At One Time Or Another You May Have Wondered, "How Much Should I Weigh?" But Does The Notion Of An Ideal Weight Even Exist?
You're reading this because you're making every effort to lose weight. To shift a few of the extra pounds you've gained in recent years. "...but how much should I weigh?" "What's my ideal weight for my age and height?" These are the questions rattling around in your head. Some say to use Body Mass Index (BMI). Others, believe it's worthless, and you might as well pluck a number from your ass.
But who's right?
The journey to losing weight already feels a task of epic proportions, with more challenges-obstacles-barriers-and-battles than Frodo's meander across Middle-Earth. Quite frankly, you could do without step one being such a mind-fuck, right?
And that's where this article comes in. Because you're about to discover the truth about your ideal weight. "How much should I Weigh?" will be a question you'll never ask again.
So stick with me for the next 10 minutes and this is what you'll discover:
- Why living in the extremes is never a good idea. And why aiming for a more ideal weight is a positive step forward.
- The reasons why, giving your ideal weight the middle-finger, might be the best thing you ever do.
- How to use weight milestones on your way to your ideal weight.
- Why you might be better aiming for ideal health, not an ideal weight.
- The importance of realising your ideal weight is not a number.
If that sounds like it could be the answer to all your questions, then scroll on and let us burn fat, faster than the fires of Mordor.
Living In The Extremes Is Not Where You Want To Be
Just like Dominic Torreto was drawn to fast cars and adrenaline rushes, living in the extremes sounds cool. But when it comes to your weight, it's a little less fun. In fact, push it far enough, and it's hazardous to your health.
If you're overweight, you risk being affected by a plethora of illnesses and diseases. Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, to name just two. But being underweight carries just as much cause for concern, and shouldn't be ignored. Low bone density, low immunity, and infertility are all conditions you certainly don't want to be flirting with.
And the impact of weight extends far beyond the physical.
Your tendency to focus on a specific goal weight, might cause unwanted mental health concerns to start bubbling under the surface. Without you even realising.
Obsessions of an ideal weight, the pursuit of dietary and physical perfection, food anxiety, and excessive restriction are all warning signs of disordered eating behaviour. So, it's important to cultivate a balanced view of your weight-health-and-body-image from the outset. Because, living in extremes, might cause you more harm than good.
With that said, let me ask YOU a question.
What's your definition of an ideal weight?
What's The Definition Of An Ideal Weight?
In a world of free speech, everyone's got an opinion. But not everyone's got the right opinion. And while someone might give you their seemingly well-constructed thesis on your ideal weight, it really comes down to one thing.
Your definition of your ideal weight is what truly matters.
For some, an ideal weight is characterised by a set of washboard abs. For others, it's having almost no body fat and skin so paper-thin, you can see their organs like a new-born fish. And for you, it might be something completely different.
You see, weight is highly individual. Circumstances, context, and goals are so varied, pinpointing your ideal weight using a pre-defined calculation, is rarely going to hit the mark.
Ask me what my definition of the ideal weight is, this would be my response.
Your ideal weight is one where you are free from (or at limited risk of) weight-related disease and illness. And your aesthetic and body image goals have been met, without negatively impacting your mental health.
So when you next ponder the question, "How much should I weigh?" think about what your definition of an ideal weight truly is. Because plucking a number out of thin air is probably going to cause some issues down the road.
Give Your Ideal Weight The Middle Finger
You might have an ideal weight in mind already.
Maybe you went with BMI?
Maybe you picked a nice sounding number?
Or maybe you cast your mind back to when you were 17 and just picked that weight? After all, you don't remember ever having issues with weight or feeling depressed back then. But then again, you didn't have a career, family, and mortgage either. But that's a whole other story.
Whatever the method of choosing your ideal weight, in my experience, it rarely ends up being the right one.
So here's the thing. I want you to give your current idea of an ideal weight the middle-finger. The big fuck you. Sayonara, au revoir, auf wiedersehen, zai jian. Because you're about to get a whole new sense of clarity and perspective.
First, let's start by breaking down why BMI is about as pointless as the inclusion of Jar Jar Binks into the Star Wars franchise.
BMI is a simplistic measure of body weight (kg) ÷ height (m2).
This gives you a relationship between how tall you are and how much you weigh. But why does it get such a bad rap when it comes to figuring out your ideal weight?
The most glaring issue is that it fails to take into consideration the individual, ie you. There's no consideration of body composition, ie how much body fat you have versus lean muscle, which makes a huge difference to health.
For example, here's two pictures of me, 9 months apart.
In this picture, I'm 73.5kg, looking pretty skinny and without much muscle. Sad times. But on the plus side, I had a BMI of 22.4, a certified 'healthy weight'.
