Healthy Weight

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Carrying excess weight is a known health risk. Excess weight increases the heart's workload and can raise your chances of getting a number of serious medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, adult-onset diabetes, and certain forms of cancer. It also can adversely affect your self-image and make it difficult to exercise. But how can you find out what is your ideal weight?

A healthy weight is actually a range of weight related to your height, but the number of pounds you register on your bathroom scale doesn't tell the whole story. Your body composition—the percentage of your body that is made up of lean tissue, composed mainly of muscle and bone, or fat—also is important. Your body composition is partly determined by your genetic makeup and partly by your activity level. The more fat you have in relation to lean tissue, the less healthy you are, but it is somewhat difficult to measure how much of your weight is made up of fat. The best way to judge the percentage of body fat that you carry may be by looking at how active you are. The more physically active you are, the less body fat you are likely to carry. One easy way to assess your weight and whether it puts you at risk for health problems is to consult a table that gives you your body mass index (BMI) (see page 18).

Healthy Man

18 If your weight falls outside the upper end of the range for your height, you

The may be moderately or severely overweight. Obesity (weighing more than 20

percent over the upper ideal weight range for your height) contributes to the development of diabetes, heart disease, and gallbladder disease. Obesity also complicates the treatment of and lowers the chances of survival of people with stroke, kidney disease, and numerous other disorders. Although the idea that obesity results from a lack of willpower is outdated, doctors are still unsure exactly why some people are overweight while others are not. Losing weight and keeping it off for life can be extremely difficult, but you can control your weight if your motivation stays high.

Where on your body you carry excess weight also is important. Most men store excess fat weight around their waists and abdomens, putting them at higher risk for early heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes than people (mainly women) who carry excess weight predominantly in the hips, buttocks, and thighs. You can determine your waist-to-hip ratio by first measuring your waist at its narrowest point and then measuring your hips at their widest point. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. If the number is 1.0, or close to it, you are a typical "apple-shaped" man. If the number is a lot less than 1.0, you are "pear-shaped" and have less risk of future health problems. Where your body stores fat is largely an inherited tendency, although strenuous exercise has been shown to reduce body fat in general and fat stored at the abdomen in particular.

Doctors no longer believe that, as you age, it's acceptable to gain up to 10 pounds over your normal weight when you were younger. Any additional weight over the accepted range for your height is now known to be a health risk, and the more you gain, the bigger your risk. So maintain your weight within the range that is normal for you and you'll be better off in the long run (see weight chart on page 69).

The Body Mass Index

The body mass index (BMI) is a helpful tool for gauging whether your body weight falls in the healthful range or puts you at risk for future health problems. You can figure out your own BMI using the following formula:

1. Convert your weight to kilograms (1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds). For example, if you weigh 198 pounds, divide 198 by 2.2 to get 90 kilograms.

2. Convert your height to meters (1 meter = 39.37 inches). If you are 6 feet tall (72 inches), divide 72 inches by 39.37 to get 1.83 meters.

3. Divide your weight by your height squared to calculate your BMI. Divide 90 kilograms by 1.83 squared (1.83 x 1.83 = 3.35; 90 - 3.35 = 26.9) to get a BMI of 27.

Then consult the following chart to see your risk for health problems.

Weight-Related Health Status

Underweight Healthy weight Overweight Obese

With a BMI of 27, you are overweight. Talk to your doctor about starting a diet and exercise program to help you lose the excess weight.

It's even simpler to consult the following table to find out your BMI. Find your height in the left-hand column and move across the row to your weight. The number at the top of the column is your BMI.

A Healthy Weight

Body Mass Index Table

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

35

Height (inches)

Body Weight (pounds)

