January 17-23 is known as National Health Weight Week, while January 21st is National Women’s Healthy Weight Day. But what is a “healthy weight” and how can you determine and achieve yours?
To start, stop being a slave to an idealized number on the scale. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, you are better off establishing your healthy weight by looking at the ratio of your weight to your height. This ratio is called the body mass index (BMI).
In order to calculate your BMI, first divide your weight (in pounds) by your height (in inches). Next, divide your answer by your height (in inches). Last, multiply your answer by 703.
Too much math? Let the National, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute calculate your BMI for you, using their online calculator.
A healthy weight is generally correlated to a BMI below 25. Studies have shown that a BMI above 25 suggests greater risk of diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. A person with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight and anyone with a BMI of 30 or above is classified as obese. (Note: Muscle is denser than fat, so muscular or very athletic individuals may have a higher BMI without being overweight.)
If you have a BMI over 25, there are no magic pills, powders, or potions that will help you achieve an optimal weight. Instead, you will experience maximum benefit by following these simple guidelines:
1) Consume less calories than you burn. Excess calorie consumption causes the body to store unused energy as fat.
2) Reduce sugary, low nutrition foods, like products made with white flower and processed snack foods.
3) Increase your daily intake of low calorie, high nutrition foods, like fruit and vegetables.
4) Increase fiber consumption to assist in regular elimination and reduce the effect of sugars in your diet.
5) Increase your activity level. Take the stairs, walk at lunch, dance around the living room with your kids, get outside in the cold weather, and find activities, like a local 5k, that will give you a physical goal to work towards.
A healthy weight not only looks good, but also feels great. And, it reduces your risk of disease, meaning you will experience a greater quality of life for longer.
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