Your perfect weight
We hear a lot about weight. Some people worry about gaining weight, other people have trouble keeping weight on. So, what is the perfect weight, how do you get to it (and stay at it), and why is it important?
Body Mass Index (BMI) is one number used to evaluate someone’s weight and health status. It looks at your weight and your height (because the taller you are, the more you’re likely going to weigh) and then categorizes people into: underweight, normal weight, overweight, Obese I, Obese II, and Obese III. People tend to think people who weigh more or have higher BMIs eat poorly and don’t exercise. However, when we think more broadly, we can see weight and BMI don’t really share the whole story. For example, since BMI is just taking looking at weight and height, it doesn’t consider body composition (i.e., how much muscle, fat, or water the person is carrying that is influencing their weight). In fact, there’s a lot more things besides diet and exercise that influence weight and BMI.
Factors influencing weight/BMI:
Therefore, these numbers don’t really explain someone’s whole health story. And we know we can’t reduce people to just one or two numbers anyway, because we’re much more than that! But is there a goal weight to be at for overall health?
Actually, there’s a range of weights that are healthy AND everyone’s range is different. This is one part of “set point theory,” which helps us understand weight and its changes. It tells us our bodies try really hard to stay within these pre-set ranges. So, for example, if someone tries to lose weight by eating less, their body’s metabolism will start to slow down to conserve energy and maintain its weight instead of losing it. This brings us to the next point, which is: eating less doesn’t mean you will get to your perfect weight or perfect picture of health.
How to Get to Your Healthy Weight
We have to eat the “right” amount for us, and our unique “set-point” weight ranges. How do we know what the right amount is? Conveniently, our bodies send out hormones telling us to eat when we need energy, and sends out other hormones telling us to stop eating when we’ve eaten enough. Sometimes we ignore feelings of hunger because we’re busy, or thinking about something else, or think we “shouldn’t” be hungry yet. That is, until we get reallllly hungry. At this point of super hunger, we’re way more likely to eat as much as we can, as fast as we can, making us uncomfortably full (aka ignore feelings of fullness until we’re reallllly full). This pattern can make us hangry and tired during hours of not eating, bloated and unhappy after overeating, and has been linked to weight gain and negative health outcomes in the long term. The way to get out of this pattern is to listen more closely for those natural hunger and fullness cues we may miss, and honor them by eating or stopping. Here’s a tip to get you started: try eating something at least every 3-5 hours depending on your schedule, and incorporate a variety of different food groups: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources to cover all your bases. Stay tuned for more articles to find out more, or schedule an appointment with the FAU Registered Dietitian.