Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Calculating Your Ideal Weight

Here is all you need to know...

Determining your ideal body weight can be tricky. Everyone has a different frame, metabolism, and weight distribution. Not to mention the level of hormones that are constantly fluctuating, or how our bodies process certain foods and chemicals. I have a very distinct memory of sitting at the kitchen table, across from my sister, who casually snacked on a tray of assorted cheesecakes while I remorsefully nibbled on some carrots, mentally repeating the mantra, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, nothing tastes as good as skinny feels..” like I was Dorothy trying to get back to Kansas.

Sure, she was a few years younger than me, but when I was that age, I weighed 15 lbs more than I do now. If only there was some miracle diet where you could eat processed sugar all day long and exercise twice a month, then we would all be 105 lbs and fabulously thin. Am I bitter? Slightly. The reality blows. Because, in reality, even genetics can’t get you to your ideal weight. 

But what is your ideal weight? Why is it that some people look fabulous at 140 lbs and others look flabby at 120? It all depends on your frame, body fat composition, and muscle tone. I, for example, have a weight of 122 lbs which makes me sound like I am fab and skinny. However, because I have an extremely petite frame, my body fat composition is about 23%, which is considered pretty average by today’s standards. Healthy, but not fit and toned. For women, we must have less than 16% body fat to show any ab muscles. So if you’ve been wondering why all those crunches haven’t paid off, its because it takes a ridiculous amount of work for you to melt the fat off your belly. You know why? Because science has cursed women with the gift of getting pregnant. This means that our bodies like to store fat in that region to provide a little padding for when we are with child. Thanks biology! I really needed another constant reminder that my biological clock is ticking besides my mother’s sly, “How is your boyfriend?” comments (my response…”You mean that boy I went on one date with six months ago? It’s going well. We haven’t talked since I discovered he had a weird anime obsession”). Determining your body fat is the first step in finding out your ideal weight. Let me walk you through the process.

  1)  Calculate your body fat percentage. If you want the most accurate number, you can go to your gym and have them determine it for you. This takes a little extra effort, and also requires you to possibly have a hot personal trainer pinching your fat and measuring it while you wonder why on earth you had that burger for lunch (I am projecting my own experience here), so it’s not for everyone. I tested out a bunch of different online calculators, and found one that matched my results pretty closely. *Click Here* to go to my body fat calculator (you will need measuring tape).
           2)  Compare your results to the table below. This will tell you what range you are in. Remember, the amount of muscle you have is very key. You can look healthy at 15% or you can look anorexic…this depends on your activity level and how much you exercise. Pick a body fat percentage that you want to look like. I would say the average celebrity hovers around 19%. 

   Body Type according to Body Fat %
%Body Type
<10%On the verge of death
10-12% Skeletor appearance, anorexic, minimum amount of fat on which you can survive
12-17% This depends on the amount of muscle. Most professional athletes, female body builders, extreme fitness fanatics, etc. fall into this range, but girls on their way to skeletor status could be this ratio as well. Unless you are an athlete, this would be considered underweight.
17-22% Lean, thin but still healthy, most actresses fall in this range 19% is ideal. Achieving this range takes considerable work: working out atleast 3 times a week and cutting out carbs and sugar 90% of the time.
23-25% Average, fit and healthy, but less toned. This is very achievable with a good workout ethic and general healthy eating.
25-31% Average, slightly to moderately overweight, most of America falls into this range.
>32% Obese, dangerous to your health.

3)  Determine your lean muscle mass. Multiply your total body weight by “1 – body fat %”. For example, my lean muscle mass is 122*(1 – 0.23) = 94 lbs. This means that 94 lbs of my body is composed of everything but fat: organs, bones, muscle, etc. It also means I have 122-94 = 28 lbs of fat on me.
4) Calculate your goal weight. Take your lean muscle mass and divide it by “1 – ideal body fat %”. For me, this turns out to be: 94/(1 - .19) = 116 lbs.
5) Check to make sure this weight is ideal. Compare it to the following chart that takes body frame into account: Range of Body Weight . At 5’4 with a small frame, my goal is within the range of where I should be. If you don’t know your body frame, you can measure it according to: Body Frame Calculator
      Keep in mind, that as you work out, your muscle mass may change so you may need to adjust your goals accordingly. Email me with any questions you might have regarding these formulas or help with estimating your goal weight at 
      Again, these numbers are not going to be 100% accurate. I, to the disappointment of my mother, am not a doctor, so I can’t generate an exact formula or make any solid recommendations. However, it will give you a better idea of what your weight loss goals are before you start on the long and rocky road of dieting and committed exercise routines.

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