There are several answers to how much you should weigh, but there is one answer that will be the most accurate, realistic and manageable.
Personally I prefer to use weight as a measurement of health, not just cosmetic beauty or how you fit into your favourite jeans as markers. There is a body weight that is optimum and a magic number or range that can be measured on a scale — a weight where not only can you fit into your pre-marriage wardrobe, but also which your body agrees with as well.
If you ask your doctor how much you should weigh, he may use the old BMI (body mass index) method, which is a simple index to classify if you’re underweight, overweight or obese. The target weight the BMI provides would typically require you to go on a permanent starvation diet to maintain. It’s an old and outdated method that I wouldn’t suggest following.
There are a few stages of most adults’ lives that can be used as historical markers and help with goal weight-setting and forecasting. The first is pre-marriage.
For many of you, this is probably when you weighed your lowest. It may have had something to do with running after, or away, from your pursuers. This activity was fueled by brain chemicals like the love/hate hormone Oxytocin and the “I want more!” neurotransmitter Dopamine.
During your socialite stage, you were probably much more fulfilled and didn’t need to fill up on fermented grapes to keep your spirits up.
The second signpost in one’s life would be post-marriage. This is when most women and men get comfortable. The chase is over, and it’s time to settle, or in other words, become complacent.
Your wardrobe will probably change at this point as you choose larger sizes, which could lead to choosing the one-size-fits-all designer athletic pants. Typically one could gain 15-30 pounds during this phase in life.
The third signpost or stage in the life cycle of your body weight is typical for any woman who has had children or for the fathers who have declared “we are pregnant.”
Usually, I see women’s bodies holding onto 5 lbs that they couldn’t lose after dropping the rest of their baby weight. This means if they have had two children, they could have as much as 10 pounds of additional weight that they find tough to lose.
Looking back in the past may be a tad depressive for most folks, but I do think it is necessary to forecast the future. This is why we study history, isn’t it?
My suggestion is for you to be responsible and realistic when you set your goal weight, which requires you to ask yourself: At what point was I in my best shape, fitness, and health (both mental and physical)?
The first objection for some people is that this is impossible or even absurd. If you’re more on the optimistic side, you may jump on this wagon a little too confidently and not know this wagon is going cross-country on a long and weary journey. Regardless of your emotional state, the fact is all of the evidence that states you can’t achieve this — like our age and lack of time — are false.
I have seen it many times as a health coach when I have helped women with two children lose their last 10 pounds of body fat or taken non-athletic men from the couch to the hockey arena. Personally speaking, I am now in better shape holistically than I ever was in my younger years. My weight and body fat percentage are at the all-time lows I experienced in my 20s and 30s, but what is different now is my health is in much better standing than it was back then.
These life stage markers are one way of picking a realistic goal weight for yourself, but now I want you to ask yourself: At what point in my adult life do I believe I was in peak form, both physically and mentally?
Next question: What was going on in your life that allowed you to stay in peak form? Outside the circumstances of your current responsibilities such as career and family, what were you doing differently than you are today?
Other markers found in your blood work will support a realistic goal weight as well, such as your blood sugar and triglyceride levels. One of the biggest rewards of being a health and weight-loss coach is when one of my health participants tells me they aced their physical and saw a major improvement in their blood work.
The “five-pound flex” is what I call the five-pound allowable fluctuation that many experience after a weeklong inclusive vacation, or for some people, even over the course of a day.
If there is a greater fluctuation than five pounds in your weight, either up or down from your goal weight, then consider that the red light and stop what you are doing.
My target weight is 195 pounds, and if I see the scale getting close to 200, I get an instant wake-up call, and I get my lifestyle and diet in order, pronto! My five-pound flex is 195-200 pounds, and I follow this doctrine religiously because it works for me, my body and my overall health.
From a different perspective, when you see a person who is ill, one thing that is usually very noticeable is their drop in body weight. This is when your weight can be used as a measurement of health as well.
In most cases it isn’t a matter of your weight decreasing for some unknown reason, rather, it’s a case of your weight increasing for an apparent reason which you may have turned into an unsolvable mystery.
Normally there isn’t some lurking medical mystery. The clues are in your day-to-day lifestyle, and if you put your activities (or lack thereof) under the microscope, you will find some simple solutions to your mysterious weight gain. KJ