What Is Your Goal Weight

Ask yourself when in your life did you look and feel your very best? How much did you weigh then? Can you comfortably weigh that again? What size did you wear then? Don't skip over these questions. As I always say, you're the greatest expert on your body. Whatever that wonderful weight-and size-was, you can almost certainly reach it again. Was it 120? 140? 170?

Most people have a pretty good sense of that number. They held that weight for a good part of their lives and found that they gained weight only after specific events, such as getting married, having kids, quitting cigarettes, starting or stopping medication or experiencing certain hormonal changes. Why not go for it?

On the other hand, is that "perfect" weight unrealistic now that you're couple of decades older? Menopausal women particularly often have a hard time staying as slim as they once were. So perhaps a more realistic approach is to ask what is the weight you would be comfortable with today. The trick is to come up with a figure that is attainable without setting yourself up for disappointment.

Ted Asher set himself a goal weight of 170 pounds when he began Atkins. At five feet eight inches tall, this 34-yearold had reached a modestly prodigious 227 pounds. Could it be his bachelor's breakfast of two Pop-Tarts washed down with a can of soda? And perhaps that nutritional approach was causing his occasional bouts of gastrointestinal distress? One weekend Ted read an earlier edition of this book and started doing Atkins.

He stayed on Induction for a couple of months, and then gradually moved through the stages toward Lifetime Maintenance, stopping well short of 100 grams of carbs. He had lost 47 pounds by that time, taken up golfing and shared his doctor's pleasure at his cholesterol and triglyceride improvements. Along the way, he decided he felt pretty good at 180 pounds. He says he'd like to lose 10 more pounds but thinks they'll come off with a bit more exercise. I hope he gets that exercise, but he's right not to obsess over the last 10 pounds; he looks and feels fine, and his blood work shows the inside of him is now as healthy as the outside.

If you don't recall ever being a weight you were happy with, the Body Mass Index (BMI) chart on the opposite page should give you a ballpark figure to aim for. Be aware that the BMI is just a guideline: If you are very muscular, for example, your BMI will often come out too high.

You'll see that the BMI chart gives you numbers at the top. By checking your height and weight below and running your finger up the column to where the BMI figures are, you will find your BMI number. Based on these figures, the federal government has announced guidelines that create a new definition of a healthy weight-a BMI of up to 24.9. A BMI of 25 or above is considered overweight. If your BMI is 26 or 27, you are approximately twenty percent overweight. Individuals who fall within the BMI range of 25 to 34.9 and have a waist size of over forty inches for men and over thirty-five inches for women are considered to be at especially high health risk.

For most people, this chart is helpful as a general guideline-ranges that are considered the norm-but I can't emphasize this too strongly: The best weight for you is the one at which you feel comfortable and attractive and can enjoy your life. It also needs to be a weight you can maintain.

Say your best friend and you are the same height and generally the same build, but she wants to be rail thin, while you are comfortable with 10 pounds more on your frame-if it feels good to you, that's what counts. Remember, too, that if you are physically active and have a low BMI, you can weigh more than your sister, who thinks lifting a pencil is exercise.

This isn't climbing Mount Everest; you can reach your goal weight. I know that if you're metabolically similar to the tens of thousands of overweight patients I've treated over the last forty years, you have an excellent chance of succeeding.

Body Mass Index Chart

Height Body Weight (pounds)

(inches)

58

91 96

100

105

110

115

119

124

129

134

138

143

148

153

158

162 167

59

94 99

104

109

114

119

124

128

133

138

143

148

153

158

163

168 173

60

97 102

107

112

118

123

128

133

138

143

148

153

158

163

168

174 179

61

100 106

111

116

122

127

132

137

143

148

153

158

164

169

174

180 185

62

104 109

115

120

126

131

136

142

147

153

158

164

169

175

180

186 191

63

107 113

118

124

130

135

141

146

152

158

163

169

175

180

186

191 197

64

110 116

122

128

134

140

145

151

157

163

169

174

180

186

192

197 204

65

114 120

126

132

138

144

150

156

162

168

174

180

186

192

198

204 210

66

118 124

130

136

142

148

155

161

167

173

179

186

192

198

204

210 216

67

121 127

134

140

146

153

159

166

172

178

185

191

196

204

211

217 223

68

125 131

138

144

151

158

164

171

177

184

190

197

203

210

216

223 230

69

128 135

142

149

155

162

169

176

182

189

196

203

209

216

223

230 236

70

132 139

146

153

160

167

174

181

188

195

202

209

216

222

229

236 243

71 136 143 150 157 165 172 179 186 193 200 208 215 222 229 236 243 250

72 140 147 154 162 169 177 184 191 199 206 213 221 228 235 242 250 258

73 144 151 159 166 174 182 189 197 204 212 219 227 235 242 250 257 265

74 148 155 163 171 179 186 194 202 210 218 225 233 241 249 256 264 272

75 152 160 168 176 184 192 200 208 216 224 232 240 248 256 264 272 279

76 156 164 172 180 189 197 205 213 221 230 238 246 254 263 271 279 287

Source: Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, National Instititutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, June 1998.

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