Author Topic: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?  (Read 4688 times)

Exhale

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How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« on: February 14, 2015, 10:29:40 AM »
Hello All,

After losing five lbs since Jan (in addition to the 20lbs lost since Nov), my weigh loss has stopped. There has been no change to activity/calorie intake, etc. However, according to my height/age/gender, I'm supposed to lose another 10-20 lbs.

Here's the strange thing, my clothing size continues to drop (was a size 14 in Nov, now a size 6 in Feb). So, perhaps I'm building muscle (heavy, but lean) and, therefore, my body weight may no longer be a helpful indicator of fitness for me? Perhaps clothing size is more accurate?

Have others had this experience? If so, how do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?

Thanks for the help!

Rezdent

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2015, 11:00:52 AM »

I used to lift heavy and eat a fair amount of protein.   
I was in great "shape" but my doctor always felt compelled to mention that I was overweight according to the charts...bullshit.  I was at 19% bodyfat.
Then I switched to a vegan diet.  The first month I lost 11 pounds and my body fat percentage went from 19% to 27%.  My clothes got tighter.  I lost muscle and was actually fatter but the scale showed weight loss.  Ug.  I bailed on being vegan but haven't regained all the muscle back yet.

So now I put very little trust in weight as an indicator of health or fitness.
As long as I am seeing progress - more muscle, looser clothes, feeling better, then I am on track.  I don't weigh myself more than once a month.
I also know that for me, the popular Dr.-approved charts are off by at least 4 pounds.

Props to you for losing the fat.  Keep going!  These are exciting changes that you are seeing.

mm1970

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2015, 11:18:18 AM »
Eh, I wing it, and just see how I feel.

Last year I lost 26 lbs.  Dropped from a 16 to a 14.  Then the 14s got loose.  Before I went out to buy more clothes, I dug out my pre-pregnancy pants. I expected them to be tight because I was still 8-10 lbs overweight.

And they fit (8-10s).  But the shirts are too tight, so my upper body is broader.

So anyway, I'd love to lose another 6 lbs to no longer be "overweight" by BMI charts, but my pants fit and I feel pretty good, so I'm not going to stress over it.

I look decent (could still use a few pounds)
I'm reasonably fit (cardio wise and muscle wise) - can do pushups, burpees, squats, etc.
My clothing fits
My BP is good

What else is there?

Retire-Canada

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2015, 12:06:05 PM »
Hello All,

After losing five lbs since Jan (in addition to the 20lbs lost since Nov), my weigh loss has stopped. There has been no change to activity/calorie intake, etc. However, according to my height/age/gender, I'm supposed to lose another 10-20 lbs.

Here's the strange thing, my clothing size continues to drop (was a size 14 in Nov, now a size 6 in Feb). So, perhaps I'm building muscle (heavy, but lean) and, therefore, my body weight may no longer be a helpful indicator of fitness for me? Perhaps clothing size is more accurate?

Have others had this experience? If so, how do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?

Thanks for the help!

I find body weight generally useless for evaluating my body composition which is what I really care about. I'm a guy so I gain/lose weight from my middle as a general rule. I just measure my waist and that tells the tale. I don't own a scale.

-- Vik

AllieVaulter

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2015, 12:17:50 PM »

I used to lift heavy and eat a fair amount of protein.   
I was in great "shape" but my doctor always felt compelled to mention that I was overweight according to the charts...bullshit.  I was at 19% bodyfat.

+1

People are very focused on BMI, but whether you're using a height weight table or the index, it's just a guideline for an "average" person.  I was a collegiate pole vaulter, competing at Nationals but according to my BMI, I was obese.  I'm sorry, but obese people can't pole vault.  Or climb ropes with their body in an L position.  Or compete with collegiate sprinters.  Or do 1,000 situps in one day.  BMI does not account for muscle. 

If you're working out hard, you'll need to use your judgement.  Things like body fat percentage would be a better indicator (but still tricky depending on the method you use).  I would actually use your own physical capabilities as a measure.  Set goals for your cardio (be able to run a 6 minute mile, or say 3 miles w/o stopping), strength (so many lunges, push ups, & sit ups), and flexibility (static stretching or something more dynamic like yoga) and use your progress towards those goals as your measure.  It's your body, what would you like it to be able to do?

Congratulations on making progress on your physical conditioning.  Keep up the good work!

Marian

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2015, 12:22:23 PM »
Personally, I don't worry about the number on the scale- it's all about how you feel and perform!  And don't always trust those charts etc. of how you're "supposed" to be... according to BMI measuring guidelines, it says I have ~30% body fat... No way that's true!  Women are generally more fatty, yes, but I'm a runner and a vegetarian, and people regularly guess my weight under what it really is (I attribute my "density" to muscle, haha). 

