Do you tell people what you weigh or what size you wear? In the dark of night, when you’re lying in bed and can’t sleep, do you admit to yourself what you weigh? Do you tell your family you don’t want clothes for your birthday because you don’t want to tell them what size to buy? Do the numbers haunt you? Do you wind up asking yourself, “How did I let this happen?” Are you embarrassed, ashamed, or frightened?
Let me set your mind at rest. What you weigh now is irrelevant. It means nothing. What is important, what really matters in terms of your self image, your health, and the rest of your life is what you are going to weigh in the future.
There are a number of ways to chart your weight loss progress, and differing methods to determine what your goal should be. But how do you decide what your goal is?
The answer to that question is different for everybody. You might decide to aim for a specific goal weight. You might not focus on a goal weight, but decide that you have a goal size, or a goal body fat percentage. It really doesn’t matter what your goal is. The important thing is to have a goal.
There Are Different Ways To Measure Your Progress
Choose A Goal Weight
Many of us decide that our goal weight should be what we weighed in high school, or on our wedding day, or at our thinnest. Some of us decide that we should weigh whatever a table or chart says we should weigh, or what our doctor decides we should weigh. Some (many!) of us don’t have a clue what we should weigh.
The American Heart Association’s web site has a page listing ideal body weights. Notice that there is no differentiation between males and females. This chart also does not take into account the additional muscle which many low carbers develop. Click here: Body Composition Tests (American Heart Association Charts). The American Heart Association charts are also at odds with other “optimal weight” calculations, such as the West Virginia Dietetic Association’s on line optimal weight calculators.
For example, the American Heart Association states that the optimal weight for a female 5′ 10 ” tall is 178 pounds or less, while the West Virginia Dietetic Association calculators come up with a figure of 150 pounds (plus or minus 10%). For a male who is 5 ‘ 10 ” tall, the American Heart Association again states that 178 pounds or less is an ideal weight, but the West Virginia Dietetic Association calculators come up with a figure of 166 pounds (plus or minus 10%).
So what should your ideal weight be? Darned if I know. I guess it all depends upon who you talk to. And, quite frankly, your guess is probably better than theirs.
Aim For A Particular Body Mass Index
Still another way to measure your progress is by your improving body mass index. And just what is your body mass index? Your body mass index is the ratio your height and weight, and is a good indicator of most (but not all) people’s percentage of body fat. In general, a body mass index of over 30 is considered obese; a body mass index of 25 to 30 is considered overweight; a body mass inde of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered healthy, and a body mass index of 18.4 or less is considered underweight.
In other words, we should be aiming for a body mass index of between 18.5 and 24.9, regardless of what we weigh. This way of measuring your progress is particularly suited to low carbers, since many of us gain muscle while we are losing fat.
Please be aware that as a low carbers you may very well have a leaner body mass than your height and weight indicate. While these on line calculators are relatively accurate in the middle and upper ranges of your weight loss journey, as you near your goal weight their calculations may be skewed by your additional muscle mass. At that point the best thing to do is to calculate your body mass index yourself with calipers or to have a professional do it.
Choosing A Goal Size
Others decide that they want to be a particular size. They want to get back into their wedding dress, or the jeans they were able to wear before they got pregnant that first time. It might be that you men want to be able to wear a swimming suit and not have your belly flop down over the suit. Women may just want to be comfortable in a swimming suit – any swimming suit!
Many low carbers use this method on their way down the scale, keeping a pair of jeans one size too small to try on every few weeks. When they fit comfortably into the new, smaller size of reference jeans, they buy another pair yet one size smaller as their new reference jeans. (***Note: If you don’t have smaller jeans already, consider buying your reference jeans at a Good Will or other used clothing shop. You aren’t going to be in them long, and the money you save can be squirreled away for some of the special things you’ll want when you reach your goal weight.)
What Would I Choose?
In the end, my ultimate goal is to have a body mass index on the lower end of that healthy 18.5 to 24.9 range. For the time being, though, I remind myself of my husband and his obsession with baseball statistics. (He can tell me who spit the most times in the 1949 World Series, for crying out loutd!) I use a combination of all three. I weigh daily and average my daily weights weekly. I recalculate my body mass index monthly, and I have my trusty Good Will reference jeans hanging in the closet. I’m covering all the bases.
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