First of all, welcome to My Dream Shape's website. The spot to find tips, tricks, recipes and workouts to get the shape of your dreams. This is a really hot topic because I see a lot of people asking that question to themselves and I would like to clarify all of it.
What Is The Ideal Weight?
So you might have asked yourself at some point, "What is my ideal weight?". But in fact, there is more than one way to determine what our ideal weight is and it is important to understand the advantages and the limits of each method.
So first of all, to measure the ideal weight there is an international standard that is used by convention by health professionals.
BMI (Body Mass Index)
You probably heard of the "BMI" before, which stands for Body Mass Index.
This is a tool that correlates the height and weight of a person. As an example, I measure 5'6" (1.68m) the BMI suggests that there is a weight interval that would be best for me to prevent the apparition of certain diseases, particularly chronic diseases.
How Is BMI Calculated?
The "Body Mass Index" will only take your weight and height into consideration. The formula is your weight/height² where your weight is in kg and height in meters. This will give you a number (units are kg/m²).
If you want to know your BMI, you can use this one :
What Is The Normal BMI?
The convention established that to have a normal weight, this number has to be anywhere between 18.5 and 25. So as an example, if my height is 5'6", it means that my normal weight can be anywhere between 115 pounds and 155 pounds. Note that this is a pretty large interval as there is a difference of 40 pounds between 115 and 155 pounds. We'll see later how to find your ideal weight with that.
What If I'm Not In The Normal Range?
So if your BMI is in the normal interval, you have a lesser risk of developing some diseases.
But what happens of my BMI is under 18.5?
Well unfortunately, for my height, this weight wouldn't be considered as ideal because if my weight is insufficient, I would be more at risk of developing some health conditions. Obviously, if my BMI was even lower than 16, my weight would be extremely insufficient and would be qualified as "severely underweight". With a weight that is too low, I would have a really small muscle mass and a really small fat mass and these have some vital functions which can lead to medical conditions. So it is better to have a sufficient weight.
What happens if my BMI is over 25?
On the other side, if my weight is a little bit higher than a BMI of 25 kg/m², lets say between 25 and 30, I would be considered overweight but not obese. On the other hand, if my weight keeps increasing with years and I reach a BMI of 30, I would reach the obesity level. What happens with obesity is that it puts us more at risk of developing some medical conditions. The problem is that when your fat mass increases, the fat sometimes accumulates around the waist and puts our organs more at risk of developing chronic diseases. So between 30 and 35, we'd be obese class 1, between 35 and 40, we'd be obese class 2 and if we reach a BMI over 40 we'd be morbidly obese.
To conclude, if you do the math and find out your BMI shows that you are in the overweight or obese category don't freak out yet! You have to tell yourself that it's not the end of the world and it doesn't mean that you have to lose all that weight tomorrow or your going to die... In fact, studies have shown that even if you decrease your weight by 5 to 10% and even if you don't necessarily catch up to the "normal BMI interval", you can really decrease the risk of developing health conditions significantly.
If we take the example of a woman that would be 180 pounds and 5'4" who starts increasing her activity level and making better choices (maybe because she could be following my website :) hehe), well then her weight would start decreasing a little bit because we never want a really fast and drastic weight loss as this is never recommended. But a steady weight loss, about 2 pounds a week, and she would end up losing 10% of her initial weight in about 9 weeks which would be 18 pounds which would lead her to 162 pounds which would lead her to a BMI of 27.7 which would be in the overweight category. She could bash herself for not being in the "normal interval", but no! From wherever you start and land, studies have shows that 10% makes a huge difference for your health. So 5-10% is perfect, no worries, wherever you start it will bring a lot of benefits to your health condition. It's not necessary to have an surrealist goal of losing 200 pounds to be in the normal category. This will only put too much pressure on yourself.
But Aren't We All Different?
Obviously, everybody is different. So even if you put 1000 women that are all 5'4" next to each other, not a single one of them will have the same shape. Some are more round or "apple shaped" when they accumulate more fat on the waist section, some are more "pear shaped" and have a tendency to keep body fat around hips, some will be more muscular... So even for the same weight and height, everybody is still different. So the point is that BMI is a very vague tool that is only used to guide people knowing in which category they stand to motivate them reaching a weight that will decrease the risk of developing diseases.
But, as an example, for 5'5" women the normal interval is between 115 and 155 pounds. I think you will agree with me that between 110 and 150 pounds there is a HUGE difference! But it would still be a normal weight in this whole interval. It is also possible that your weight is in the normal interval but that you are still not feeling comfortable with the way you look. Some people are bothered when they carry more fat around the abdominal or the hips...
So What Is The Exact "Ideal Weight"?
Since there's such a big interval for what the BMI suggests, the truth is that the ideal weight is unique for everybody. The ideal weight is the weight in which you feel good with yourself. Some people have a certain weight and feel extremely comfortable with a BMI of 18-19 as some other can feel perfectly good with a BMI of 23-24 and that perfectly fine. What we have to do is to find our "well being" weight, and this is what I find the most important to look at. This can be done by increasing the activity level, starting to walk more often while benefiting from all the other benefits such as an increased energy level and to maintain our intellectual development as being active also stimulates our brain a lot. So if you can reach that weight and maintain it, it would be your ideal weight.
What About The Body Fat Percentage?
As I said, BMI is not a precise tool. It is possible to be an high level athlete and to have a lot of muscle mass and but to be in the overweight category while not having a lot of fat at all. That is because BMI doesn't take your muscle mass into consideration, and these are heavier than fat. So muscle mass is also something to be taken into consideration. An health professional will never base his diagnostic only on your BMI, it is only one of the tools that are used.
Another thing that could be used is the waist measurement. The reason why this is taken into consideration is that the fat accumulated around the abdominal region causes more damage to the organs near by and have a higher risk of increasing the cholesterol level and other medical conditions. According to the studies, the waist measurement with the lowest risks would be under 80 cm (31.5 inches) for women and under 94 cm (37 inches) for men. If you are over that, a realistic goal could be 88 cm for women or 102 cm for men which would also keep your risk pretty low.
What if I am gaining muscle mass?
If you are training a lot, you might also be gaining muscle mass and your weight is pretty much irrelevant. Your body fat percentage is a much better hint of your health condition and I recommend fixing a body fat percentage goal rather than a weight goal.
If you wish to learn how to calculate your body fat, you can check out my post here :
So What Is My Ideal Weight?
I know it might be a bit lame, but you are the only one who knows what your ideal weight is. The quality of a person is not determined by their weight and there is a lot of other goals that you might rather focus on such as your energy level and well being. But an ideal weight is something that has to fit your life style and that you are able to maintain.
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