As long as you are feeling really good and the doctor deems you healthy (good cholesterol and blood pressure and all that jazz), don't worry about your weight!

On a related note, according to this study, the main thing you should be worrying about is getting regular exercise:

http://www.bbc.com/news/health-30812439

Sounds like you got that covered, though, so no worries!  Keep on that healthy lifestyle and don't worry about your weight!

caliq

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2015, 12:28:12 PM »
There are various ways to measure body fat, and I think that's the most accurate way to get a good numerical value for your "overall fitness."  But, there are significant differences in accuracy among the various testing methods.

Plus, as others have said, it's really best to go by how you're feeling.

And especially for women (which I am guessing you are based on the sizes you listed? I don't think guys use the same sizing scheme), the last 10ish pounds are always the hardest.  We are biologically supposed to carry more fat then men (not that this should be an excuse for being truly overweight, but just know that it's much harder for women to get to the super lean, ripply muscle stage that guys get to).  A good metric that I've always been told is that you really don't want to be overexercising/undereating to the point where it messes with menstruation.  I think there are possible fertility implications to that (not sure if that's even a concern for you).

I second whoever advocated for lifting/strength training.  That's often the push that helps get over that last bump. 

Kaydedid

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2015, 01:11:22 PM »
Clothing size is definitely more accurate - as previous posters have stated, weight doesn't account for body composition.

As for how much you're 'supposed ' to weigh, if it's based on BMI it's probably bullshit.  BMI is an actuarial tool, meant to be applied to entire populations.  For individuals,  it can be wildly inaccurate, especially if you're not of European descent.  Also, BMI ranges were adjusted downwards in 1998, so a fair amount of the obesity epidemic is due to new metrics, not people actually getting bigger.

We're also starting to see in study after study that behaviors like being active and eating well play a much larger role in health than weight.  In addition, we're also seeing that weight is often a symptom of underlying medical problems (insulin resistance,  thyroid issues,  eating disorders etc) and not a disease in itself. 

Health is a continuum--no one is perfectly healthy or unhealthy.  There is no perfect weight,  body composition etc.  It's definitely great to set goals for increased fitness and health,  especially behavioral goals, but realize that there is no end game.  Everything you do moves you closer towards the healthy or unhealthy end of the spectrum.  If it makes you feel better in the long run, go for it!

Also seconding the strength training.   Not only is it the best way to add muscle mass (and you won't get huge if you're female, you don't make enough testosterone), but it also strengthens your bones and helps prevent osteoporosis.

horsepoor

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2015, 01:33:45 PM »
I use belly fat and back of arm fat as my gauge, then use that as a guesstimate of how much fat I should lose in pounds. Totally unscientific, but there are certain markers for my bodyfat- e.g. the early warning bulges, that I've come to know and keep an eye on.  If you feel you should be leaner than you are currently, but might gain muscle at the same time, you could get a pair of bodyfat calipers and track your skinfold measurement, as well as waist circumference over time.

Zikoris

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2015, 01:42:24 PM »
I just focus on how I feel and my athletic performance. I'm a woman, 5'4 and around 155-160lbs, which for my proportions is a size 10-12, and feel great and healthy at this size. I don't know what my body fat percentage is, but I'm mostly soft and curvy. For food, I believe in making the highest quality food I can from scratch, avoiding low quality ingredients and processed food, and valuing taste and the overall meal experience as much as nutritional composition.

For fitness specifics, I like to be able to comfortably do hikes at a ratio of about an 800ft elevation gain per 5-6km. I also like to be able to go all-out for my entire 1.5 hour ballet classes and not have crappy technique at the end due to tiredness. Also be fit/strong enough to do any fun activities that come up, like climb a volcano during a trip to Guatemala. I don't do gyms or have any goals that involve reps or weights - I'm all about practical, real-life applications.

sol

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2015, 02:26:33 PM »
These sorts of questions always surprise me a little bit.  I think we all agree that the majority of Americans eat crappy food and don't get enough exercise.  Do you also eat crappy food and not get enough exercise?  Do you need a scale to tell you that?

I understand the desire to have a quantifiable metric.  We like things that can be measured and compared, and for that purpose BMI and body fat percentage are equivalently bogus.  It all depends on what kind of fitness you're looking for.  Ronnie Coleman can squat 800 pounds but I'd smoke him in a 10k foot race. 

If your primary purpose in getting fit is to look better, or fit into different clothes, then you should be using your mirror and your closet to tell you how well you're doing.  You can't put an easy number on how you look.


