Learning about my real ideal weight was the biggest surprise this year. It wasn’t just a surprise – it was a massive revelation that changed everything.
My Ideal Weight Back-story
Like pretty much any woman in the developed world, I have had a rocky relationship with my physical form. Pretty much forever. I hit puberty early. I was in third grade. Suddenly I had hips and boobs while my classmates were still tiny. By 5th grade, I was standing around with the other “fat” girls at recess. My extended family is very weight and health conscious too, so it wasn’t much fun.
My mom did her best to help me have a healthy body image. She showed me many magazine articles talking about how the images of women were completely inaccurate. She pointed out that my measurements (at age 12) matched Marilyn Monroe’s. She talked about how my ancestors were large people and the average American woman wore a size 14 (my pants size at the time). Enough of it stuck to keep me from becoming a basket-case, yet I still hated my body (except my boobs – big boobs are always a good thing!).
My Evolving Ideal Weight Journey
As a college student, I continued to devour articles criticizing the popular messages about body size. I claimed my identity as a feminist, and I pursued a women’s studies certificate in grad school. I believe feeling good about our bodies and the space we occupy is a hugely important and feminist issue. This belief inspired me to keep hammering away at my own toxic relationship with my physical form.
Over the years the journey took interesting turns. I took a mindfulness based eating class, where I learned I could trust my own body to know when I was full. I learned I take big bites of food because it helps me taste things better and that’s okay. I attended a Plus-Size Burlesque show and watched women my size and larger get naked on stage. I started practicing yoga and appreciated all the different bodies moving in unison, instead of picking apart each person’s body and comparing it to mine. I gave up dieting. I bought clothes that fit and flattered.
Yet I was still nagged by the health side of the obesity war. Loving and accepting my body is more important than any particular weight. However I also want to live a long and healthy life. The only target I had for an “ideal weight” was the BMI chart. I knew it had been widely discredited. One of my own physicians when I was a teenager told me to ignore it or add at least 10 pounds to the maximum weight. I still worried. My first employer gave insurance premium discounts based on a variety of health factors. I missed out on half the discount because I was “obese.” I was furious — and worried.
Surprise! My Ideal Weight Reality
I had accepted the health at every size definition of fitness. Basically the idea is that as long as your body doesn’t stop you from doing the things you want to do, then you are healthy. This spring I realized I wasn’t healthy by this standard anymore either. I became determined to find a way back to what I considered healthy and normal for my body. A few months later this led me to Arin and Tony Lindauer and their gym, Transformation Fitness and Wellness.
Arin and I completed my first assessment, and I signed up for the 4 Week Skinny Jean Challenge. We bonded over the importance of measuring health by many things (not just a number on the scale) and the value of real food. Later I got my assessment results, which included an interesting number: 130. My lean body mass. I decided to see if there was a way to use this number to get an individualized idea of what my ideal weight might be.
urns out there is an awesome Ideal Body Weight Formula that will do exactly that. My results stunned me. They still stun me. I keep wondering if there’s a trick. And I keep telling everyone who will listen about it. Based on applying the formula, I learned I NEVER HAD A WEIGHT PROBLEM. Until the past few years, I had ALWAYS weighed a perfectly healthy weight for my body. Always.
So do yourself a favor. Find a place like Transformation or NIFS that will do a real body weight assessment for you. Learn what your lean body mass really is. Then use this equation to learn what your healthy ideal weight really is:
Lean Body Mass/(1 – Desired Body Fat Percentage)
where Lean Body Mass (LBM) = Your Body Weight – (Your Body Weight x Your Current Body Fat Percentage)
You can learn more about the formula and healthy body fat percentages here.