Most of us have heard it before – when it comes to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, it’s all about balance. While this is most certainly true, what is a healthy weight and what does balance actually mean?
The answers to these questions vary for every person. But there are some guiding principles that can help us all find our balance.
First, it’s important to know why a healthy weight is so important. Maintaining proper weight balance is needed to promote good health and quality of life. A healthy weight decreases the chance of developing many health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease, metabolic syndrome, and certain cancers.
By reaching and maintaining a healthy weight, you can prevent and control many health conditions, while providing more energy to enjoy life.
So, what are some habits we can practice to help us achieve and maintain a healthy weight?
Healthy habits that can kickstart change
Eat the right foods
Eating a variety of healthy foods can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of developing chronic health conditions. Complex carbohydrates: Include healthy starches and fibers, which occur in whole-grain products (such as whole wheat, rye, and barley grains and pastas), fruits (such as apples and berries), and starchy vegetables (such as beans, corn, and sweet potatoes). Complex carbohydrates and non-starchy vegetables (such as broccoli and green beans) are also full of fiber, prebiotics, and polyphenols – antioxidants with many health benefits. High Fiber: Getting the recommended 25-35 grams of fiber each day is important for your health, helps keep you regular, and can help you manage your weight. Protein: Choose lean meats like seafood and poultry. Use lean cooking methods such as baking, broiling and grilling. Fats: Add healthy fats such as nuts, nut butters, seeds, olives, avocados, tahini, and olive oil or other plant oils in your daily meals.
Increase physical activity
Try daily activities that you enjoy and new activities that spark your interest. Mix up your routine throughout the week to keep it fun!
Create healthy sleep patterns
Lack of sleep changes hormones that increase our appetite and decrease the feeling of fullness. Bedtime routines can help you to wind down, ease into sleep and feel well rested.
Cortisol is a hormone that is associated with stress. It is also a significant appetite stimulant. Prioritizing tasks can help ensure you are spending time and energy on what is most important.
How do I know what my healthy weight is?
To help you determine what your personal healthy weight is, there are two helpful metrics:
- Your BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a calculation based upon a person’s height and weight. It provides an estimate of total body fat as a proportion of total body weight and the risk of developing weight-related diseases. If you’re curious about your own BMI, you can use this calculator to help you find it!
- Waist circumference can be a better estimate of visceral fat, the dangerous internal fat that coats the abdominal organs. Carrying excess body fat around your middle is more of a health risk than if weight is on your hips and thighs. To measure your waist circumference accurately, place a tape measure directly on your skin halfway between your lowest rib and the top of your hipbone. Keep it snug, but not squeezing the skin. Breathe out normally and measure. Lower risk waist circumference • Most men: 40 inches or less • Most women: 35 inches or less
But the most important tool to your success is finding what’s right for you. Focus on what you can do to manage your weight by making small, attainable changes each day.
Focus on what you can do to manage your weight by making small, attainable changes each day.
If you have more questions about what a healthy weight means for you, talk to your provider to discuss your current habits and areas for improvement! In the meantime, here are some additional tools we recommend to help your journey: