By Coach Meredith
It’s that time of year where the spotlight is on that beach bod. Some of you may have already started months ago working towards your new summer body goal, whereas some may be getting frustrated with where they’re currently at and want to make a change ASAP. When setting weight goals, it’s easy to pick a number that seems as low as possible, or at least lower than you are now, or to illogically choose a time in your personal history when your weight seemed just right. Maybe that was high school, pre-baby or just a few months ago.
Some may choose to go with a standardized number, like the “normal” range of your body mass index (BMI), or even compare yourself to some of the fitter people on your social media feed who seem to be around your height, age, and build.
The fact is: Choosing an ideal number for your weight isn’t easy. This is because age and gender play a role as well. Body weight does have a relation to optimal health and can be useful for preventing health risks that come along with being overweight or obese, however that number isn’t the “end all be all.”
Let’s talk a bit about the problem with using a BMI (Body Mass Index):
Although it’s common for physicians, insurance companies, some schools and even the Centers for Disease Control to use BMI for measurement, there are plenty of issues when it comes to using that for gauging weight.
First off, those with more muscle mass are automatically heavier and will be put into a higher BMI. So technically speaking if we are using the BMI scale, the fittest, most ripped person you know will be considered obese (For example: Rich Froning, Katrin Davidsdottir = obese). Even with those who are “normal weight,” the BMI doesn’t allow for insight into muscle versus fat.
Adding to the difficulty of using BMI, there have been several different formulas in the last 50 years for determining “ideal weight.” Even within the BMI, the range of recommended weight can be wide, four formulas in particular — Hamwi, Devine, Miller and Robinson — each come with their own set of criteria, and while the results may be similar, there are still variations.
For example, a 30-year-old woman who is 5-foot-4 would be considered within a healthy range if she weighed between 107–145 pounds. Using the most recent formula, the Robinson formula would put her ideal weight at 123. But a woman who has solid muscle mass may weigh more than the “ideal weight.” So does that mean she needs to risk losing that muscle just to reach a lower number? That seems ridiculous. The BMI gives a very imprecise estimate of a person’s activity level, which is recognized as contributing to successful aging and greater health.
What’s a better way to measure?
You can track body fat percentage, waist-to-hip ratio and other measurements, OR you could simply ditch the numbers altogether. Step away from the scale, set a goal, write it down and work toward it. When I say set a goal here, I mean set a more tangible goal like having your clothes fit better or be able to run a 5k within a certain time. Fitness related goals usually create the body composition changes you want without the reliance on weight.
Don’t get me wrong, the scale is a great tool to measure progress, but it is not the only one AND your weight needs to come into context with other aspects of your lifestyle—Nutrition, physical activity, sleep and stress ALL come into play here.
If you’d like a more accurate measure of your health, you can set up a time with Coach Meredith to get measurements.
By Coach Meredith
Spring has sprung and I hope you all have been able to get out and enjoy some outdoor activities. This week I’d like to give you a few tips for your wellness journey. Whether you’re just starting on weight loss, finding yourself in the middle of the struggle, or working on maintenance, here are some tips to keep you on track:
1. BEGIN NOW AND BEGIN SMALL
So you’ve gained some weight. Of course this isn’t ideal, however it isn’t the end of the world. You must keep moving forward. It all starts with you. Stop saying “tomorrow will be the day.” Once you start you are that much closer to your goal.
The toughest part is showing up. There are days I don’t want to work out, but I know how much better I will feel once I do. All I have to do is step foot in the gym (or if you’re a runner, maybe it’s on your favorite trail) and that right there is enough. I showed up, therefore I HAVE to do something or else it was a waste of my time and I know if I don’t I will still feel crappy. Once you get moving, the endorphins start flowing telling your body it’s happy to be moving, even if it’s just for a small amount of time.
This same philosophy can be applied to food and goal setting. Instead of focusing on the 50 pounds you want to lose, put your energy towards the five pounds you can realistically lose in a month.
The best part is, if you’ve fallen off the wagon completely, taking a few small steps typically results in changes pretty quickly.
2. DON’T TAKE A GUILT TRIP
It is very easy to feel ashamed, guilty, and embarrassed if you’ve gained or regained weight. Weight gain is natural throughout different periods of our lives. The important thing is that we must shift our focus from the past and set some goals or actions you can take to move forward.
Do not beat yourself up over having that ice cream last night, instead focus on what you will do tonight to change that negative habit. Is there a healthier option to satisfy that craving? Most likely. Having a piece of fruit for those sugar cravings is always a better option or something with a little protein like Greek yogurt or a handful of nuts will rid you of that nighttime hunger.
Make attainable goals and celebrate yourself when you’ve hit them. Reward yourself with non-food items such as a night out seeing that movie you’ve been wanting to see or maybe it’s a trip to the mall for the gadget you’ve been eyeing up.
Remember to strive for progress, not perfection.
3. SEEK HELP
Find someone to help hold you accountable. This could be your coach, wellness coach, registered dietitian, doctor or therapist. Depending on your situation, it can also help to sit down with a professional to discuss why you may have gained the weight in the first place and what steps you should be taking to make a change that sticks.
Coach Meredith is a Wellness Coach with a degree in Nutrition. She offers meal planning and nutrition assistance. If you have any questions please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
If you have preexisting medical conditions, are trying to lose more than 100 pounds or have a BMI of 40 or greater, we always recommend consulting a doctor first. This ensures you are embarking on the plan that is best for your health.
4. MEAL PLAN
It’s always helpful to plan out your meals and prep ahead of time. This helps to prevent you from falling back into old bad habits. Cooking at home saves time and money. Personally, I take 1-2 trips to the grocery store during the week, one is a big trip and the second is to pick up a few produce items that won’t last all week. I use my Sundays as meal prep days, washing, chopping, and cooking everything in big batches and dividing it up for the week. I try to incorporate as many veggies as possible into every meal (yes, even breakfast). If your schedule isn’t conducive to meal planning and getting groceries in advance, try a meal delivery service. There are plenty of services out there now that provide healthy meals when you’re too busy to think about it. Some examples are Paleo To Me (Which delivers right to The Bar!), Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, the list could go on and on.
5. FRIENDSHIPS ARE THE BEST SHIPS
Talk about it. Tell your family and friends you are working on your weight-loss goals. They may want to join you and even do a challenge together or join and exercise class. Your family and friends can also create an environment that’s more conducive to your goals by keeping junk food out of sight or by not bringing unhealthy food around in the first place. Sometimes it also just helps to have someone to vent to throughout the process.
Lastly, I want to mention -- do not let a number have power over you. As you exercise and strength train, you will be gaining lean muscle mass. Muscle weights more than fat. Period. The more lean muscle mass you have the easier it is for your body to burn calories. It may weigh more, but it is functioning more efficiently then it would if it were fat. Weight will always fluctuate. There are too many variables to remain 100% consistent every day.
The conclusion is-- Weight gain happens and weight loss is hard work. Don’t give up or feel defeated if you are struggling: You’ve got this and you are not alone.
I hope you all have a great week and a Happy, healthy Easter!