In the clinical nutrition world, we have an equation used to calculate a person’s “ideal body weight”. The reason it was developed was to determine proper dosages of medications to administer to patients – because medications work differently in fat versus muscle. The term doesn’t actually specific the “ideal” weight you should be at – it specifies the approximate amount of lean body mass you have, based on your height. That’s it.
It is well established in research that BMI charts have very very little impact on mortality, but yet we still use BMI to determine a person’s health. Just like BMI, ideal body weight gets drug into that “fat is bad” conversation. We have very limited evidence on this though. So what IS your ideal body weight, if these equations aren’t telling us much about our health?
Your ideal body weight is the weight you can maintain without having to worry about your weight.
Your body does not know what society deems an acceptable weight. It does not care what your mind wants you to weigh. It has no interest in what your doctor or dietitian wants you to weigh. Your ideal body weight is synonymous with your set point weight. Each and every one of us have our own unique set point weight. side note: how cool is it that all of us have unique body shapes that make us so unique? Your set point weight falls within a range that your body biologically wants to be at. We can try to fight this all we want, but our genetics are set up to keep us within a certain range.
Sure our dietary habits and movement levels can influence where you fall within this range. For most people, it can range anywhere from 5-15 pounds. But once we fall out of that, our body works really hard to get us back in place. Have you ever gone on a diet and felt super lethargic? Yep, that’s your brain slowing your metabolism to get you back in range. Or ate some larger meals one day (hi Thanksgiving coming up!), and noticed that you weren’t super hungry the next day? That’s your body doing it’s job. How cool that our bodies and brains are so smart.
Your ideal body weight cannot be determined by a simple calculator. Your ideal weight is the weight you can live without worrying about your weight. You can eat fast food or vegetables or hamburgers or whatever, knowing that it’s not going to influence your weight.
So how do you know if you’re at your ideal weight?
Here are a few statements that might resonate with you if you’re at your ideal weight:
- I eat food that is satisfying to me.
- I generally eat according to my hunger and fullness cues.
- I eat food for the purpose of feeling good, not to influence my body shape.
- I don’t diet.
- I don’t fear any food.
- I enjoy a wide variety of food.
- I cope with my emotions without using food.
- There are things that interest me more than food.
- I don’t let the number on the scale influence how I eat.
- I utilize internal signal of how to eat, rather than allowing someone/something to tell me how or what to eat.
- I invest more of my tine into my life, rather than what’s on my plate.
- I don’t body shame.
- I understand and appreciate that my body is a tool, not an ornament.
Do any of these resonate with you? If not, that’s what a non-diet dietitian or therapist is for! Let’s talk and discover how to help you get there.