Did you notice that everyone is trying to lose weight, particularly people who really do not have any weight to lose? Everyone is trying to achieve some imaginary, self-imposed ideal weight. Mostly, our ideal weight depends on the photos of models and movie stars we see in magazines, or we just want to fit into the same pair of jeans we had in the high school. Realistic? Surely not. We are just setting ourselves for frustration. But what is really our ideal weight?
” ˜Official” ™ ideal weight can be measured, using one of many available formulas, taking into account our sex, age, height, weight and lean body mass. We can also use one of the charts available online which show us our ideal weight depending on our body type. We will come up with a figure and we will go crazy dieting and exercising trying to achieve it. We will be frustrated, often hungry, cranky and unhappy. But, what if we give ourselves another goal: to achieve healthy weight instead. It is often the weight we had at some point in our life and which we kept easily and without much effort. That is our natural weight, or what scientists call ” ˜set point.” ™
Set point depends on our genetics, our hormonal balance, our lifestyle, our nutritional habits and the level of physical activity we are used to. The weight we have at set point varies up to 20 percents, but we can maintain it naturally. That is our true ideal weight.
Of course, if we are obese, for one reason or another, losing weight is an imperative, since our health depends on it. The goal is usually to lose about ten percents of our body weight. Losing that makes huge difference in preventing Type II diabetes and the range of associated health problems and complications.
We might not be happy with our set point, but we have to remember that it is called ” ˜set point” ™ for a reason. Going below that weight is not natural for our body and will not be easy. We can change it by developing healthy habits instead of staring at the scale religiously. Healthy habits are much more useful than quick weight loss in order to reach our perceived ideal weight. Quick weight loss always creates havoc with out hormones, particularly those that control hunger and appetite, so our weight goes up and down like a yo-yo. By developing healthy habits we reach our goal slowly, keeping the system in balance. Slowly by surely, we can reach the set point that we can live with.
You do not need any lessons about healthy habits: regular meals, smaller portions, meals rich in vegetables, fruits and fiber, low fat meats, less carbohydrates, regular exercise (at least half hour a day). Once this new regime becomes a habit, you will not even notice that you are losing weight, but you will feel healthy, energetic and in good mood. Once you reach the new set point, losing more weight will mean making more changes in your healthy habits, and your best bet is increasing the amount of exercise.