Are you obese? Overweight? Chubby? Big-boned? Hefty? Any way you put it, if these words apply, you probably are not at your most healthful weight.
Amazingly, our bodies come in so many shapes and sizes, it is not easy to tell if someone is at a healthy weight.
Body mass index, or BMI, is a measure that helps to indicate whether you are obese, overweight, underweight, or at a healthy weight for your height. To calculate your BMI, you need your height, weight, and for those younger than 20, your age and gender.
The trend in your BMI is more meaningful than a single BMI measurement. For someone like me, starting with a BMI of 32 (obese) four years ago, and now at 28 (overweight), I know this is a trend in a desirable direction. My eventual goal is to get to a BMI of 25, which indicates a normal weight.
It is never too late to make a move in the right direction. Go to cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing, then select “BMI – Body Mass Index” in the left-hand column to calculate your BMI.
Physical activity is a necessary part of your wellness goal. As with any new endeavor, it is best to ease into it slowly. Set some goals. Choose an activity that is fun. Figure out incentives and motivation, so you keep working toward your goal. Talk to your health care provider and seek his or her recommendation.
Do you admire one of your friends who recently made lifestyle changes? Chat with them and get some ideas. Whatever you choose, start slowly, build up you activity level, reward yourself, take pride in what you have accomplished, and let others know about your goal so that they can give you positive reinforcement.
Physical activity helps maintain your muscle tone, keeps you agile, prevents falls, and improves strength. Regular physical activity reduces the risk for depression, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and certain kinds of cancer. Getting and staying physically fit is a goal that takes a lifetime to nurture and can help nurture you for a lifetime. Get moving!
Healthful eating is easier than we imagine. It does not mean going on a “diet.” Make sure you prepare foods that you enjoy. But, “everything in moderation” is a great motto. Portion-controlled meals can help you achieve and maintain your healthier weight. Some people employ the “no second servings” rule to help their weight goals.
Planning meals and sitting down to eat with your family often helps.
What will it take to make you successful?
The bottom line is: It takes 3,500 calories to make a pound. A gradual change, such as reducing your daily calories by 100, can help you lose 10 pounds a year. Two hundred calories less each day equals 20 pounds, and so on. The strategy is to make changes slowly and to make adjustments that you are likely to continue so this becomes a lifelong path to wellness.
Make a move toward a healthier weight. Join the physical activity movement. Make the move to improve your nutrition. Join the movement for a healthier you. Have a healthier you in 2012.
Dr. Diana T. Yu is the Health Officer for Thurston and Mason counties. Reach her at 360-867-2501 and firstname.lastname@example.org.