Okee-dokee! Here we are! The beginning of January 2011! We’re ready for a fresh start and a better life! We’re laser-beam focused on achieving and maintaining a healthy weight!
You’ll notice I don’t say “losing weight” – even though that’s what the vast majority of us need to do. There are a few reasons behind that choice of words. First, not everyone needs to lose weight, necessarily, at least not by the numbers. Some people do need to gain weight, and some people need to maintain their current weight, but to do it more healthfully.
Most importantly, though, I’ve found that people who focus solely on losing weight tend not to succeed, or they succeed temporarily before a backslide puts them back at Square One. Why? Because weight is just one piece of the overall health puzzle. If you lose weight without exercising, you miss out on that world of benefits. If you lose weight on a wacky fad diet, you deprive yourself of nutrients that are critical to living. If you care only about the number on the scale and not about the big picture of your life, then your narrow focus sets you up for disappointment. Thinking long-term and big-picture will get you closer to being healthy in a complete way. And that’s what we want, because that’s a forever thing, not a January 1 thing.
Okay, so … what is a “healthy weight?” Is it what you weighed in high school? Probably not. There’s no firm answer, in my opinion. If you find your BMI (check here: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/), then the number and category tell you, in a general sense, whether you’re “normal,” “overweight,” et cetera. The figures and categories are population-based, flawed, and not to be taken as gospel. See, the catch is, the BMI (body mass index) is purely a ratio of your height to your weight. It doesn’t take your gender into account, or your age, or your muscle mass. Let’s look, for instance, at Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints. I don’t guess anyone would call him fat, would they? He’s listed at 6 feet tall and 209 pounds. Calculate his BMI, and it’s 28.3. In the “overweight” category. Not far from the “obese” line, which is 30. Jeez Louise.
Now, don’t get all excited about this exception. The unreliability of the BMI doesn’t mean it’s not important. If you’re 6 feet tall and weigh 220 pounds, you know whether you’re carrying muscle or fat. Don’t fool yourself. You’re probably not Drew Brees. My point is not to give you a free pass to have a high BMI: my point is to help you see that no one measure – not the number on the scale, not your BMI – qualifies you as healthy or not healthy, fat or not fat. The picture is much, much bigger than that.
So what is a healthy weight? Well, you get to decide. It’s probably a weight that you can maintain without killing yourself or depriving yourself. Your eating is moderate and under control, you’re physically active, you’re comfortable in your clothes and in your skin. Your blood pressure, cholesterol, and other health indicators are normal and healthy. You’ve got plenty of energy. You’re proud of yourself. It’s not the weight you were in high school, but it’s where you belong, right now.