Is “Ideal Body Weight” important? What about the BMI?
I was not always the “Weight Loss Guru” who lost 140 pounds and kept it off for 30 years. Before I discovered how to succeed with permanent weight loss and wrote The Anderson Method, I was and out-of-control overeater for several decades, getting worse with each diet failure.
I’d have a moment of truth on a regular basis, usually after some health crisis. “This time I really mean it,” I’d say. “I gotta lose weight.” One time, as I approached age 30, I was in the doctor’s office on a follow-up to a “medical event” due to my weight. I was around 300 pounds after years of yo-yo dieting, and this serious health crisis in my late twenties really scared me. I was determined to change, I swore to the doctor.
“What weight do you think you should be?”, the doctor asked.
I thought for a moment and said “I’d be happy at 225”.
“No!”, he said. “You need to be under 185! 225 is way too much.” He handed me his dietician’s diet and sent me home feeling defeated even before I started.
Ignore people telling you what to weigh. Dismiss them. It’s not their body or their life. It’s none of their business!
That doctor was a jerk. And he weighed about 250 himself! He did me no favors discouraging me. Weighing 225 would have been a lot better than weighing 300. He might have helped if he had been encouraging. He discouraged me when I was open to change and set me back. I tried his dietician’s diet for about a day and gave up, like all the other times. I hated it, felt hopeless, and continued my unhealthy ways.
Sometime later, I learned how to succeed at permanent weight loss through principles he and his dietician knew nothing about. One of the important things I learned is that to be successful, you’ve got to work to be the weight you want to be, with foods and behavior patterns that you prefer, not someone else.
Pick a weight that you think you’d be happy with, and shoot for that. When you get there, you can decide if you want to lose more. That’s what I did, and it worked out fine.
You can become any weight you want to be, if it’s what YOU want.
You can’t lose weight to make someone else happy. You’ve got to do it for yourself. You’ve got to do it in ways you can live with.
I discovered methods to lose weight that are guaranteed to work when you learn and apply them, no if, ands or buts. They are based on the irrefutably reliable sciences of physiology and thermodynamics, and I discovered the psychotherapeutic techniques to make them possible to apply. Because I was doing it for myself, with my own chosen goals, foods, and eating patterns, I was able to muster the power to achieve them.
Don’t buy into “Ideal Body Weight” worship.
“Ideal body weight” was an idea cooked up by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company in 1943 and embraced by the medical community. You saw it on that chart at the doctor’s office. It had the height and weight listed, and the standards we were all held to. It was developed as a result of actuarial studies that determined at what weight we had the lowest morbidity and mortality, what the very healthiest weight was for our height and frame size. There were also simple formulas that more or less coincided with the correlations the Metlife statistics revealed, changing a bit here and there over the years. Roughly, they equated to: 1) For women: 100 pounds for the first 5 feet of height, plus 5 pounds per inch over 5 feet, and 2) For men- 106 pounds for the first 5 feet of height plus 6 pounds per inch over 5 feet.
You’ll notice (perhaps with horror, as I did) that these are really skinny weights! At 320 pounds, I could not even imagine myself at 180 or so. Most of my 5’4″ female clients are in shock when they hear they “should” weigh 120. They just about give up hope hearing that.
The reality is that you do not have to be the “Ideal Body Weight” to be healthy. Many people who are 20% or more above their IBW are perfectly healthy. Get to the weight you’d be happy with and then go to your doctor and find out what your bloodwork and vitals say. See what he or she says about your health at that weight. The heck with the ideal. Get to a happy weight. If the doctor says you need to lose more, ask why, and ask for the evidence that says it’s healthier. We know that real obesity, 150% of the IBW or more, is unhealthy, but the weight you’d be happy with? Where’s the proof that it is not OK?
How about BMI, the “Body Mass Index” that is used today?
The BMI is another measure that I can’t stand. The BMI chart says I’m overweight at 6′ and 184 lbs.! An insult! It says my 5’4″ client is overweight at 128 lbs.! What an outrage!
Honestly, do we need these charts to tell if we need to lose weight? To be healthier? To be happier? I don’t think so.
Forget thinking you need to be at the weight the charts say. The heck with them. Just think about the weight you’d like to be, what weight you’d be happy with. Follow me, and you’ll get there. Then you can decide if you want to lose more weight. That’s what I did. With the right approach, using real science, reaching a healthy happy weight and maintaining it is absolutely possible, even enjoyable!