Roll on 9 months and I'd transformed to 86kg. But despite looking leaner, healthier, and stronger, my BMI was now 26.2, putting me in the category of 'overweight'.
While BMI is a reasonable measure for studying large populations and providing broad advice, you really need something more specific for assessing your ideal weight.
Other Ways To Asses Your Ideal Weight
Most other common methods of assessing your ideal weight aren't much better than BMI.
Picking your weight from 15 years ago, or taking advice from Julie in the office, does not constitute a considered approach. In fact, you're better off heading to the circus, crossing a fortune-teller's palm with silver, and seeing what her crystal ball's got for you.
In my opinion, your focus should be on overall improvement in health, which may or may not include a reduction in weight and body fat. Once you make this, the core of your journey to a leaner, healthier life, your ideal weight takes care of itself.
Who cares if you're healthy and happy at 83kg, 80kg, 90kg, or 73.5kg? As long as you are both healthy and happy then that's your ideal weight.
So is the issue less about the number itself and more about the entire concept of an ideal weight? Truth is, there might be a better way to flip this situation on its head. Allow me to explain.
Is Your Goal An Ideal Weight Or Ideal Health?
Losing weight is the goal for people, just like you, the world over. In order to achieve an 'optimal' state of health, weight loss is often the first port of call. So scale-weight targets have become almost engrained in our culture.
The primary marker of health, from which all progress shall be judged. Fail to budge the scale in a southerly direction, well that must mean, something's not right.
But look at it this way.
Do you want to lose weight or do you want to lose fat?
Because if you only want to drop weight and see a specific number on the scale, it's not that hard. You could just do a weight cut like a UFC fighter. Ram carbs through the floor, drop a shit ton of water weight, throw in a few hot baths, reduce sodium, go low fibre for a few days, and I guarantee you'll lose weight. Granted, your body composition won't have changed that much, and you'll feel like shit, but at least you'll be 7kg lighter. That is until you have a drink of water, eat some food, and allow your body and life to return to normality.
So if it's not about weight, why are you focusing all your attention on it? I guess, it's because that's the way we've been programmed to think.
Weight Watchers, Slimming World, and other diet companies hold the weekly weigh in up on a pedestal. It's the be all and end all of progress.
But now's your opportunity to break the cycle, unplug from the Matrix and focus on what really will make a difference to your life.
Practical Markers Of Health
So if an ideal weight isn't the answer, what should you focus on? Good question. And to answer it, I've listed 7 markers of health you can track to judge your progress objectively.
First up, weight.
"Hang on Simon. You've just been bleating on about there being no ideal weight."
I know. I know. It's starting to seem like I'm talking in riddles, but hear me out.
You see, while weight isn't everything, it's still a good measure of progress when used the right way, ie with other markers of health (like the ones in this list).
But just remember to interpret those numbers correctly. Wild fluctuations on a day-to-day basis are typically related to water weight. So don't get carried away with the ups, nor depressed by the lows.
TOP TIP = Deciding on the frequency with which you weigh yourself is very individual. Daily weigh ins can be beneficial. But, if your mood and mental health is negatively affected by the process, it might not be the way to go.
For now, let's assume weighing yourself is no bother. In that case, weigh yourself every morning (after doing your business, but before eating and drinking). Then take an average at the end of each 7 day period. This gives a more accurate reflection of progress, and takes away the likelihood of you adopting murderous tendencies when your weight spikes by 3 lbs, one morning.
Blood Markers (cholesterol, triglycerides, vitamin and mineral levels)
Now, blood markers aren't exactly going to be an every day measurement. Not unless you want to spend half your day with a needle in your arm like an obsessed heroin addict. And it's not something everyone needs to do. Essentially, if you have no symptoms of high cholesterol, nutrient deficiencies, and the like, then it might not be worth it.
But in some cases, getting your bloods tested a few times a year is a good idea. If you're in a more 'at risk' category, then getting checked more frequently, may be beneficial.
Your Waist to Hip ratio is a reasonably good indicator of health. Plus, it's relatively quick and easy to do. So, why the fuck not, right?
Just make sure you're consistent with how you're taking the measurements. And be mindful that time of day (and time of month for the ladies) may have an impact.
Here's the calculation and guidelines you need to follow.
Waist-Hip Ratio = Waist (cm) ÷ Hip (cm)
So the idea is to get under these target ranges.
Visible Changes In Body Composition
Body composition is commonly what you, and most other people, put all of their attention into. Basically, this where you start to look all buff and badass. So whether you're a women looking to "get toned", or a dude who wants a body to be proud of when he's strutting down the beachfront, body composition is where it's at. In simplistic terms, body fat down, muscle mass up, is the formula for success.
