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Old 05-10-2009, 05:11 PM   #1
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Talking What is the ideal weight?

Hi crowd!

I'm a newbie, but happy to report that I've lost 38 pounds in the last 6 months by watching what I eat and working out like a sled dog. There's many a mile of tundra behind me now ...

I have been keeping track of my weight on a daily basis for the last three months. I can fit a straight line through the data points. On the average, I have been losing one pound every 4.5 days. I feel fit, confident, and in control of the process.

Which leads to the following question -- what should my goal be? I feel like I could pick any weight loss target I like and hit it smack on. If I focus only on BMI, I would reason as follows: I am 5' 9 3/8" tall, so to have a BMI of 25 I would need to be 170 pounds. If I pick BMI = 23, I could justify having a goal all the way down to 155.

Is there any other way to think about it? BMI is the only trick I know. If anyone has any sensible suggestions on how to choose a weight loss goal, I'm all ears!

If anyone's interested I can also offer more details on how I lost 38 pounds ...

 
Old 05-10-2009, 05:45 PM   #2
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Re: What is the ideal weight?

Try not to think only in terms of weight.

Your weight includes both body fat and lean tissue. The unhealthy effects of being "overweight" are really due to being overfat. When most people think of "weight loss", they really should be thinking of fat loss.

A lean muscular athlete with a BMI of 26 may be "overweight", but not have any excess body fat and not have any of the health problems of being overfat. In contrast, some people with lower BMIs may have so little muscle or lean tissue that they have a lot of body fat and are vulnerable to health problems typically associated with "overweight". Such people are sometimes said to have sarcopenia or be "skinny fat", and (for those in the lower end of the "healthy" weight / BMI range) may benefit more from gaining muscle than losing fat, which may cause them to be underweight.

It may be worth tracking your progress in ways beyond just weight, such as:

* Body fat percentage measurements or calculations based on other measurements besides just weight alone (be aware that most methods are not that accurate in an absolute sense, but will show you trends).

* Waist size measured at navel level. The usual target for health is to get it to be no more than half your height and no more than (for men) 0.95 of your hip size (0.8 for women). Waist size measures the most unhealthy type of excess body fat in the abdomen.

* Dated photos of yourself.

Note that competitive athletes often get down to lower levels of body fat percentage or waist sizes, compared to the levels suggested for good health. However, some people with unlucky genetics may have to maintain athlete levels of body fat to avoid problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc..

Last edited by tjlhb; 05-10-2009 at 05:54 PM.

 
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Old 05-10-2009, 06:08 PM   #3
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Talking Re: What is the ideal weight?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tjlhb View Post
Try not to think only in terms of weight.
Hence my question!

Quote:
Originally Posted by tjlhb View Post
It may be worth tracking your progress in ways beyond just weight, such as:

* Body fat percentage measurements or calculations based on other measurements besides just weight alone (be aware that most methods are not that accurate in an absolute sense, but will show you trends).
I understood your bullet about waist size, and I think I can make that measurement myself. But what about this one, body fat percentage? Is there any easy measurement for this that I can make myself?

Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

 
Old 05-10-2009, 08:53 PM   #4
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Re: What is the ideal weight?

I go by my clothing size. As a woman, I have a petite frame and wear a size 2. When I start feeling my clothes fitting tighter, I know I have to work more. I am not too tall (5'4) and know many women taller than me who claim to weigh less and don't work out much if at all. They're often a larger size too. So, I know weight isn't the best thing to go by. It sounds like the numbers you mentioned are reasonable, and yes, BMI can be a good way to keep track. If you have a lot of muscle (which I think I do, especially in my legs), you will weigh more. If you have a larger frame, you will weigh more even if you don't have a lot of fat on you. You can also go by body fat %. There are many ways to keep track. I also occasionally do body measurements. I just hear such a wide range in weight numbers, so it's hard to only go by weight.

 
Old 05-10-2009, 09:59 PM   #5
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Re: What is the ideal weight?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Positronicus View Post
But what about this one, body fat percentage? Is there any easy measurement for this that I can make myself?
There are several methods to measure body fat percentage on a living person.