58

91

96

100

105

110

115

119

124

129

134

138

143

148

153

158

162

167

59

94

99

104

109

114

119

124

128

133

138

143

148

153

158

163

168

173

60

97

102

107

112

118

123

128

133

138

143

148

153

158

163

168

174

179

61

100

106

111

116

122

127

132

137

143

148

153

158

164

169

174

180

185

62

104

109

115

120

126

131

136

142

147

153

158

164

169

175

180

186

191

63

107

113

118

124

130

135

141

146

152

158

163

169

175

180

186

191

197

64

110

116

122

128

134

140

145

151

157

163

169

174

180

186

192

197

204

65

114

120

126

132

138

144

150

156

162

168

174

180

186

192

198

204

210

66

118

124

130

136

142

148

155

161

167

173

179

186

192

198

204

210

216

67

121

127

134

140

146

153

159

166

172

178

185

191

198

204

211

217

223

68

125

131

138

144

151

158

164

171

177

184

190

197

203

210

216

223

230

69

128

135

142

149

155

162

169

176

182

189

196

203

209

216

223

230

236

70

132

139

146

153

160

167

174

181

188

195

202

209

216

222

229

236

243

71

136

143

150

157

165

172

179

186

193

200

208

215

222

229

236

243

250

72

140

147

154

162

169

177

184

191

199

206

213

221

228

235

242

250

258

73

144

151

159

166

174

182

189

197

204

212

219

227

235

242

250

257

265

74

148

155

163

171

179

186

194

202

210

218

225

233

241

249

256

264

272

75

152

160

168

176

184

192

200

208

216

224

232

240

248

256

264

272

279

76

156

164

172

180

189

197

205

213

221

230

238

246

254

263

271

279

287

20 Tips for Dieting

Healthy Man

If you have a weight problem, you can find many programs to help you lose extra pounds, but the only proven method to lose weight and keep it off is to eat less and become more active. A calorie- and fat-restricted diet that follows the Food Guide Pyramid (see page 5) recommendations, combined with a regular exercise program, will help you reach your target weight range safely. You should realistically aim to shed only 1 to 21/2 pounds per week by consuming about 500 calories less per day than usual. During your weight-loss regimen, periods may occur during which you may not lose any weight at all, but don't get discouraged. This is normal. The pounds will start to come off again in a week or two.

Avoid crash or fad diets because they may not provide all the nutrients you need, and extreme diets can be harmful to your health. Even worse, such diets often do not work over the long term. Here are some suggestions that can help you lose weight successfully:

• Don't skip meals, including breakfast, because you will be tempted to eat more later in the day.

• Keep a diary of your food intake before and after you begin your diet, so you can compare the difference and make sure you are getting enough nutrients.

• Start an exercise log so that, as you build stamina and endurance, you can see your progress and stay motivated.

• Don't consume fewer than 1,400 calories a day, to make sure you get all the nutrients you need.

• Cut back on fat by buying low-fat substitutes for mayonnaise and other higher-fat foods. Trim fat from meat. Drink 1 percent or fat-free milk.

• Reduce your intake of sugar by having fresh fruit or yogurt for dessert.

• Experiment with herbs and spices to add flavor to food and to make up for less sugar, salt, and fat.

• Ask your family to support your diet and exercise program by encouraging you or participating with you.

How Exercise Helps You Lose Weight

Reducing your intake of food is only half of the weight-loss equation. The other half is becoming more physically active. To lose 1 pound, you have to burn 3,500 calories. Exercise burns calories quickly, helping you shed those excess pounds even faster. Physical exercise builds muscle and lean body mass (see The Body Mass Index, page 18). Having more muscle gives you a higher metabolism (the process in your cells that produces energy), so you naturally burn more calories, even when you are at rest. Your metabolism stays especially high for several hours after you exercise, meaning that your body burns additional calories after you are physically active. Regular exercise also can suppress your appetite, so you don't feel like eating as much as usual. The following table lists various types of sustained physical activity. Each of these activities, which vary in time and level of intensity, can help you burn an additional 100 to 200 calories per day.

A Healthy Weight

Comparing Types of Physical Activity

Washing and waxing car for 45 to 60 minutes

Washing windows or floors for 45 to 60 minutes

Playing volleyball for 45 minutes

Playing touch football for 30 to 45 minutes

Gardening for 30 to 45 minutes

Wheeling self in wheelchair for 30 to 40 minutes

Walking 13/4 miles for 35 minutes (20 minutes per mile)

Shooting baskets for 30 minutes

Bicycling 5 miles in 30 minutes

Dancing fast for 30 minutes

Pushing a stroller 1V2 miles in 30 minutes

Raking leaves for 30 minutes

Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes (15 minutes per mile)

Doing water aerobics for 30 minutes

Swimming laps for 20 minutes

Playing wheelchair basketball for 20 minutes

Playing a game of basketball for 15 to 20 minutes

Bicycling 4 miles in 15 minutes

Jumping rope for 15 minutes

Running 1V2 miles in 15 minutes (10 minutes per mile)

Stair climbing for 15 minutes

Less vigorous, more time

More vigorous, less time

Choose an activity you enjoy or one you regularly perform. Start slowly, and gradually increase the intensity of your workout. You may want to begin by walking for 30 minutes 3 days per week. Then gradually work your way up to 45 minutes of walking 5 days per week. Your goal should be to exercise for at least 30 minutes or more most (if not all) days of the week. You can do your exercise all at one time or in shorter segments throughout the day. Eventually, as you become more physically fit, you may be able to participate in more vigorous activities for longer periods of time. But don't expect miracles to happen right away. Focus on the realistic goal of losing 1 to 21/2 pounds per week. Remember that you are not just trying to lose weight, you also want to keep it off. After you have reached your weight-loss target, continue to exercise regularly to keep the pounds off.

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