What SHOULD You Weigh?

Do you remember those weight charts we used to find in all the magazines when we were young? Back in the 1980's? You would find your height (and sex, maybe) then see what you "should" weigh. Sometimes there was a range of about 20 pounds. Sometimes they offered you a different weight based on whether you were large or small boned.

I took those charts to heart. I made it my mission to weigh as little as possible, preferably less than any other small-boned waif of my height. I succeeded, for the most part, by dancing for numerous hours per day and eating less than a sparrow. One small handful of birdseed, at most, per day. And yes, it worked. I was skinny for most of my young adult life. Until I got pregnant.

For many women, this is the turning point. We finally give in to those cravings we have resisted for our entire lifespan, all in the name of feeding the miniscule fetus growing inside us. The fetus likes everything we've been telling ourselves not to eat. In my case, it was Burger King Whoppers. I once made my husband pull into a drive-thru window so I could eat a Whopper on the way to a dinner party at a friend's house. True story. It's all fun and games until you push the baby out and realize that you've gained way more than 6 pounds 2 ounces.

But I digress.

Today, in my early 50's, I weigh about 20 pounds more than I did when I was a young waif. Is this a problem? Should I be upset and freaked out? Not necessarily. Instead of being on the light end of the magazine chart, I'm now on the heavy end for my height. But still within a range considered "healthy." One big difference is that I now carry quite a bit more muscle on my small-boned frame. (And we all know muscle weighs more than fat.) As we head into old age, we are warned about losing muscle. Most old people do. So carrying more muscle as you make your way through middle age (and past) is a very good thing. In fact, strength is the best predictor of how long you will live. Strength accounts for better balance which means fewer falls. Strength also accounts for better bone density which means fewer broken bones if you do fall.

So what should YOU weigh? The same as you did at the age of 18? (I have honestly heard this as a goal.) For some of us, this may be the ideal weight. But we each need to determine our goal weight based on all the factors we value. Do you want to be strong? Because the stronger you are, the more muscle weight you will need to carry. Do you want to be healthy? Skinnier is not necessarily healthier. Of course, we all know about the dangers of obesity. But being chronically underweight can be dangerous, too. Do you want to be gorgeous? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and underweight can look just as unappealing as overweight. And lastly, do you want to be happy? Your goal weight should be a number you can live with, a number that you can maintain without a punishingly stringent diet.

As a weight loss coach, I talk and write a lot about losing weight. And I am committed to living a healthy life style, eating right, and exercising enough to look and feel good. I want the same for my clients. Determining how far to go, and when to stop losing weight, is just as vital as starting that diet in the first place.