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Your 2024-2025 Benefits Guide

Weight Management

What Does a Healthy Weight Mean to You?

What Does a Healthy Weight Mean to You?

What is a healthy Bodyweight?

A healthy body weight is unique to each person—a healthy weight is one that minimizes your risk for health problems. For most people, when they find the right balance of nutrition and activity, a healthy body weight follows. Finding that right balance and sticking with it is when it can become a challenge.

There are two ways to quickly determine whether your weight poses potential health risks: body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference.

According to the National Institutes of Health, BMI can help predict the development of health problems related to excess weight. Losing even a small amount of weight—just 5 to 10 percent of your current weight—can help to lower your risk for chronic diseases. BMI is accurate for most people but it does have some limitations. It can overestimate body fat in those with a muscular build, like athletes. It can also underestimate body fat in anyone who has lost muscle mass, such as many older persons. BMI doesn’t reflect body fat distribution.

Find your body mass index (BMI)

To use the chart above, find your height in inches in the left column. Use your finger to scan the corresponding row to find your weight. Your body mass index (BMI) is the bold number at the top of the column where your height and weight intersect.

  • BMI below 18.5 indicates a weight too low for good health.
  • BMI of 18.5–24.9 indicates a healthy weight and carries little health risk.
  • BMI of 25.0–29.9 is considered overweight and carries some increased health risk.
  • BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese and poses the greatest health risk.

What is your waist measurement?

Your waist circumference measurement is also important in determining your overall disease risk. If you carry fat mainly around your waist, you are more likely to develop health problems than if you carry fat mainly in your hips and thighs. This is true even if your BMI falls within the normal range.

Women with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches or men with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches can have a higher risk for certain chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.

To measure your waist circumference, place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above the top of your hip bone. If you have difficulty feeling your hip bone, place the tape measure across your navel. Be sure that the tape is parallel to the floor and snug, but does not compress your skin.

Setting a weight management goal

Setting a weight loss goal involves at least two steps. First, figure out the weight that puts you at a BMI between 19 and 25 using the chart on the previous page.

For example, let’s say you are 5′ 6″ tall which is 66 inches. The weight in the 66 inches row and the BMI column of 25 is 155 pounds. Your weight goal should be less than 155, but more than 118, which would be too low for good health. What is your target healthy weight goal?

Since losing even 5 to 10% of your current weight can reduce your risk for chronic diseases, consider those weight goal milestones if your long-term healthy weight goal seems far away.

The next step is to look at your timeframe for losing weight. One to two pounds per week is a safe guideline for losing weight. Depending on how much weight you want to lose, you may want to set weight loss goals based on time. For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds to get to your healthy weight goal, you would need at least ten weeks (2 pounds per week for 10 weeks). Think about weekly weight goals that will move you towards your healthy weight goal over time and write them down.

It’s all a matter of balance

Losing weight is really a matter of balancing how much you take in (eat/drink) with how much you expend (burn). One pound of fat contains approximately 3,500 calories. If you want to lose one pound per week, divide 3,500 by 7 days. This equals 500 calories per day. You could eat a little less—300 calories less per day—and do extra activity so you burn 200 calories more per day.

By the time most people are ready to take action to lose weight, they are impatient. Unfortunately, quick weight loss often results in equally quick weight gain once the diet or short-term strategy is done. Gradual changes in eating and exercise habits give you a better chance to make changes that will last a lifetime.

A lifetime plan

Rather than thinking about starting a diet, how about shifting to a lifetime healthy weight plan? The goal is not to deprive yourself of all your favorite foods, but to learn how to enjoy a wide variety of foods in moderation and to enjoy an active lifestyle—for life.

Successful weight loss plans include the following:

  • daily calorie budget based on current height, weight, gender, age, and activity level
  • weekly weight loss goals (not more than 2 pounds per week)
  • physical activity most days of the week
  • tracking of daily calorie intake and physical activity

If you’re not sure where to start, you can get an estimate of how many calories you need for your current weight by going to the ChooseMyPlate.gov website (www.choosemyplate.gov). This free website, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), also offers eating plans.

The Daily Food Plans are based on average calorie needs for groups of people. They are available at various calorie levels in increments of 200. These plans are meant to give you a starting point to help you stay at your current weight. If you want to lose weight, you may want to move down to the next calorie level and/or increase your physical activity.

It’s important to stay at a Daily Calorie Budget of at least 1,200 calories per day for women, and at least 1,600 calories per day for men. Less than this makes it difficult to meet your minimum nutrient requirements. You may need to burn more calories through physical activity or lose weight more slowly to stay at your minimum calorie level.

Next steps

What steps are you ready to take towards reaching a healthy weight? See ideas/tips below that you can start this week.

  • Go to www.choosemyplate.gov and determine your daily calorie budget.
  • Go to www.choosemyplate.gov and download your appropriate calorie level eating plan.
  • Start keeping a food diary—write down everything you eat and drink for at least three days. Add any notes about how you feel to help you notice any emotional eating patterns.
  • Reduce your typical dinner portion by one third.
  • When eating out, ask for a “to go” container and put half of the meal away immediately for the next day.
  • Add a daily walk to your routine—starting with as little as 10 minutes if this is new to you.
  • Think about the type of physical activity you enjoy and are likely to stick with. Once you identify the best activity, start doing it!
  • If you use regular fat dairy products, substitute low-fat dairy products.
  • If you drink pre-sweetened drinks or regular sodas, replace them with water or sparkling water with a twist of lemon.
  • Slow your eating pace—it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to get the message that you’re eating.
  • When eating out, select foods prepared with healthy methods, such as baked, broiled, grilled, poached, roasted, sautéed or steamed.
  • When shopping, read food labels and compare products so you make healthy choices.
  • Reach out to a friend or family member—tell them your plans and share how they can support you (for example, be a walking buddy, or buying low-fat foods at the grocery store).
  • Purchase fresh or frozen fruits and/or vegetables that you can add to your daily menu.

Knowing where you want to go and steps to help you get there is a great start. Keep track of your progress and tap into the resources and support available to you!