Brought to you by: Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa and Sutter Medical Foundation, North Bay
How do you know if you are at your ideal weight? Even better, how do you know if you're at a healthy weight?
First, identify where you are. How do feel when eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly? Do you know when you are really hungry and when you are full? Your body will settle into its most comfortable weight when these pieces are in place. Next, identify where you want to be. If you are not where you would like to be or within the ranges listed below, remember that as soon as you start making changes towards a healthier lifestyle your weight will adjust accordingly.
Your Body Mass Index, or BMI, is a calculation based on your height and weight. To determine your BMI, you will enter your current weight and height into a chart or BMI calculator. A healthy BMI is in the range of 19-24.9.
Keep in mind that your BMI is only one of many measurements to help you determine your healthy weight. If you find that you have a BMI that is outside the recommended range, your waist circumference can also be a helpful number to know. It has been found that extra weight carried in the form of belly fat can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. To measure your waist circumference, measure around your waist at your belly button. You could be at an increased risk for health problems if your waist is above 40” (men) and 35” (women).
If you have found that your numbers are within the recommended range, congratulations! Your focus will be to maintain your healthy lifestyle choices and to make sure you are eating foods that are providing you with good nutrients as well as the right amount of calories. If you found that your numbers are outside the recommended ranges, you now have important information that will support you in making healthier choices. The key to creating lasting change is to make the steps doable and simple to fit into your lifestyle.
Proper nutrition and physical activity are the two most important ways to decrease your weight. A few suggestions for improving your nutrition are, eating breakfast, making sure to eat 5-7 servings of fruits and/or vegetables a day, give up drinking soda, eat out once per month instead of every week, or cut your portions by 1/4. It is true that when you start eating healthier you will feel better and it will become easier to make healthy choices.
Activity is important because our bodies were meant to move. This means we need to add as much activity as we can to our lives. Try parking in the farthest spot possible, take the stairs, walk 20 minutes each morning, ride your bike to work, or use a pedometer and try to get in 10,000 steps a day.
The number one reason people fail at maintaining a healthy weight or weight loss is that they set goals that are too big. The best way to create and maintain a change in your daily life, is to take small steps. This may mean choosing one small goal that you will work on for a month. After a month, these small goals turn into habits. If not, the goal was too big or you may need some additional support for making the behavioral change.
Don’t forget to take advantage of education and support. Seek information on what it means to be healthy. Find people to support you as you set and achieve your goals. The small steps will eventually lead to big results.