My HEALTHY weight loss mission.
Firstly, thank you to all those people who are being really very well meaning with their comments: “you’re perfect just as you are”, and “your weight doesn’t matter, it’s about how you feel in yourself”. These are very sweet things to say, and I know I’ve said them to people in the past. However, if I’m brutally honest, I’m not sure that they are terribly helpful things to say. When caring for people (including myself), I rate health and happiness high up on the priority ladder. And, being the right weight very much feeds into one’s physical health. When I’m physically well, I find I’m mentally well.
When I went for my 5 yearly health check a few weeks ago now, I was told in no uncertain terms that I was OVERWEIGHT.
And whilst I recognize that ‘weight’ is only one aspect of health, it’s one aspect that I CAN do something about, where others might be out of my control. And, if there is something I can do about it, then why wouldn’t I?!
So, it’s with ‘health’ as a priority that I embarked on my weight loss mission, which is why I was upset when someone commented that ‘obsessing’ over my weight wasn’t healthy.
Firstly, I’m really not obsessing. This is quite simply something, in fact one of quite a few things, that I’m focusing on at the moment.
Secondly, for me, being mindful of my weight is healthy. I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that anyone who wants to lose weight is doing so because they feel unhappy in themselves; or because they’ve seen countless magazines with countless skinny models and feel that’s how we should all look; or because they’re obsessed with their appearance; or must have an eating disorder.
In some instances that is sadly the case. However, in other instances, people lose weight because they want to be physically healthy, not because they are mentally unhealthy. I hope that makes sense?
I did point out to the (REALLY annoying) person that being mindful of one’s weight can help avoid:
type 2 diabetes
high blood pressure
heart disease and strokes
certain types of cancer
fatty liver disease
pregnancy problems, such as high blood sugar during pregnancy, high blood pressure, and increased risk for cesarean delivery (C-section)
But I think she was so hell bent on finding fault in what I was doing that nothing I said would have registered. So I smiled sweetly, and then as she walked away I flicked the v’s. No one was looking, and it made me feel much better, so I think perfectly acceptable in this instance.
On the other hand, I have also had a lot of conversations with people who acknowledge the importance of being a healthy weight, and have asked to join me on my journey. So, for those coming along for the ride, a reminder of the process so far:
Firstly, calculate your BMI: it’s a simple way to find out if your weight is healthy in relation to your height. There is an equation you can do but it’s quicker just to go online and plug your deets into one of the zillions of calculators. I used the ones below:
There are however limitations of the BMI: if someone is a very athletic type who has a lot of muscle (Will for example) (oh how he’ll love that) then the BMI will be overestimated by the calculation (as it would if you were pregnant). Your BMI can tell you if you’re carrying too much weight, but it cannot tell if you’re carrying too much fat. The BMI cannot tell the difference between excess fat, muscle or bone.
very muscular adults and athletes may be classed "overweight" or "obese" even though their body fat is low
adults who lose muscle as they get older may fall in the "healthy weight" range even though they may be carrying excess fat
So rather than work with BMI, Will chooses to work with weight and body fat, and that's what he measured on me. Good old-fashioned scales will tell you your weight, and here’s a chart you can refer to:
He also measures your body fat percentage, which is simply the amount of body fat you carry. This also makes a difference to your body shape and your health.
NB: the above image is rather small on purpose...it's one thing to share all this, quite another to shout about it!
Your shape is affected by body fat percentage because muscle tissue is more compact than fat - a balloon containing 1lb of muscle tissue would be smaller than a balloon containing 1lb of fat! So a woman, 5' 6" tall weighing 140lbs (10 stone) who does regular muscle enhancing exercise, will have a lower body fat percentage, and look slimmer, than a woman of the same height and weight who doesn't exercise and therefore has a higher ratio of body fat.
Measuring changes in body fat percentage, rather than just measuring changes in weight, can be very motivational when you're on this kind of weight loss regime - especially if you are exercising. Which I am. LOTS.
Once you’ve determined your weight / fat loss goals, you then need to determine your ideal calorie intake. I used the TDEE calculator, which told me my ‘maintenance’ calories (2000) but also my calorie deficit (500) to help me lose a pound a week over 12 weeks.
I find MyFitnessPal the easiest way to track my daily calories. You can input all your food and exercise, and keep a tab throughout the day so you know what you’ve consumed, and what you’ve got left to enjoy! Contrary to what I expected, I don’t find this tedious (yet!), in fact I actually quite enjoy it. I was quite surprised to see that the handful of walnuts I eat daily, without even batting an eyelid, is a fairly hefty 350 calories. I won’t always use the calorie counter, as I simply don’t have time, but it’s a good eye opener.
And that’s where I’m up to really. I have a goal, I’m on my journey, and I’m waiting to see what happens but I’m not obsessing over the end goal, because I’m actually really quite enjoying myself along the way! I know I’m being healthy, and I know I’m proactively looking after myself. A very positive place to be.
Please note the following:
Being underweight is of course unhealthy too
I am not a Dr or a Personal Trainer
This is an opinion blog only