When people talk about finding their healthy weight, they often mention Body Mass Index or BMI — a measure of relative size based on body mass and height. Medical professionals may use this value as a marker to determine an individuals weight category or a specific weight range that they fall within.
While BMI can be very useful in determining a loose idea of average weight, there are many factors that it fails to take into account, and therefore it shouldn’t be used as the only indication of overall health. Many professional athletes are considered to be overweight based on their BMI since muscle weighs more than normal tissue or fat deposits. Women with larger than average busts also often find themselves on the wrong side of the BMI scale, even if their waist and hip measurements are well within the average for their height, because of the weight of their breasts. So how can you determine what body weight is healthy for you? And when is it time to stop worrying about your weight and accept that your curves are healthy?
The first thing you can do is stop focusing on how much you weigh and start focusing on how healthy you are instead. This means saying goodbye to fad diets and hello to regular exercise. It is better to be fit than thin, and consistent exercise will make you stronger and less vulnerable to viruses that pose threats to your immune system. Traditional exercise will also increase your muscle and bone strength, leaving you less susceptible to the risks of osteoporosis as you age, including the added benefit of making your body appear leaner, even if your weight doesn’t actually change when you step on the scale. In fact, why not throw your scale away and instead of measuring your weight, choose other variables to keep track of? Measure how many hours of exercise you fit in each week or how many of your five a day you eat. By focusing on healthy habits instead of your weight you will live a healthier overall lifestyle. This is particularly important for individuals that have experienced disordered eating or who are prone to obsessive thoughts who may find that looking at the numbers on the scale on a weekly basis is detrimental to their overall health and well-being.
Although we may ignore the rules now and again, we all know which foods are healthy and which are laden with saturated fats. We also know that we should aim to eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day, and that fruit makes a better snack than chocolate. A good way to assess how healthy your diet really is to write down everything you eat over the course of a week. Include everything in your food journal — all of those afternoon snacks and every quick pick-me-up from Starbucks. We often think we are eating healthier than we are because we forget to count our small snacks and treats. By writing down exactly what you eat, you will have a clear picture of how healthy your diet really is, and will be able to see where you need to make changes without worrying about your weight.
One of the many reasons that women strive so hard to reduce their weight, and to fit into those size zero jeans, is because the media presents the idea that all women are slim, and that women who do not fit this have failed. Not only is this not true, it is ridiculous! Look around you and you will see happy and healthy women that come in all shapes and sizes. Being strong and healthy are better markers to judge yourself rather than just your number on the scale. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be considering weight loss — many of us do have a few pounds to lose to reach our ideal size and shape, and there are changes we can make to our diet and lifestyle that will help us to reach our goals. However, weight loss isn’t the most important target. By reassessing your normal, moving your goalposts to something that is healthy and realistic for your body shape, and accepting yourself for who you are, you will find that you are both happier and healthier overall.
Article submitted and written by: Helen Ulu