We’ve all seen the headlines: Nearly 70% of Americans are overweight or obese, with one-third of the population falling into the obese category. There is no single ideal target weight to aim for, however. The Body Mass Index, or BMI, has proven a helpful tool in calculating a height to weight ratio and coming up with some general guidelines on what it means to be Normal, Overweight, and Obese.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has created a very useful set of tools to help you calculate your BMI, and take steps to get on track with your new weight loss program. First, find your BMI number. Then look up where it falls in terms of the weight ranges listed on the page. Obese is generally agreed to be a BMI of 30 or more.
Look at your weight and height.
If you fall into the overweight or obese categories, look at the tables at the site to see what is considered normal weight for your height. Choose a target number to aim for, and then calculate how many pounds you need to lose to reach that target.
Use the range of information and interactive tools at the site to help develop a sensible eating plan that can help you slim down to your target weight within a reasonable amount of time. Safe weight loss is usually considered to be 1 to 2 pounds a week.
Once you have your target weight and your estimated time frame for reaching it, it is time to look at good nutrition while you lose weight. Most meal plans will encourage you to boost your fruits and vegetables and cut back on processed foods. A good nutritional database can help you understand which foods are healthiest, and which should be avoided.
Small changes can change a lot.
If you love fried foods, switch to grilled. If you love sweets, try fruit instead. If you love canned soups, convenience foods from the supermarket freezer, or eating out, look up ‘copycat’ recipes online. They can give you the same taste sensation and nutrition from the food, for far fewer empty calories and chemicals.
Stay hydrated to help you feel fuller throughout the day. Fruits and veggies will not only add essential nutrients to your diet, but fiber and liquid as well, which will also help you feel fuller faster and for longer.
Look at your own eating habits as well. Do you tend to skip breakfast and then gorge when you finally do eat? Do you have a light dinner because you are trying to slim down, but then snack in front of the TV? Eating small regular meals with protein and some fat can help curb any out of control cravings and keep you feeling full.
Finally, never skip meals; this can damage your metabolism and actually make it even harder to lose weight. Your food is your fuel to help power you through the day. Keep your tank full with high-quality fuel and see how easy it can be to shed the weight in a healthy way.