There are several different points of view you can take when asking yourself “How much should I weigh?” It can be important to look at all of these and balance them in a way that works for you.
From Your Own Point of View
The most important perspective, of course, is your own. Try to think realistically, both short and long-term, about how much you should weigh. While I hope you won’t buy in to the belief that you should look like people on magazine covers, you’ll probably be most comfortable if you’re in the average range for your gender and age. If you’re not sure what that is, we discuss your BMI (Body Mass Index) in our article on How to Set Successful Weight Loss Goals.
- Am I comfortable with my level of physical activity?
- Do I have enough energy and stamina to meet the requirements of an average day?
- When I look in the mirror, am I okay (or better yet pleased) with what I see?
- Would I consider myself physically healthy?
- Do I get sick more or less often than the other people I know?
- Am I active and regularly doing enjoyable physical activities?
From Your Loved One’s Point of View
Losing weight only because your loved one wants you to can invite feelings of inadequacy, but their pleas to lose weight aren’t always about how you look. Remember that your loved one is sincerely concerned for your well-being. Whether we’re talking about a spouse, child or grandchild, they may “nag” you about your weight and/or health because they love you and want you around for a long time. Often, they want to get back to enjoying the activities with you that they used to be able to do. Some questions to consider:
- Do I have the energy to keep up with my children?
- Am I enjoying a healthy sex life with my partner?
- Can I expect my health to improve or deteriorate if I keep up my current habits? How will this effect my family?
From Your Employer’s Point of View
Although employers don’t (or shouldn’t) discriminate according to the appearance of a prospective hire, we know that some jobs do have a genuine requirement for physical fitness. If you want to be able to work in most police forces, or as a firefighter, there are normally weight or fitness requirements.
For military service, there are specific guidelines for how much you should weigh, depending on age, gender, and the service you wish to enter. For example, the Air Force requires a maximum body fat of 20% for males under 30 years of age, 24% for males >30, 28% for females <30, and 32% for females >30 at point of entry to their service. To see specific weight requirements for joining the Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Air Force or Navy, see the links from our “I need to lose 30 pounds” article.
From Your Doctor’s Point of View
Now here’s a point of view from which I can offer professional advice. As an American doctor, I’m bothered by the increasing obesity statistics in my country. It’s clear that the typical American diet and lifestyle are leading many to unnecessary ill health, terminating in early death. This isn’t just an American problem, by the way. I heard the other day that 2013 is likely to be the first year when deaths related to obesity worldwide outnumber deaths related to starvation.
As your doctor, I want you to experience excellent health and wellbeing for as long as possible. I know that simple changes in diet and habits can add up to a huge difference over time. For example, chosing to park 100 yards further from your office would add up to about an extra 28 miles walked per year. While this isn’t a huge amount in calories, it’s a good start. Even such light aerobic activity gets you breathing deeper, stretches your muscles, and reduces stress.
Add in a couple of flights of stairs, instead of taking an elevator, and you’re on the right track.
The habit of moving is very important. Try going for a walk during one-on-one meetings, when possible. Pace or walk when on the phone. Each hour spent in your chair without getting up puts your health at risk, so find an excuse to stretch and move frequently. Go get a glass of water – most of us don’t drink enough, and dehydration stresses the body. Any time your body is up and moving, instead of sitting still, you (at least) double the calories you burn.
Dietary choices are very important as well, and my office provides a lot of counseling on how to make healthy eating part of your lifestyle, without feeling deprived. There are also some excellent recipes on this website.
Be Aware of Signs of Health Risk
As for “How much should I weigh?”, as your doctor I’ll check out your BMI, and take into account the ratio of your belly to hips as well. Recent research has shown that significant belly fat is a strong indicator of health challenges to come. If you’re carrying a “spare tire” and your belly is large in relation to your hips (an “apple-shaped” body with excess fat primarily concentrated in the abdominal area), you are likely to be in more danger of adverse health issues than someone of the same weight who is more “pear-shaped”.
The apple-shaped body is associated with risk of diabetes and/or cardiovascular disease. While specific target waist circumference measurements vary by gender and even ethnic background, and the waist-to-hip ratio is important, a waist measurement larger than 35″ (88 cm) for women or 40″ (102 cm) for men could be a danger sign.
Optimum Personal Weight Is, Well, Personal
Of course, your whole medical history and pre-existing conditions have to be taken into account in deciding how much you should weigh, but in general most of us want to have a “normal” BMI. If you work out a lot and have significant muscle built up, a higher BMI will be normal for you. You’ll weigh more than “normal”, eat more calories than “normal”, and yet be perfectly healthy for someone with your physical profile. That’s why it’s so important to look at how much you “should” weigh from a wholistic perspective.
If you’re in Hawaii, sign up for a consultation and come in to see me. You’ll leave with a clear answer to “How much should I weigh?”, as well as effective strategies for getting there!