I see this question pop up quite frequently in the MFP forums & I thought this article did a particular nice job so here you go! 🙂
(Photo Courtesy of Peter Dazeley / Getty Images)
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 69 percent of the population is overweight or obese in the U.S. While it’s easy to point fingers at this problem, figuring out what you should weigh — for a healthy heart, and reduced risk of stroke, diabetes, and osteoarthritis — isn’t itself that straightforward. “The ideal body-weight calculations that the medical community uses is unrealistic for a lot of people for all these different reasons,” says Marjorie Nolan Cohn, RD, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
How muscular a person is, bone density, where they carry weight, and genetics should all be figured into estimates of their ideal weight. But the most common measurement, Body Mass Index or BMI, doesn’t take any of this into account. While BMI is really easy to measure (just go to the government’s online calculator and plug in your height and weight), it doesn’t directly measure body fat or take account of bone and muscle.
“A lot of athletes just based on weight versus height versus age may show up in the obese category, but clearly they’re not obese,” says Nolan Cohn. So, is your BMI accurate? We put together an informal test to give a sense of how well that number matches reality for you.
If you’re obese (and not a serious athlete*), you should probably stop here and see your doctor.
2. Now, measure your hip-to-waist ratio.
Some experts actually put more stock into hip-to-waist ratio than BMI. This is because people who carry their weight in the middle are more likely to face adverse health problems, particularly cardiovascular issues.
To find your hip-to-waist ratio: Divide the circumference of the smallest part of your waist (usually above the belly button) by the largest area of your hips (probably over your butt).
If your ratio is less than 0.9, keep your score the same.
If it’s at 1.0 or higher, add 1 to your score.
3. Take your genes into account.
Arguing that someone is just naturally large tends to be met with disbelief, but there is no denying that genetics impact body composition. Yes, there are many people who carry more fat than they should for optimal health, but there are also people who are built to be larger. Nolan Cohn says she has a female client who was about 250 pounds who slimmed down to 170.
Based on this woman’s height, standard calculations would put her ideal weight around 130. “If her doctor didn’t know where she was, he’d tell here that she’s overweight now,“ says Nolan Cohn. However, this woman looks and feels great at her current weight and her blood work shows she is healthy. She is an example of someone who is structured differently than the average person.
Do you come from a big, healthy family? If so, subtract 1 from your score.
Are you much bigger than most of your family, or the same size but they have a fair amount of health problems? If either of these sound like you, add 1 to your score.
If you are skinny but come from a healthy, skinny family, add 1 to your score.
*4. How athletic are you?
The approximate healthy weight range for a 5’10” man spans from about 129 pounds (if he has a slim build) up to around 183 pounds (if he has a large build). However, a competitive bodybuilder will usually weigh around 210 pounds at this same height but may reach 270 pounds. He would be obese by BMI standards because it couldn’t account for the fact that he is carrying so much muscle and so little fat.
Sumo wrestlers, who weigh upwards of 400 pounds, often live long, healthy lives, according to published research. It’s a similar story for linebackers, many of whom weigh over 300 pounds. Not only are they active, much of their weight is muscle rather than fat. Although their BMI would show these men are obese or even morbidly obese, they can still be medically healthy.
Do you lift weights ever day or have some serious muscle? Subtract 1 from your score
Run a lot? Keep it the same.
Couch potato? Add 1.
5. Your Results
This test should be a practice that helps you understand the limitations of BMI and many factors that go into finding a healthy weight. In other words, do not make major health decisions based on this score. What the test should reveal is if you need to make life changes, and see your doctor in the process: If your final score is in the positive and you’re overweight (or near overweight) according to the BMI scale, you’re probably carrying more than is good for you — possibly a dangerous amount. If it’s negative and you’re underweight or near it, you should also be concerned as being underweight can also have severe health effects.
