One researcher said “Body weight is of physical and psychological importance and is associated with health status, physical activity, body image, and self-esteem,” (https://bmcwomenshealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1472-6874-4-S1-S5) and I could not agree any less.
Talking about self esteem and body image, many girls and women have this ardent desire to find that ‘perfect’ body/weight which has led them to take some bizzare measures only to cause more than good in the long run. Weight prejudice has been around for so long and this differs for different cultures. There are cultures that will promote and or advocate for one to be ‘fatter’ because it is associated with ‘good’ feeding, being or appearing wealthy and it is their way of good looking like in many parts of Africa yet other cultures like in the West will promote for slimmer sizes which puts a different kind of pressure for many. Whichever culture you subscribe to, it is important to aim at having a healthy weight that is unique to you.
What does healthy weight refer to?
Healthy weight refers to your Body Mass Index falling within a weight range that is not associated with an increased risk for weight-related diseases and health issues. What is body mass index you may ask? Body Mass Index (BMI) is determined by your height and your weight. BMI doesn’t measure body fat, but it often correlates with direct measures of body fat meaning a higher BMI tends to indicate higher body fat, and a lower BMI indicates lower body fat. Body mass index is for sure an easy way to monitor and get a general idea of a person’s body fat, but should not be used as a diagnostic tool for disease risk. Remember your BMI weight category isn’t an indicator of your overall health and being within a healthy weight range doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re healthy. Being underweight or overweight either doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re unhealthy either.
What should my body weight be?
There are a lot of concerns that arise around body weight and arguably the most question we receive as nutritionists/dieticians is around how much one should weigh? However, there is no straight answer to this and there is not one ideal healthy weight for each person, because a number of different factors play a role such as age, sex, height, muscle-fat ratio and body fat distribution, or body shape. Did you know that body weight is regulated by several mechanisms? Oh yes it is, mechanisms like genetic, physiologic, and behavioral factors. Let me give an example before I lose you, in obesity, an imbalance occurs between food intake and energy expenditure, which leads to an excess fat accumulation and negative health consequences.
How to maintain a healthy weight
Depending on where you lie right now there are things you may need to do to acquire a healthy weight. If you are overweight and obese, you may need to slash some bit of weight in order to achieve your healthy weight and if you are underweight, you may need to pile on some calories to reach your desired healthy and both these require a detailed explanation which I will put together and share with you soon or later (So be on the look out). Today let us focus on how to maintain this ideal weight. I like to believe that losing weight and or adding weight may be easier than maintaining an ideal weight. It almost feels like balancing on a thin wire and having to walk a great distance making sure you do not fall off the line. Maintaining a healthy weight not only benefits your overall health but also boosts your confidence in your appearance greatly, your self esteem and body image are greatly enhanced. So I will share some easy tips that you probably don’t even think about but could be the key to maintaining your healthy weight. Remember healthy weight is individualized and will be different for everyone even when you are members of the same family.
Tips on maintaining a healthy weight
Mind what you eat
With this you will have to pay attention to what you eat, not only in the quality of food but also the quantity of the food eaten. Portion sizes are important to avoid under or overeating. Pay attention to the nutrition facts on food labels listed on packages and make an informed choice. Make use of smaller plates and bowls as this will help you choose smaller portions at meals. Prioritize meal time and eat slowly, with focus on your meal. Listen to your body ‘s physical cues to stop eating before you feel overly full and let fruits and vegetables be a good part of your diets. Remember an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Physical exercises are your friend
Try to exercise as often as you can. This does not necessarily mean that you have to sign membership at some gym; sign up for membership if you can afford, however you can also make use of the simple exercises at home. Let the goal be to break bouts of sweat as regularly as possible. Your body weight is significantly affected by the amount of energy you take in and the amount you use. Now the secret is in striking a balance, to maintain a healthy weight, you will need to use as much energy as you consume. Find a good exercise routine that includes both cardio and strength training (luckily YouTube is littered with many of these lately). The benefits of daily exercise are more than just keeping your body weight in check; they are also for building muscle, strengthening your heart and helping your body function at its best.
Sleep Sleep Sleep
You must be wondering why sleep has appeared on this list but let me tell you, getting a good amount of sleep helps your body to reset and rejuvenate really well. In this era, it is very easy to enter your bed very early but keep on your phone only to realise that you are left with just 3 hours of sleep which is not good for your health. Make a conscious decision to have at least 7 hours of sleep each day.
Increase your water intake
Hydration is very important because the body systems require water to function seamlessly but also water is very important for maintaining a healthy weight. In addition to aiding digestion of the food you are eating, water will enable you to avoid overeating because part of your stomach will be filled with water which in turn will significantly reduce the amounts of food you consume while leaving you satisified.
Have regular medical check ups
Let us normalize the culture of having medical checkups with or without pain. Many of us only check in with a doctor when the body responds with pain whereas if we had routine medical check ups we could catch something before it gets worse. Many times radical changes in body weight are a signal of an anomaly that needs to be addressed. Arrange to have a medical checkup at least every quarter.
Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and will most certainly prevent and control many diseases and conditions the reason why maintaining a healthy weight is so important. Always remember that ideal weight is not an absolute target for either appearance or health as it may not take into account factors like muscle mass or health conditions that affect weight. Check in with your dietician today and get to know what your ideal weight looks like.