Maintaining a healthy weight over your lifetime is important for your overall health.
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A healthy weight is achieved by balancing two components, physical activity and nutrition. Both are essential and cannot exist without the other for optimal health.
What kind of physical activity?
Physical activity should be viewed in three phases: recreational, occupational and structured. A complete lifestyle overhaul should be addressed in all three.
Recreational: These are your hobbies, interests and what you do in your free time. It could be horseback riding, gardening, golf, hiking, skydiving, etc. If you don’t have any “down time” activities that require movement then I suggest simply walking in a park on nice days to enjoy everything around you.
Occupational: This can be difficult if you have a sedentary/desk job such as an accountant or graphic designer. If your job doesn’t require a lot of movement then you must concentrate more of the other two components.
Structured: This area is comprised of planned movement. You decide to go to the gym, join a basketball league or vow to play golf every Saturday. This area is also necessary to maintain the ability to continue your occupational and recreational activity.
What’s the deal with nutrition?
Nutrition means lifestyle. It is not a diet.
It does not mean you drink shakes for 30 days and lose 30 pounds.
It does not mean you eliminate a food group (unless for medical reasons) for a period of time or forever in order to lose weight quickly.
It does not mean “eat this for 1 week and lose 5 lbs”.
It means changing your “diet” for your lifetime.
Making changes that you are capable of doing for your life and understanding the balance that is required. It may be that you need to speak with a Registered Dietician who is educated, has years of experience and runs a licensed practice whose job is to help people with their nutrition.
What is a healthy weight?
This is a loaded question. The problem with height & weight tables and Body Mass Index (BMI) is that they fail to take into account lean body tissue or muscle mass. Choosing your ideal weight based upon these tables will have you frustrated and discouraged because of the daunting task of losing for example 40-50 lb. Here is the way I look at a healthy weight.
A healthy weight is comprised of three components.
First, a weight which a person can perform activities of daily living without undue fatigue. You should not feel like you ran a 5k when doing your laundry.
Second, a weight that is not associated with cardiac risk or other co-morbidities. When you go to the doctor for your physical and get blood work, you should not have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, etc.
Third, a weight which a person can still perform the following movements to the highest level and without pain: push, pull, squat, twist, lunge, walk/run and crawl. These moves should be done with proper form through full ranges of motion and rank in the high percentiles for norms for a person of similar age.
One caveat to the three components I just mentioned are genetic disorders or family history of certain diseases that are out of your control. For example, heart disease runs rampant through some families regardless of physical activity levels and nutrition.
Hopefully, this helps changes someones perception on what a “healthy weight” looks and feels like. I would love to hear everyone’s comments or questions on the topic as well!