Sunday, May 13, 2012
Deciding How Much Weight to Lose
Deciding How Much Weight to Lose
Think about a time when you were at a comfortable weight. Now, think about how much you weigh right now. The difference between the two is probably the number of pounds you’re aiming to lose. That’s probably your long-term goal (which means you don’t expect it to happen tomorrow, this week, or even this month, but you do expect it to happen eventually). Of course, you can rely on much more scientific ways to determine how much weight you can or need to lose. In fact, government health experts have established standards for healthy weights that you can use to gauge your own weight.

Check with your doctor before you start any weight-loss program to be sure that your weight-loss goals and strategies are appropriate for your age and state of health.

In this book, you can find six easy steps to help you figure out how much weight you need to lose, whether or not your weight is putting you at risk for serious health problems, and how to calculate a safe and effective calorie range within which you can lose excess weight. You can find more info on the first three steps in Chapter 2 and the last three steps in Chapter 3.

1. Consult the healthy weight range chart in Chapter 2 to figure out how far you are from a healthy weight for your height.
Using charts and formulas for figuring out how much weight you need to lose, or how much you need to weigh after you lose the weight, helps keep your expectations within realistic limits. Your healthiest weight isn’t necessarily the same as someone else’s, even if that person is the same height. You may be built differently. That’s why, when you look at a healthy weight range chart, you can see a range of acceptable weights for each height listed.

2. Figure out your Body Mass Index (BMI) from the chart and formula.
This step helps you figure out whether or not your weight puts you at risk of developing or worsening chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

3. Determine your waist-to-hip ratio.
This ratio tells you if the way your weight is distributed on your body puts you at higher risk of developing chronic medical conditions.

4. Figure out your basic calorie needs.
Knowing this information can help you figure out the minimum number of calories you need in your diet every day.

5. Calculate the number of calories you can eat and still lose weight.
This information is vital because it tells you the maximum number of calories you can allow in your diet every day.

6. Give yourself a range of calories within which you can eat and still lose weight.
If you know this information, you can try to stick to the bottom of the calorie range and on days when you feel you need to eat more food, you can go as high as the top of the calorie range.

If you’ve overweight, blame your fat When you’re overweight, you’re also overfat.
Otherwise, being overweight would mean that your excess weight is coming from muscles, bones, skin, and water. That’s not likely unless you’ve built up so much muscle from strength training that you’ve gained weight from it, or you’re retaining fluids for some reason, or you have impossibly dense bones that are adding to your normal weight. At most, you may be a few pounds over your usual weight if your extra weight is muscle from working out or water retention from hormone fluctuations. But neither of these are weight concerns.
Being overweight from extra fat, however, means that losing weight will probably be beneficial to your health. If you have a family history of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, or certain types of cancer, losing weight by cutting calories and getting more exercise can lower your risk of developing these conditions. If you already have these conditions, losing weight may improve them.
(You can find more information about weight-related medical conditions in Chapter 16.)

Many dieters aim for an unrealistic weight. If you have a tendency to compare your weight and shape to other people, you may find yourself wanting to lose more weight than is reasonable. Don’t compare your size and shape to others. The combined effect of your age, rate of metabolism, body type, genetic predispositions, exercise habits, dieting habits, and the number of fat cells you carry in your body ultimately determine how much weight you can lose and what your body will look like at any weight. That package of factors belongs to you and nobody else and that’s what makes everyone’s body different. You can’t stretch yourself any taller, change your bone structure, or borrow someone else’s genes. Be realistic in your expectations and goal setting and spend your time planning to get into your own best possible shape.

If you’re a control freak, you’re not going to like the fact that even though you can control the amount of food you eat, and the amount of exercise you do, and even the way your mind works when it comes to losing weight, you may not have as much control as you want over how much you actually weigh. You can make every effort in the world to get down below, say, 120 pounds, but nothing short of starvation will get you there or keep your there if it’s not a reasonable weight for you.
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