

You can see just using a BMI has negatives in both directions although it offers a guideline as a basic health screening.

Another more accurate tool is body fat percentage.

I learned a lot about this a few years ago. My doctor told me I fall more into the category now of figuring body fat than the standard BMI due to my lean muscle mass.  Many experts say that body fat percentage is the best way to go as it is the best way to gauge their fitness level because it’s the only measurement that includes the bodies true composition.

Using the body fat percentage would not make the couch potato seem more fit than an Olympic athlete as the case with just using BMI.

There are several ways of determining body fat percentage and although none are 100% accurate it will give you a close enough estimate.

Examples include near-infrared interactance, dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, and bioelectrical impedance analysis.

I’ll give you one other example.. that should be enough to over load your mind for today …

Waist to hip ratio

A waist-hip measurement is the ratio of the circumference of your waist to that of your hips. You measure the smallest circumference of your waist, usually just above your belly button, and divide that total by the circumference of your hip at its widest part.

Less than 0.9 for men and 0.8 for women is considered low risk for cardio problems

0.9-0.99 for men and 0.8-0.89 for women moderate risk of cardio problems

1 or over for men  and 0.9 or over for women is considered high risk

The WHR of a person is commonly said to be a much better indicator of whether their body weight is ideal and what their risks of developing serious health conditions are, compared to BMI.

The biggest problem with WHR is that it’s just not a good indicator of overall health, it doesn’t accurately measure the persons total body fat percentage, or their muscle to fat ratio. It is a better predictor of ideal weight and health risks than BMI.

So… your ideal weight…does it exist?

Your “ideal” weight is as unique as your daily dietary needs are for health and wellness.

A few things to consider about it…

Know roughly what your body weight range should be. If you are outside of that or know you are carrying extra weight ( and we all know when we have extra fat on us), a sensible plan will help you steadily knock of those pounds to get to a more normal healthy range. The ideal weight charts sometimes can give you a close estimate and some are ridiculous ( as in one that told me I should weigh between 108-112. Yeah, I laughed over that. At 6’0 those are ridiculous numbers) I do know what my “range” is, but for me that’s pretty loose because again, it doesn’t take in my lean muscle mass, my activity level, or any other unique aspects of my physical person.

Your ideal weight won’t necessarily be your high school weight or whatever other magic number you have in mind.

Once you are in a healthy weight zone, allow for a 5 lb. limit to swing back and forth in. Trust me. It’s freeing. Ladies, this is especially important depending on where you are in your cycle. I know that a few extra pounds that might show up mid cycle will go away as some water weight. If it’s water, things will balance out again.

Depending on your level of physical activity ( and I mean workouts most days of the week or specific weight training) you will build lean muscle mass. This level of body fat you have to lean muscle mass is your body composition. The more lean muscle you build, the better. Muscle isn’t “heavier” than 1 lb of fat, it’s just that fat takes up more volume or space then muscle. Muscle is more dense.  Understanding this, if you are doing very purposeful exercise all the time you can gain lean muscle but the scale might not change a lot on you.

Your ideal weight will become easy enough to maintain based on your daily food intake and purposeful exercise.

If you have to go hungry, restrict meals, workout more than usual, or do any other crazy thing to stay at a given weight, that’s your wake up call. Your body isn’t going to stay there unless you are constantly diligent and practicing those methods to keep it there.

Your ideal weight will allow you to do the things you love, to take care of your family, pursue active endeavors, or take on your daily purposeful exercise with lots of energy.

It’s great to have an ideal weight in mind, but having a happy healthy weight that’s sustainable for your life is even better.

Do you or have you strived towards an ideal weight? Have you found a place of balance with a happy healthy weight?