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What is the healthiest weight to be?
There is no one size fits all healthiest weight. Many people throw out some numbers that they have had parroted to them, but there is often very little science behind it. For example, some people will tell you that so long as you are below the average weight of the country you are a good, healthy, weight. If you are in the USA and are a man, then statistically there is almost a 40% chance that you are obese.
The reason this statistic is important is it demonstrates why just being "below average" is such a falsified idea. The average weight for a man in the USA is about 197 pounds. The criteria for being classed as obese is 203 pounds for that same person. This means if you are the average, you are bordering on obese. The stats for women are not quite as glaring, but still not great. Women are expected to weigh less than men as they are generally smaller, this makes their stats less glaringly problematic. At least on average.
What weight is considered healthy varies from country to country. And in some cases even from state to state. A good example of this is the different criteria you need to meet to be considered obese. In many European countries, you would be considered obese, even if you felt you were simply overweight. Many people have pondered whether the US intentionally raised the bar so they could report lower obesity rates. Which would be disappointing to hear. Especially when you consider the US is by far the most overweight country in the world. And it isn't close. Europe and Oceania follow it somewhat, but the difference is pretty glaring. A good reason is the wealth difference. The wealthier a country is, the "heavier" its populace tends to be. The only hard and fast rule for being over/underweight is by following the BMI as closely as possible. BMI is commonly referred to as the BMI index. Which is funny, because the I in BMI stands for Index.
What is the Body Mass Index?
Body Mass Index, or BMI, is an index chart that gives the user a good idea about what weight they should be. There are two indexes, one for men and one for women. The way it works is by using two axes. One lists heights and the other lists weight. The weights are color-coded to indicate being underweight, normal weight, overweight, obese, and severely overweight. It is very easy to use. Simply find your height, find your weight, and see how where you sit, Except, you don't use your weight directly. What you do use is the BMI for you to input into the graph. First, you input your weight and height, then it gives you a number to input into the chart. The reason being is that each height has its weight variance. The smallest person and the tallest person would have a hugely different idea of what ideal is. If you are five foot three and weigh 200 pounds you would be considered very overweight. If you are 6 foot 8 and weigh 200 pounds people would consider you dangerously underweight.
It can be quite hard to wrap your head around how the scale works without having one in front of you. Even then they tend to vary depending on who made the scale you are using. Some scales forgo the color gradient altogether and simply have your BMI number and weights listed in the same chart. I would recommend reading this webpage made by WebMD to get a good idea of what the scale is, how it works, and where you fit in on it. The webpage in question can be found here.
Why should women weigh less than men?
Should might be the wrong word. Women typically weigh less than men because they are far less muscular. At least, naturally muscular. Of course, a woman who works out and goes to the gym is going to be more muscular than a man who doesn't. The reason this affects weight is muscle weighs far more than fat does. Thus, men generally weigh more. Unfortunately for women, this also means men can eat more calories without gaining weight. It varies from person to person but a man could eat anywhere between 5%-25% more calories per day than a woman of equal height and weight. This isn't fair precisely, but that's the way it tends to go. Additionally, women's bodies are designed to store more fat. There are a few reasons for this, one, traditionally women would stay home and care for the children while the man was out hunting. She must have enough fat stored to keep her going until the man returns with food. Furthermore, women needed the extra fat for energy when they were pregnant to ensure a happy, healthy, baby was on the way. These are outdated roles that no longer apply to women quite the same. But, you can't argue with evolution.
What are some problems with being overweight?
Being overweight is one of the leading factors in getting problems later in life such as heart disease, diabetes, and even dementia. Being obese puts a strain on your muscle and joints. This strain may not be apparent to you all the time, but it is there. The biggest strain is on your heart. Pumping blood around such a big body is hard. Especially when the arteries are clogged and the person is just generally unwell. Being overweight can also lead to depression. This is in part feeling sad about the way you look and feel, and the absence of exercise. Exercising makes you feel good, mentally, even if you don't feel great physically. Most severely overweight people don't exercise. Diabetes is an issue with how your body breaks down and processes sugar. Diabetes can severely limit your diet and has major complications for those who don't treat their disease with respect. Diabetics who don't change their diet regularly end up needing to get a limb amputated.
What are some problems with being underweight?
Just as there are problems with being overweight, there are problems with being underweight. Being underweight generally means your body isn't getting enough energy to function. You are not providing enough calories for your body to perform its regular functions. This can lead to organ failure or general lethargicness. Feeling tired, anxious, and constantly irritable are all your body's way of telling you that something isn't right. Being underweight might sound like a non-issue to a lot of people. After all, eating food is easy, right? We do it all the time. That isn't the case for everyone. Some people struggle to eat for one reason or another. Being underweight is more often a symptom of a psychological issue. The same cant be said for being overweight, at least not in the same regard. Our bodies naturally want us to eat as much food as we can. Our body sees fat as a good safety net. There are no real natural reasons to starve yourself on purpose.
Why can't I lose weight?
Losing weight isn't easy. For most people, it is an absolute nightmare. The main reason people generally can't lose weight is they have a fundamental misunderstanding about how we gain and lose weight. In our minds, there are pretty much two food groups. Healthy food, and unhealthy food. These are not the nutritional groups, they are more a reflection of how we interpret our meals. Pizza? Unhealthy. Salad? Healthy. Simple. Except, it isn't. The actual value we should assign food is calories. Your body needs X amount of calories each day to maintain your weight. If you eat less than X calories you'll lose weight. If you eat more than X calories, you'll gain weight.
So, while eating healthy is generally good for health benefits, it doesn't particularly help you lose weight. Don't get me wrong, some foods (like lemons and coffee) are great for helping you burn more calories. But, they don't particularly affect weight loss. If you reduce your calorie intake you will lose weight. That's just science. There is no such thing as being "big-boned" and being unable to lose weight. You just aren't trying hard enough. If you find that cutting down on calories is too hard, the alternative is to exercise. Exercising burns calories. Meaning you can eat the same as you were before and still lose weight. While, yes, eating salads every meal will help you lose weight (because lettuce has almost no calorific value) you can pretty much eat whatever you want. So long as you eat the right amount of it.
Shouldn't I weigh what I want - it's my body?
To an extent, yes, you should feel free to look how you like and weigh what you want. No one can make you do anything otherwise. But, that is only on a personal moral level. I cannot tell you to lose weight because, say, I don't like the way you look. That is immoral and impolite. But, you should aim to be a healthy weight. Body confidence is great, you should feel good in your own body. But that doesn't mean your body feels good. You might be happier when you're eating what you want, when you want, in whatever quantity you want. You are not meant to be obese, it drastically shortens your life span and can make you far more uncomfortable than you realize. Most people who lose a lot of weight struggle to get over the fact they now feel happier. They just feel GOOD. That being said, do what you want. If you are trying to lose or gain weight for someone else you might be doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. So is it still the right thing to do? That's one for you to decide. Or, the philosophers.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what the "ideal" weight is. There isn't one! At least there isn't one for everyone. What is ideal for me might be terrible for you, and vice versa. Finding the right balance between the weight you want to be, the weight you are, and the weight you should be is the best way to live a healthy lifestyle. If you were to write down those three numbers, add them up, divide by three. Well, there is a good goal for you to achieve. If you are struggling to gain or lose weight and you are truly, genuinely, trying your best. You're eating right, exercising, and doing all the right things. Then its time to speak to a doctor. You may have some kind of underlying health issue.