If you’ve been trying to get healthier and ‘lose weight’, you have probably been tempted to count the grams and kilos coming off, which is great for short-term goals. However, what you really should be doing is trying to lower your Body Mass Index, or BMI. There are a few reasons why working towards a healthy BMI should be your long-term goal, rather than losing a certain number of kilos. Want to know why? Read on to find out.
First up: What’s Body Mass Index?!
BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a standard of measurement used by health professionals to determine unhealthy and healthy weight ranges according to height. Rather than looking at pure numbers on a scale, BMI is a standardised measure set by the World Health Organisation.
Each person’s BMI is unique to their height. BMI scores take into account that a shorter person and a taller person might weigh the same but won’t necessarily fit the same clothes or have the same measurements. BMI scores also don’t dictate that all “healthy people” can only be between X and Y kgs.
BMI calculators take into account your height and your weight to give you an overall score and are divided into four main categories:
• BMI of under 18.5 is considered underweight
• BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered a normal weight
• BMI of between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight
• BMI of greater than 30 is considered obese.
Jenny Craig’s handy online BMI calculator tool lets you calculate your BMI yourself and kick-start your weight loss journey.
Heavier ≠ overweight
People come in all different heights and sizes. If you’re tall, you may well be heavier than your short-statured friend. But that doesn’t automatically mean you’re overweight. If you weigh 75 kg, for example, your BMI score will use your height to determine whether that weight is healthy and appropriate for your height. A shorter person who weighs 75 kg will have a higher BMI score than a taller person of the same weight.
BMI helps you track other health goals
If you’re trying to lose weight and get healthy, there are likely a number of reasons for this:
• To have more energy.
• To reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and other serious health conditions.
Simply aiming to lose 5/10/15 kgs might not help you reach these other health goals: after losing this weight you might still have a high BMI, depending on where you start.
BMI as a weight loss measurement allows you to combine your health goals with a target number. For instance, you might find that to reduce your risk of heart disease, you’ve got to drop X number of points. What that X represents depends on your current weight and your height.
Other things to keep in mind
Your age and life stage can make a difference to whether lowering your BMI is right for you. Tracking BMI is not appropriate for under 18s, who are still growing. It’s also not appropriate for pregnant people, who generally need to put on or maintain a higher weight for a healthy pregnancy.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you’re on a fitness and activity program, BMI calculators will not tell the full or true story as you put on muscle. Muscle is heavier than fat, and if you’re regularly working out and using weights, you will likely be losing fat and gaining muscle. This may lead to higher numbers on the scales.
In these cases, tracking your fitness goals only by weight and/or BMI could lead to confusion or unnecessary demoralisation. At this point in your health and wellness journey, other tools like waist circumference and seeing how clothes fit you are also useful. Jenny Craig Consultants are experienced at measuring and understanding BMI scores. They can help you set realistic goals with step-by-step exercise and meal plans.start your journey now