Get fitness secrets from the experts. (Photo: iStock/pixdeluxe)
In fitness (and in life) arming yourself with the best information available can help you conquer any goal – often in less time and with even better results than you imagined. And there’s no better resource for that advice than the health and fitness pros whose careers depend on getting people results. To help you reach your potential, we asked top experts to share the very best tips, mantras and motivation secrets they’ve learned along the way.
1. Forget About the “Fat-Burning Zone.” “Stop worrying about the exact percentage of fat you burn during exercise (i.e. staying in the ‘fat burning’ zone), and instead focus on the total calories burned from fat (which include the calories you burn after an intense strength session). To burn more fat over a 24-hour period (and not to mention, get in great shape), go as hard as you can, as long as you can.” – JC Santana, owner of the Institute of Human Performance (IHP) in Boca Raton, Florida.
2. Exercise in the Morning. “Has your busy schedule taken over your workout routine? Fit in fitness first thing. Research shows that people who work out first thing in the morning work out more often. Why? Because you’re less likely to make excuses when you get it done before something else can get in your way.” – Elizabeth Burwell Hendrix, co-owner of High Performance NYC training facility in Manhattan.
(Photo: iStock/Eva Katalin Kondoros)
3. Set a Hard Deadline. “Parkinson’s Law states that the perceived complexity of a task expands to fill the time you allot it. So if you don’t set hard deadlines and timelines, you’re not going to be as focused or productive as you could be. Instead of wasting time at the gym, create hard deadlines for your workouts: Estimate how long your session should take and enforce that you finish in that amount of time or less. Create a negative consequence for not sticking to it. Once you begin to create and enforce deadlines, the BS gets toned down and the results increase dramatically.” – John Romaniello, a New York City based coach, writer, and owner of Roman Fitness System.
4. Begin With the End in Mind. “Start with the end point of your specific goal in mind, and then work backwards to plan out your training program. That way, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to reach your goal, keeping you motivated and moving forward. For example, if you want to be able to run a marathon in 16 weeks, then in eight weeks your training program should build up to doing a half marathon, and in four weeks you should be able to do a 10K.” – Rachel Cosgrove, author of “The Female Body Breakthrough” and co-owner of Results Fitness.
5. Kick Up the Intensity. “A lot of people put the time into their workouts but completely fail when it comes to their intensity. Bottom line: If it doesn’t feel hard, it isn’t. Learning this drastically changed my fitness level and my ability to coach my students to new levels.” – Amy Dixon, an exercise physiologist in Los Angeles and star of “Breathless Body 2: The Edge” DVD.
6. Stick With the “Two-Day Rule.”
“Since I travel so much for work, I am sympathetic to how hotels and crazy schedules can foil your workouts. That’s why I stick to the two day rule: Never go more than two days in a row without a workout. It’s a game I play with myself, and I can’t lose. I have to do something, whether it’s getting outside for a run, using the hotel gym (no matter how gross), or doing a bodyweight workout in my hotel room – I just do it. And I haven’t broken the rule in as long as I can remember.” – Chris Freytag, a health and fitness expert for Prevention magazine, author, and national speaker.
7. Aim High But Stay Realistic.
“One thing my Olympic track coach used to say to me whenever I would hit a plateau was, ‘Rome was not built in a day.’ I find that even the most competitive and knowledgeable athletes set expectations that are often too high, and it’s natural to get disappointed when you set an expectation and fail. It’s good to have goals, just make sure those goals are smart, achievable ones.” – Samantha Clayton, former Olympic athlete, personal trainer, and corporate fitness consultant in Malibu, California.
8. Make an Emotional Connection. “Most people don’t truly enjoy exercise, but studies show that when you connect with something you like – whether it’s a personal trainer, group exercise instructor, fitness video, or piece of equipment- you make a positive emotional connection and are significantly more inclined to stick with that exercise routine. Find a way to create a positive emotional connection [to your workouts] to stay engaged and wanting to come back again and again.” – Linda LaRue, RN MEd, ATC, creator of the Core Transformer workout program.