Methods easier to do at home, but may be less accurate in an absolute sense (though useful for checking progress):

* Measure height, waist size, neck size (and hip size for women) and plug into a formula used by the US Navy.

* Use calipers to measure skin fold sizes and plug into a formula to get body fat percentage. But only measures subcutaneous fat, rather than abdominal visceral fat that is more unhealthy.

* Use a scale or other device that passes a small current through your body and uses the resistance to plug into a formula to find body fat percentage. May mistake bone for fat, which is why some devices have an "athlete" mode that assumes more bone.

The less convenient methods for measuring body fat include the following:

* Underwater weighing, to measure body density to calculate body fat percentage from.

* Measurement of body volume by air or water displacement to get body density to calculate body fat percentage from.

* DEXA, a type of X-ray device to look inside to see body fat.

 
Old 05-10-2009, 11:13 PM   #6
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Re: What is the ideal weight?

Wow, I came to the right place! Thanks!

Since I'm a do-it-yourselfer, I think I'll get a tape measure and use the Navy method. I found a couple of calculator sites online that will do the math for you. <removed> With practice, I should be able to do this myself.

Thanks!

Last edited by mod-anon; 05-11-2009 at 08:40 PM. Reason: posted disallowed website(s) - please read the posting rules

 
Old 05-11-2009, 07:37 AM   #7
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Re: What is the ideal weight?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tUrRrRa View Post
I am not too tall (5'4) and know many women taller than me who claim to weigh less and don't work out much if at all. They're often a larger size too.
Assuming that they are truthful, that likely means that they have a higher body fat percentage, since fat is less dense than muscle. They may be lighter but fatter, a less desirable (from a health standpoint) situation than being heavier with muscle.

 
Old 05-11-2009, 03:01 PM   #8
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Re: What is the ideal weight?

^That is true. I have not really gotten an accurate body fat % done. I use a machine that my gym has and it often fluctuates quite a bit, so I don't think it's too accurate. I'll have to try a new method! I hate to compare body fat % to others because most people I talk to about working out are guys, so they will just about always have less fat than I do!

My weight also fluctuates during the day, so weight can be inaccurate for this reason too. As soon as I start drinking water first thing in the morning and as soon as I start eating, I gain at least a few pounds. I try to go by my weight in the morning, but sometimes I have to wait until later and then can't tell if I just have food in my belly or if I really did gain weight!

 
Old 05-11-2009, 03:33 PM   #9
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Re: What is the ideal weight?

If the body fat measuring device at your gym is one of the electrical ones, it can fluctuate significantly due to hydration level. Although even the "more accurate" methods like underwater weighing can be affected by that as well. As with just weight, body fat measurements and proxies like waist size are best measured shortly after waking to minimize variation due to eating, hydration, etc. (though some variation still occurs).

Based on the body fat percentage tables that I have seen, females have about 7% higher body fat than males do, for the same "category". For example, the American Council on Exercise suggests that the "fitness" category for women is 21-24%, while the "fitness" category for men is 14-17%.

 
Old 05-11-2009, 07:15 PM   #10
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Re: What is the ideal weight?

Today I got a flexible tape measure for neck (17") and waist (36"), and found a widget which combines the Navy formula and the BMI -

According to this widget,

Body Mass Index: 26.9 kg/m2
Waist-to-Height ratio: 0.52
Percent Body Fat: 17.7%
Lean Body Mass: 151.4 lb
You are overweight by 6.3 kilograms (13.9 pounds)

-- at almost 18%, I'm still outside the "fit" range. It looks like I've got some more work to do, but once I get down to, say, 170 pounds or so, then both the BMI part of the calculator and the body fat part will stop complaining.

I think this is a step in the right direction over thinking only about BMI. Thanks!

Last edited by moderator2; 05-11-2009 at 08:24 PM. Reason: posted disallowed website(s) - please read the posting rules

 
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