And you can track that progress objectively. You don't have to judge it by the amount of likes your #transformationtuesday picture gets on Instagram.
Regular progress pictures, measurements of key body parts (think arms, thighs, chest etc), and how your clothes feel, are great measures. Daily is probably a bit much, but every 2-4 weeks is a sensible start.
Exercise And Activity
Being more active is going to help improve your health. From increasing your step count, to helping achieve a calorie deficit, through to throwing around weights in the gym. It all adds up to pushing your body and health in the right direction.
And if you're less out of breath walking up flights of stairs, or can bench press your own bodyweight, these performance markers help judge how your body and well-being are improving.
Often forgotten. Often overlooked. But so important for health. From helping keep hunger at bay, to aiding recovery, to simply allowing yourself to recharge, sleep is important to track. And not just the amount, but the quality too.
7-9 hours is an ideal range. Although, you may find you operate just fine on a little less, which is cool. Just be conscious of aiming for as much unbroken sleep as possible. And if you need some help with that, you might find the top tips in this article useful.
Yes. You read that right, supplementation. I'm not a huge fan of recommending supplements for the sake of it. Mainly, because most of the them are hyped up, pointless wastes of money, serving no purpose other than to line the pockets of some shady companies.
But, there are a few that have been proven to assist with weight loss and health. Now, I'll warn you they're not sexy sounding. You're certainly not going to hear names like 'Beast Mode 4000." But, ask yourself, do want to take something that actually works, or something that sounds like works?
Here we go.
How much should you take?
300-1800mg/day (combined EPA & DHA). Aim towards the higher end of the range if you don't get much oily fish in your diet.
What are the benefits?
How much should you take?
2500-4000IU / day. If you want to get really specific with your dosage, you'll need a blood test. But, speaking in very general terms, 2500IU/day is a good start point for most.
What are the benefits?
Without direct, daily exposure to sunlight, deficiencies in vitamin D are common. Especially, when you and I are spending most of our lives stuck inside, tapping away on computers all day.
Vitamin D also has a number of health benefits, including:
- Improvements immune system
- Improved bone health via greater calcium absorption
- Potential fat loss benefits
- Potential strength improvement
There are other supplements you could try in addition to these. Creatine if you're looking for improved training performance. And of course, a good ol' multivitamin if think you might need an 'insurance policy' while you're in a calorie deficit.
Weight Milestones Make Perfect Sense (For Some People)
So far, I've told you that notions of an ideal weight are largely misguided. But weight goals are still a great tool, for some people.
For example, someone who is very obese and clearly needs to lose a lot of weight could benefit from weight milestones. Because while dropping 5-10kg may not be easy, it's likely to be more rapid and highly motivational. So targeting these milestones makes sense.
But as you get progressively balls (or ovaries) deep into the dieting process, these big strides forward, are more difficult to come by. And often serve to be an emotionally draining weight loss anchor, rather than the motivational milestone you originally intended.
How Much Should I Weigh? The Bottom Line On Your Ideal Weight
You'll never know your ideal weight until you get there. Because it's more than just a number. Your ideal weight is about how comfortable you feel in your own skin, your confidence, and your mental and physical health. Setting a goal-weight based on what life was like when you were 17, is not one based in reality.
Here's the thing.
Scale weight, when used in the right way, is a great measure of progress. But building it up to be the ONLY measure of your success, is wrong. You are more than a number on a scale. More than your gravitational pull towards the centre of the Earth. You are a thinking, feeling, emotionally-driven sentient being. So start thinking about your goals intelligently.
Your ideal weight is arbitrary. If you love the way you look and feel, 5kg above where you set your target, does that matter? To me, it doesn't matter one bit.
And even then, your ideal weight sits in a range. It doesn't need to be a precise number for the rest of your life. If that's the way you end up thinking, you'll be hitting the panic button with each daily fluctuation.
Chill out, fluctuating a few kilos either side allows you to enjoy life, be flexible with food, and not live under the dark cloud of the scale, for eternity.
So put your attention into the process. Into doing the right things each day. And when you achieve your goal, your weight will be what it'll be. Who actually gives a fuck?
Your Next Step To Mastering Nutrition And Shaping A Leaner, Healthier, Stronger Body
Here’s what to do next to get on the fast track to a leaner, healthier, stronger body. Simply click the link below and I’ll send you my Lean Life Kickstarter Pack. In it you’ll find a free 4 week beginner’s training programme (complete with exercise videos and a workout tracker), a guide on calculating your calories, plus so much more.
If you want it, grab it here.
But for now, all I’ll say is… Keep living the Lean Life and I’ll see you soon.