9. Pump More Iron. “One of the best tips I can give to anyone who wants to change the shape of their body is to lift weights. Specifically, lift heavy weights and perform multi-joint exercises such as deadlifts, squats, and push presses. If your goal is to look toned and lose belly fat, combine 20 minutes of high-intensity cardio and 20 minutes of strength training for your workout – you’ll be finished in just 40 minutes and be in the best shape of your life.” – Marta Montenegro, an exercise physiologist and adjunct professor of exercise and sports sciences at Florida International University.
10. Make Time to Meditate. “Learn how to incorporate meditation into your daily routine, no matter how brief. So much of our suffering, pain, insecurities, and struggles are caused by a disconnection with ourselves and our source. Meditation costs nothing, requires nothing, and can be done anywhere. In order to change your body, you need to change your mind and the way it is hardwired.” – Jennifer Galardi, owner of LivWhole in New York City.
(Photo: iStock/Joachim Leroy)
11. Do What You Love.
“If you try something and it doesn’t work, try something else. If you’re injured, switch gears and focus on another aspect of your fitness until you heal. Never stop searching for the right workout and schedule until you create exactly what works for you. When you find it, don’t be swayed by fads, the opinion of others or even the experts. Doing what you love is the surest way to ensure you will be fit for life.” – Liz Neporent, a spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise and author of Fitness for Dummies, 4th edition.
(Photo: iStock/Jacob Ammentorp Lund)
12. Work More Muscles in Less Time.
“When it comes to exercise selection, focus on compound moves, not isolation exercises. A compound movement is something that engages every muscle in your body – such as pull-ups, pushups, or planks- whereas isolation exercises focus only on one muscle group. Compound movements will make you stronger, more explosive, and more toned than anything else.” – Tamal Dodge, an international yoga instructor and star of the “Element Yoga” DVD.
13. You Can’t Out-Train a Poor Diet.
“I am always amazed at how people sabotage all their incredible efforts in the gym by overeating junk and under-eating nutrient-rich foods. If you commit to a diet of clean food -mainly all colors of plants, lean quality proteins, good healthy fats, and grains like quinoa and amaranth – and limit processed food, fast food, sugar, super starchy grains, and trans fats, you can see tremendous results in your body.” – Suzanne Bowen, owner of Barre Amped in Nashville, TN.
You’ve heard it many times before: To maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and eat more fruits and vegetables.
But new research has found that when it comes to weight loss, not all fruits and vegetables are created equal.
A Harvard study of more than 133,000 people published in the journal PLOS Medicinefound that some starchy fruits and vegetables can actually make people gain weight over time.
For the study, researchers analyzed the changes that men and women in the U.S. made in their fruit and vegetable intake over 24 years, as reported in previously conducted dietary questionnaires and self-reported changes in weight. Scientists specifically analyzed several four-year periods for their findings.
What they discovered, after adjusting for changes in other lifestyle habits such as smoking and exercise: People who ate more fruits and several types of vegetables lost an average of half a pound over four years for each daily serving of fruit and a quarter of a pound for every serving of vegetables.
But those who ate starchy vegetables like peas and potatoes actually gained weight. Corn was the biggest offender — people who ate it regularly gained an average of two pounds over four years. Here’s a breakdown of some of their findings:
Vegetables that cause weight gain:
Corn (2.04 pound weight gain)
Peas (1.13 pound weight gain)
Potatoes (0.74 pound weight gain)
Cabbage (0.4 pound weight gain)
Fruits and vegetables that help with weight loss:
Berries (1.11 pound weight loss)
Apples (1.24 pound weight loss)
Pears (1.24 pound weight loss)
Cauliflower (1.37 pound weight loss)
Lettuce (0.52 pound weight loss)
While it sounds shocking that you can actually gain weight while eating your vegetables, Samuel Accardi, lead dietitian for nutrition intelligence company Mind Plus Matter, tells Yahoo Health that he isn’t surprised.
Why? Starchy vegetables have a high glycemic index, which can raise your body’s blood glucose.