Exhale

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2015, 07:21:12 PM »
As long as I am seeing progress - more muscle, looser clothes, feeling better, then I am on track.  I don't weigh myself more than once a month.

Thank you Rezdent - it's helpful to hear that others are taking this approach. It certainly seems to be the best for me vs. losing a prescribed amount of weight (which may or may not be right for me).

Exhale

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #12 on: February 14, 2015, 07:24:54 PM »
I would actually use your own physical capabilities as a measure.  Set goals for your cardio (be able to run a 6 minute mile, or say 3 miles w/o stopping), strength (so many lunges, push ups, & sit ups), and flexibility (static stretching or something more dynamic like yoga) and use your progress towards those goals as your measure.  It's your body, what would you like it to be able to do?

I love this idea! Gives me a focus that is about strength and life long engagement with fitness. I'm going to plan this out tonight. Thank you!

Exhale

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2015, 07:30:29 PM »
These sorts of questions always surprise me a little bit.  I think we all agree that the majority of Americans eat crappy food and don't get enough exercise.  Do you also eat crappy food and not get enough exercise?  Do you need a scale to tell you that? I understand the desire to have a quantifiable metric.  We like things that can be measured and compared, and for that purpose BMI and body fat percentage are equivalently bogus.  It all depends on what kind of fitness you're looking for. If your primary purpose in getting fit is to look better, or fit into different clothes, then you should be using your mirror and your closet to tell you how well you're doing.  You can't put an easy number on how you look.

I don't eat crappy food and have always exercised. However due to health issues and a back injury, I gained significant weight. My doctor and I worked together to come up with rehabilitation plan. Once that was accomplished, we came up with a weight loss and fitness plan. However, I noticed the issues described in my OP and thought to ask this Forum for feedback. This all part of an, at-times less-than-clear, process of healing and getting healthy again.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2015, 07:49:46 PM by Exhale »

Exhale

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #14 on: February 14, 2015, 07:35:09 PM »
Women are generally more fatty...As long as you are feeling really good and the doctor deems you healthy (good cholesterol and blood pressure and all that jazz), don't worry about your weight!

I didn't know that about women being more fatty - thanks for the info. I like the idea of having assessing my health status by measuring my good cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. Also, I love exercising every day - it has so many benefits in addition to physical fitness. Good luck with your running!

Exhale

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2015, 07:39:23 PM »
the last 10ish pounds are always the hardest...I second whoever advocated for lifting/strength training.  That's often the push that helps get over that last bump.

Thank you for this reply, I'm realizing that the way women's bodies store/hold on to fat is likely to be a factor here.

Interesting that you mentioned the lifting/strength training since I found that, in order to lose my arm jiggles and upper body fat, I'll need to add some specific types of weight lifting (plus a few other exercises - push-ups, etc.). In fact, I started that routine today. We'll see what happens.

Exhale

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2015, 07:48:53 PM »
Kaydedid, thank you for the reminder about strength training as helping to prevent osteoporosis. Now I have yet another reason to do weights.

horsepoor, like you I think I'll start to recognize where my early warning areas are vs. a scale. (Of course, first I have to lose that back-of-arm fat!)

Zikoris, you nailed one of the greatest pleasures to getting fit ("I like to be able to comfortably do hikes"). I love that I can now handle hikes, stairs, etc., without pain and difficulty. Especially wonderful given that at this time last year I could barely make it half block to the bus stop.

Autodidact

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Re: How do you determine your healthy weight and/or fitness level?
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2015, 04:35:46 PM »
I go on how I feel.

I have weighed and measured ( and lost 40kg) but now I just make sure I still fit into my jeans and get lots of exercise. It's no life worrying about 1 lb here or there. And as you get lighter you naturally get more active.

Which is a moustachan thing anyway. I now buy all my groceries by bike. I hate biking. My bike is an old 'sit up and beg' with no gears my hubby restored for me. It is painted with hammerite because of the salt air. It has panniers, a rack and wicker basket. I can get a 10kg sack of potatoes on the rack. Because I hate biking I try not to have to shop!

But one gets exercise, and reduces impulse grocery shopping because you have to haul it home, so you think carefully about what you eat....and eat out the garden as much as possible ( what can I make with a handful of maori potatoes and lots of courgettes) so one doesn't have to get the bike out! And so one is not in the shop buying chocolate....

Congratulations on the weight loss! Isn't it wonderful to be able to do things you could never do before? I think I have a whole new appreciation on the world as a formerly obese person. I still get a ridiculous kick out of doing up my seat belt!