Well hello, 2018. A lot of us have been waiting for you to come round. A brand new year is the perfect excuse for a healthy reset and to try different ways of doing everyday things. Maybe you’ve even picked a theme for this year or set a few specific goals, like learning more about nutrition and eating a healthier diet or losing some extra holiday pounds–or all three!
Maintaining a healthy weight has LOTS of benefits, from preventing chronic diseases and ensuring more restful sleep to having more energy and happier joints. So if weight loss is in your future, we’re here to help–starting with figuring out your healthiest, happiest weight. Even a small amount of weight loss (between 5 and 10 percent of your current body weight) will help you prevent obesity-related diseases.
Just remember, we’re all built a little bit differently, so your ideal number may be higher or lower than your friend’s, even if you are both the same height. Your body type, bone density, muscle to fat ratio, and body fat distribution all play an important role. So keep the focus on you and kick the comparison game to the curb.
There are two main measurements:
1.) Body Mass Index (BMI) is your weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. BMI can be used as a screening tool, but alone is not an accurate assessment of a person’s overall health. Use this handy dandy BMI calculator to calculate yours.
Doctors have often turned to BMI because it’s easy to standardize. But keep in mind that BMI doesn’t factor in age, gender, race or body composition. For example, a person with a lot of muscle mass may be categorized as overweight or even obese, but still have a healthy body fat percentage and other “healthy” metabolic markers, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels.
If you have a lot of muscle mass and a relatively low body fat percentage, your “elevated” BMI may not necessarily mean that you need to lose weight. Also, things like excess abdominal fat can put you at a greater risk to develop type 2 diabetes and heart disease (e.g. a man with a waist of more than 40 inches and a non-pregnant woman with a waist of more than 35 inches). To correctly measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones. Take the measurement just after you breathe out.
2.) A waist-hip ratio (WHR) is the relationship between the circumference of your waist and that of your hips. Measure your waist, just above your belly button, and divide that number by the circumference of your hip at its widest part. For example, if a woman’s waist is 28 inches and her hips are 36 inches, her WHR is 28/36 = 0.77. Women with a WHR <0.8 and men with a WHR < 9 are generally healthier, more fertile and less likely to develop diabetes, most cancers and cardiovascular disorders. Here’s a quick breakdown of WHR linked to cardiovascular disease risk:
Less than 0.9 = low risk
0.9 to 0.99 = moderate risk
1 or over = high risk
Less than 0.8 = low risk
0.8 to 0.89 = moderate risk
0.9 or over = high risk
Studies have shown that people with apple-shaped bodies, who have more fat around their waist and larger WHRs, have higher health risks than people with pear-shaped bodies, who have more fat around their hips and lower WHRs. WHR is believed to be a much more accurate indicator of weight and health, compared to BMI.
For more information, check out these helpful links:
Weight charts for men and women (based on frame size)