When your blood glucose levels increase, your pancreas secrets insulin to bringdown your blood sugar, he explains. This can result in a sharp drop in your blood glucose levels a few hours after eating, leaving you with stronger feelings of hunger more quickly than if you had eaten foods with a lower .
As a result, you may end up eating more than you would have otherwise.
The study verifies the link: Researchers found that higher-fiber vegetables with a lower glycemic load, such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, had a stronger relationship with weight loss than lower-fiber, higher-glycemic-load vegetables, like carrots and cabbage. As for fruits, berries, prunes, raisins, grapes, grapefruit, apples, and pears had the strongest links to weight loss.
There’s also a more simple explanation, Alissa Rumsey, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells Yahoo Health: Starchier vegetables typically contain more calories than those that aren’t starchy.
Should we avoid starchy vegetables altogether? Maybe.
Rumsey points out that the study found that eating more fruits and vegetables (no matter what type) caused a decrease in weight. But eating a lot of starchy vegetables won’t help. “The portions have to be more controlled, as they contain more calories than the nonstarchy vegetables,” says Rumsey.
She recommends having no more than one serving (½ to one cup) of starchy vegetables a day.
Clearly, there are much worse foods you can eat than peas, corn, and potatoes — all of which contain some important vitamins and nutrients. Accardi also advises eating starchy vegetables in moderation if you’re trying to manage your weight.
And, of course, if you’re forced to choose between eating corn or a pint of ice cream, go for the corn.
So far I have received two rejections and surprisingly I’m okay with it.
I think my mind set is grounded in realistic pessimism. Since I am unpublished writer the chances of my first few submissions to be accepted is a stretch. But that is A-Ok. I can use this time to invest in writing additional essays and beef up my arsenal of submission ready work to rotate through until something gets published.
And to be quite honest I just figure that there’s an editor somewhere out there who will appreciate my work and will deem it worthy of publishing. She or he is out there, I just need to forge ahead and continue to submit until I find them. There’s an old saying that, ‘even a blind dog will find a bone if it digs enough holes’ – so that is exactly what I plan to do … keep digging holes. Arf!
Anyone who has frequented & hopefully is a subscriber to my blog knows that I attribute my weight loss & keeping it off is the exercise & food tracking app MyFitnessPal (accessible on desktop & mobile). And now it is being touted as one of the most effective tools to getting healthy. Check out this article!
The advice is supported by numerous studies. “One of the most consistent research findings is that people who keep [food] logs — whether it’s daily or weekly, or in a notebook or tablet or phone — do better than people who do not,” weight-loss specialist Charles Seltzer, MD, tells Yahoo Health.
While keeping a food or exercise diary isn’t a new concept, technology — specifically the widespread adaption of cell phones and apps — has revolutionized the practice.
Do it quickly, and this habit isn’t rude — it’s actually the key to losing weight and keeping it off. (Photo: Ben Pipe Photography/Corbis)
Thanks to these apps, it’s now easier than ever to log every handful of chips, bite of pizza, or spoonful of peanut butter. “Tracking food intake and exercise is important because it brings a greater awareness to our daily activities,” says nutrition expert Dana Ryan, PhD, who currently works as the manager of sports performance and education at the nutrition and weight management company Herbalife. “Writing down what we eat makes us more accountable, because we are more conscious of every little thing we are putting in our body,” she tells Yahoo Health.
The Rise of the Weight-Loss App
Twenty-five years ago, recording every morsel that passed your lips was a laborious process. You’d flip through a paper calorie guide to find the food, figure out the number of servings you consumed, multiply that by the number of calories in a serving, and repeat for every single food and beverage — then add it all up at the end of the day.
The process became easier in the 1990s as websites started popping up with food databases and automatic calculators that made the process significantly easier. But that still usually required logging onto a computer in order to input that day’s meals and snacks, and the sites weren’t very user-friendly.
