A healthy body weight is much more than skin deep. By maintaining a healthy weight, you may be able to decrease your risk for high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.
Stepping on the scale or looking in the mirror doesn’t necessarily give you the full picture about whether you’re at a healthy weight. Try these weight management tools:
Check your body mass index. Your BMI score, which relates your height to your weight, suggests whether the amount of body fat you carry puts you at risk for health problems. Although BMI is a reliable indicator of total body fat, it may overestimate body fat in people who have a lot of muscle and underestimate body fat in people who have lost muscle mass. What Is Your Body Mass Index? Calculate it, then check the chart to see how your results stack up.
|Children and Adolescents|
(BMI for Age Percentile Range)
|Less than 5th percentile||Less than 18.5 kg/m2||Underweight|
|5th percentile to less than 85th percentile||18.5-24.9 kg/m2||Healthy Weight|
|85th percentile to less than 95th percentile||25.0-29.9 kg/m2||Overweight|
|Equal to or greater than the 95th percentile||30.0 kg/m2 or greater||Obese|
Source: USDA Dietary Guidelines 2010
Circle your waist. Your risk for health problems is higher if you tend to carry more fat around your middle than around your hips and thighs—even if your BMI is in the normal range. Women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches or men with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches are most at risk. Waist measurement tip: Place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above your hip bone. Be sure the tape is snug but does not compress your skin and is parallel to the floor. Relax, exhale and measure your waist.
Find a plan you can live with long term. A key to reaching and maintaining a healthful weight—once and for all—is to adopt a “fad-free” eating and exercise plan that suits your lifestyle. Eating deliciously is key.
Start with small steps—and keep on going. You don’t have to overhaul your eating and exercise habits overnight—start with just a few small changes and build from there. In fact, you might be more successful in the long run if you give yourself time to turn healthful changes into permanent habits.
Eat a little less, burn a little more. Losing just 1/2 to 1 pound per week can add up to big results over time. To meet this goal, try trimming 250 to 500 calories per day through a combination of eating fewer calories and burning more calories through physical activity.
Downsize your portions. One easy way to cut calories is to trim the amounts you usually eat. Just a few examples are to:
You can occasionally eat your favorite treats like cookies, cake and ice cream when you keep portion sizes small and account for the calories in your meal plan. Check out the serving size and calories per serving on the Nutrition Facts label. For built-in portion control, try Nabisco Cookies in 100 Calorie Packs and 100 Calorie Pack Cheese.
Lighten up! Trim calories and keep the taste by using products such as reduced fat cheeses and sour cream, light salad dressings and mayonnaise, low-calorie gelatin and sugar free pudding and gelatin. Read labels carefully, but products like these often have fewer calories per serving. Lighten up your recipes, too. Try these Healthy Living Makeovers.
Feel the fiber advantage. Eating fiber-rich foods can help keep you satisfied while you exercise and cut calories to lose weight. They provide bulk and make you chew more, which helps you feel full and satisfied after eating. Plus, eating slower gives your stomach time to tell your brain you’ve had enough. You’ll find fiber in bran and whole grain cereals, whole wheat bread, fruits, vegetables and beans.
Move more. Shoot for at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity each day. Taking a fitness walk or an exercise class is great, but so is walking around the mall before you start shopping, pushing your cart up and down all the grocery aisles or pacing around while you’re on the phone. Household chores such as vacuuming, sweeping and raking count, too.
Build a support system. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight may be easier if you have support from family and friends.
Keeping it off: Lasting lessons from successful losers
Sometimes losing weight is the easy part, but keeping it off is the real challenge. Research shows that people who are successful at keeping off lost pounds make similar long-term lifestyle changes based on diet and exercise. Successful losers:
Related link: Get tips on maintaining a Healthy Weight for Kids.