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Ask a loser: What should my goal weight be?

Posted Jan 08 2009 2:51pm
I was wondering what weight chart did you use when determining what you should weigh? - Liz

Asking this question is like asking "How many guys do I have to sleep with before I'm a slut?" It depends. One person's answer is not necessarily going to be the same as another's. Just like your sluttiness, you goal weight is subjective.

I had been fat my entire adult life, so setting a goal weight was tricky. I didn't have a frame of reference for my ideal body weight. People who have been skinny before can refer to the weight they liked their body at best, whereas I was just making my best guess at what weight would be good for me. Plus, I couldn't exactly go up to people I thought looked good and say, "How much do you weigh?" (Not until I took a self-defense course first.)

Instead, I took a look at the BMI (body mass index) chart to determine the range of weight that was recommended for someone of my height. The body mass index is determined by dividing your weight by your height squared. The ideal BMI is between 18.5 and 25. There are many calculators onlinelike this one from the National Institutes of Healththat will do the tricky math stuff and metric conversions for you. The BMI is not perfect, so chill out before you write that comment that says Michael Jordan would be considered obese according to BMI. I consider the BMI to be a guideline, not a non-negotiable rule. One of the things I've learned in life is that almost everything's negotiable.

I set my goal for 160 because it was at the high end of the BMI charts and seemed attainable. However, as I approached my goal I continued to reassess my weight and determinedI was happier at 180. This was the weight I landed at when I was eating healthy 95% of the time and exercising regularly. Just as some people are naturally taller or darker skinned or better at foosball than others, some people are naturally a bit chubbier and skinnier than the "norms." It's quite possible that you can eat the same things and exercise as much as someone the same height and gender as you, and you'd weigh different amounts. Some bodies are just better at retaining fat than others. Them's the breaks. Blame your DNA.

I think it best to set an initial goal weight and reassess it as you get closer depending on your overall health and how you feel about your body. You might find you're very happy at your goal. Other people might find they ideally want to weigh less or more. What's most important is being in touch with your body and figuring out what's best for it.

I should also note, that while most people set a goal weight when starting a weight loss program, you can also set a goal dress size, goal measurements, or set a fitness goal like running a 5K. It's good to have non-scale victories because weight is not the best determiner of fat loss. If you gain muscle and lose fat, you might actually weigh more even though your body has become slimmer, yet more dense. Whatever goals you set, good luck achieving them!

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