When we talk about knowing your numbers in order to manage your weight, we cannot help it, but think about the scale and how much we weigh. This is because in our society, being healthy and fit translates to losing the extra weight. I am not saying that this is wrong, but this is not the whole picture. In order to manage your weight accurately, you need more data. You might be skinny and your weight be in the healthy range for your height, but that does not necessarily mean that you are healthy, and vice versa. An athlete, who does body building, might weight more than average, according to his or her height and age, but that does not mean that he or she is not healthy.
Here is another reason why managing your weight by relying on monitoring your weight alone is not enough. You probably have noticed that your weight fluctuates, based on the time of the day, week or month that you weigh yourself. For example, you tend to weight higher after going out and indulging in a delicious pizza with your friends. Why? Food prepared at restaurants is usually high in carb, salt and sugars all of which will retain water. Therefore, your weight gain is due to water retention. It is impossible to gain weight after just one big meal.
In order to get a better picture of our health and set appropriate weight goals for our self, we need to look at more than just our weight and scale. Here are a few numbers that you need to look at.
- Your BMI or Body Mass index, which measure your body fat based on your weight in relation to your height. You can use The table below to determine your BMI.
Limitation of BMI: BMI on its own has some limitations. BMI does not take into account your Muscle ratio, so an athlete who has lots of muscle in his or her body might be classified as overweight based on BMI alone. Muscle is more dense than fat, therefore it takes less space within the body than fat. In this case the waist measurement would be more accurate.
- Waist Measurement: you should measure your waist at the smallest point at or near the navel (belly button). If you carry most of your weight around your midsection and your waist circumference is greater than 35 inches in women and 40 inches in men you might be at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, according to American council on exercise.
- BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate: shows you how much calory your body will consume at rest. This is how much energy you need if you stay in bed all day. Your BMR will change based on your age and your level of activities. Also, if you deprive yourself of food, extreme diets, your BMR tends to decrease. This explains why after being on a certain diet, you stop losing weight and in some cases you start gaining weight. Routine exercise will help with increasing your BMR because muscle tissue burns more calories than fat even when you are resting.
- Body fat %: knowing your exact body fat % is the hardest of all these measurements and it is very important. Total body fat percentage consists of essential fat, which is the amount necessary for maintenance of life and reproductive function, and stored fat, the extra fat. The percentage of essential fat for women is greater than that for men, due to the demands of childbearing and other hormonal functions. Too much fat can lead to health problems like heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and many other serious conditions. By keeping your body fat within a reasonable level, you’ll be healthier, feel better, increase your life expectancy, reduce your risk of certain conditions and of course, look slimmer as well.
There are many methods used to measure your body fat %, some of which can be very costly and you have to visit your healthcare professional to get some measurements, however there are ways that you can proximate your body fat % at home. I have provided a freebie that helps you with measuring your body fat % as well as your BMI and BMR. Links to receive the download are located at the beginning and end of this article. The table below shows the general body fat percentage categories:
|Obese||32% plus||26% plus|
As you can see managing your weight is far more than just a number on the scale. In order to help you keep track of these important measurements, I have created a free worksheet and you can get it here. Please note that the formulas used for male and female are different, therefore I have created two different worksheets. When signing up to receive your worksheet, please make sure you choose the right gender. As always, please feel free to leave me a comment or question below.
Stay Happy and healthy