It can be so hard trying to work out what our ideal weight should be. We know we want to change, but what goal should we aim for? Some of us want to look like Angelina Jolie, or the woman we see at the gym with fantastic abs and a waistline as small as our wrists. Most of us know that’s not realistic – but how do we know what our ideal healthy weight should be?
Well, the worst possible way to decide what weight you should be is to compare yourself to a celebrity, your best friend or any other person for that matter. We’re not those people, and nor can we ever be.
Step 1: Stop the Comparisons!
As Mish says:
“Comparing our physical selves with others is not just bad; it’s disastrous. There can never be a good outcome. There will always be someone who is slimmer, more athletic or more photoshopped.”
The next worst way is to decide by looking in the mirror. Why? Because our mood can fluctuate dramatically, and with it so does the way we feel when we look at ourselves.
Some days we think we look like Shrek after an all-night pizza frenzy, other days we feel so damn hot we could dance in Beyoncé’s video. How can we make any kind of judgement based on such wild swings of thinking?
And then there are those times we simply pluck a figure out of the air for how much we want to weigh, without regard to what the ideal number is for our height. “I want to weigh 50 kilos!” you declare, not realising that at 173cm tall you’d be underweight – and undernourished.
Discovering your ideal weight is not as black and white as numbers on a chart – it’s much more complex than that. There are several factors to consider, including gender, height, muscle-to-fat ratio and even where you tend to store fat.
Where to begin then? The best way to work out what a realistic weight goal should be is to measure your body mass index (BMI) with a BMI calculator. You’ll then need to check that your waist circumference is at a safe level using a good old-fashioned tape measure.
What’s So Great About BMI?
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a widely used tool that measures your body fat based on your weight and height. By taking these two measurements, it tells you whether you’re overweight, underweight or in a healthy weight range. And because it’s based on your height, it gives you a realistic goal to aim for. Trying to weigh the same as Angelina Jolie, for instance, simply wouldn’t work if you stand a full head and shoulders above her.
Calculate your BMI with our handy tool.
Measure Your Waist
BMI is a great tool (for most people), but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Measuring your waist circumference is far more accurate than BMI in indicating your risk for serious weight-related diseases.
Why is this? Well, when it comes to body fat, it’s not just about how much you have as where you have it. If you’re carrying too much fat around the abdomen – even if you’re otherwise slim – you’re in the danger zone.
That’s because carrying too much weight around your waist increases your risk of the following conditions:
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- heart disease
- some forms of cancer
Extra waistline fat can creep up on you before you know it, so it’s important to keep track of it. Here are the measurements you need to be aware of:
According to the National Health and Medical Research Council, a waist measurement of more than 80cm for women or 94cm for men is an indicator of increased risk of heart disease. A measurement of more than 88cm for women or 102cm for men puts you at a substantially increased risk.
How to Measure Your Waist
For this you’ll need to get hold of a measuring tape, and then follow these steps.
- Using the centre of your bellybutton as a reference point, position the tape around the middle of your waist.
- As you bring the tape measure around your waist to the front, make sure it’s in line with your belly button.
- Breathe out and let everything hang loose (without actually pushing your stomach out) to make sure you get a realistic reading.
- Now see what the measurement is on the tape.
It’s a good idea to take your waist measurement once a month, and at the same time of day – as soon as you’ve woken up, after you’ve used the loo. On 12WBT, Members weigh themselves every Wednesday and (depending on their program) take their waist measurement every four weeks.
Weight Loss the SMART Way
As mentioned above, comparing how you are now (and how you want to be) with how other people look has to stop! We’re all individuals, and we’re all built in different ways – we’re not cookie cut-outs of each other.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use others to help spur us on. It’s fine to be inspired by other people’s efforts, but that’s very different from wanting to look just like them. Use inspiration to help you work towards your goals – and to be the best version of yourself.
A good way to set weight loss and fitness goals is to use the SMART method – it’ll stop you expecting too much too quickly and will make sure you have effective, long-lasting results.
Here’s to Your Health
Reaching and maintaining a healthy body weight is about much more than how you look. Sure, we all want to look and feel fantastic, with all the benefits to our self-esteem that this brings. But more importantly, being in the correct weight range for our height is vital for our health and wellbeing, and to minimise our risk of serious diseases and conditions.
Even if you don’t end up looking like Angelina Jolie, doesn’t having great health make it all worthwhile?
I have read that the waist to height ratio is a better way of measuring risk to certain diseases than a waist measurement alone as it accounts for people being of different sizes? Perhaps this could also help guide people to find a suitable goal weight who, like me, are very tall, have a large frame and more of an up and down type body shape rather than an hour glass shape.
I naturally don’t have a very defined waist, even when I’m not overweight. Will that make a difference to how big my waist should be?
Hi Relle! As we can’t spot reduce in regards to weight loss (darn it!) you should find that when you lose weight you will eventually lose it from all over. One thing to consider though is that everyone has a different body shape. Some people will find it very difficult to have a tiny waist due to their body shape/type while others will find it easier. What’s most important is that you aim for overall health and fitness, as this will produce a fit and healthy body. If you are keen on working on your mid-section, you could add in some extra core exercises such as sit ups, planks, bicycle kicks, side planks, leg raises etc. – as these will all assist with toning around your mid-section.
Wishing you all the very best with your health and fitness goals!
12WBT Support Crew
12wbt is an excellent program and Michelle deserves all the credit and support she has provided for others at a time when foolish people criticize and don’t get her honesty and humour. Sparkle on Michelle, and keep doing what you do so well. Inspire, coach, challenge and provide thousands of people with well researched, we’ll presented nutrition, exercise and health strategies. Kind regards, Jen.