In the Habits of Health Transformational System, we make a key distinction around our weight: Our ultimate goal is weight management, not just weight loss.
That may sound like a small difference, but it’s significant. The idea of weight loss treats a healthy weight as a singular destination, and that’s part of why so many people who lose weight put the pounds back on later. If your singular focus is losing weight, you don’t prepare your mind and your lifestyle for thriving at a healthy weight.
Rather than thinking of your goal weight as a finish line, you should think of it as a process. The engine in your car, for example, needs consistent care and upkeep to perform at its best. When we make the investment to regularly service an engine and to be mindful of how hard we treat our transmission, the car will last longer and go farther.
Our bodies are similar. You don’t stop taking care of a car after an oil change. It’s one part of an ongoing, consistent process.
And so, we should think about our weight with the same mindset. Whether you’re losing weight or setting yourself up for optimal wellbeing, you will use three tools to monitor your weight:
- Body Mass Index
- Waist Circumference
- Body Fat Percentage
Body Mass Index
This is the gold standard because of its simplicity. When combined with your waist circumference, it provides an accurate assessment of whether you are at a healthy weight. There’s a chart on page 155 of Your LifeBook for you to reference, and this online card from OPTAVIA is also helpful.
Recently, we’ve received a few emails about how BMI calculations may need to take into account specific health differences, such as additional muscle mass. While it’s true that there are factors that may skew your exact healthy weight, this tool is relevant for the majority of readers.
This allows us to evaluate the visceral or organ fat accumulation and it is a very good indicator if your extra fat poses a health challenge. Page 156 of Your LifeBook has instructions on how to properly measure, but remember that a waist circumference over 37 inches for men and over 31.5 inches for women is associated with increased health risks, making this a really helpful tool in our journey toward longevity.
Body Fat Percentage (Optional)
Tracking body fat (if you have an accurate source available) can offer a third source of measurement to assess your current weight management. It also helps you to see that you are losing fat and not muscle. Our Habits of Health programs are designed to minimize muscle loss, but this is still an important factor to track as muscle mass unlocks dozens of health benefits, especially as we age. There are a few options for measuring your body fat, so talk to your health care provider or reference page 157 in Your LifeBook for more ideas.
Like your weight, you don’t need to check these measurements each day, but they should become a regular part of your routine overall. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to your health coach!