This frustration was the inspiration for brothers Mike and Albert Lee to create MyFitnessPal. “Mike and his wife were planning a beach wedding and they both wanted to lose a little weight,” Albert Lee told Yahoo Health. “They went to see a fitness trainer and he gave them a book listing the nutritional values of around 3,000 foods and a small pad of paper to use for tracking our calories. He had been programming since he was 10 years old, so he just knew there had to be a better way to keep track of … meals and snacks, but couldn’t find anything online that was good enough. Every digital product on the market at that time was just as painful and time-consuming to use as food-logging in that notebook.”
So Mike Lee went to work creating the platform that would, in 2005, become MyFitnessPal. The first iOS app launched in 2009. “Since then, we’ve helped more than 90 million people achieve and maintain a healthier and happier lifestyle. We have a database of nearly 4 million foods and hundreds of exercises, plus top fitness technology partners and community insights,” Albert says.
Published research on weight-loss apps has been limited, but most studies show that tracking calories via a mobile device is more effective than keeping a paper journal. A weight-loss study led by researchers at the University of South Carolina found that participants who chronicled their food intake with an app consumed significantly fewer daily calories than those who used a paper log. Specifically, the app users ate about 500 fewer calories each day than the other group — the amount most experts suggest people cut out of their daily calorie intake to lose weight.
In a 2014 study from Arizona State University, app users logged their foods more consistently than people using a paper diary or the voice memo app on their phones, although there wasn’t a significant difference in weight loss between the groups during the eight-week study. A year-long study published recently in the journal Obesityconcluded that the consistency and frequency of entering calorie information improved participants’ long-term weight-loss success.
What Successful Dieters Do Differently
Tracking what you eat forces you to confront reality, Seltzer explains. “It’s objective data. It forces people to look at their own habits without being able to have the out of saying, ‘Oh, this is just this guy telling me it’s wrong.’ The numbers don’t lie,” he says.
“Sometimes people will say to me, ‘I started doing that but I didn’t like what I was seeing,’” Murphy says. “Well, the app isn’t being mean to you, it’s just being honest to what you’re actually eating. So if you don’t like what you’re seeing, you’re in denial about what you’re eating.”
Arthur concurs that keeping a log can be a huge reality check. “It’s that someone is seeing it, even if it’s just you,” she says. “If you’re walking by the cabinet and grab a little snack of something, you can kind of pretend no one saw it, but when you put it on paper, you have to see it, and you have to face it.”
When Seltzer’s weight-loss clients start recording their calories, “they always say it’s an eye-opener,” he says. “Almost without exception, they say, ‘I’m eating so much more than I thought I was.’”
People are also surprised to learn which foods are high or low in calories, Seltzer says. At Applebee’s, for example, the New York strip steak has fewer calories than a fiesta chicken salad (480 calories for the steak versus 700 for the salad).
When Murphy started using MyFitnessPal, she realized just how much sugar she was eating. “I hadn’t really thought about it before, but seeing that pie chart [on the app] and seeing days where carbohydrates were like 70 percent of my caloric intake was shocking. … It was really eye-opening,” she says.
Marissa Vicario, a certified integrated health and nutrition coach, explains that most people know how to lose weight — they’re just not always doing it. “Diet tracking provides accountability to actually put what they know they should be doing into action,” she tells Yahoo Health. “When you can actually see what you’re eating, it makes it a lot more real.”
A Life-Changing Habit
Sarie Bronish was 240 pounds at her heaviest, about three years ago. “I was feeling horrible about myself. I didn’t have any self-esteem, and my depression issues were at their worst,” the Washington state resident tells Yahoo Health. “That was the point in my life where it felt like everybody else in my life had to change for me to get happy, but I didn’t understand that the problem was actually myself.”
Her turning point occurred at a friend’s birthday party. “I was worried that when I walked in the room, everybody was going to be looking at me because of my thighs, and everybody was going to be looking at my hips and my waist,” she says. “I couldn’t enjoy myself in public anymore because it seemed like everything in my own head was going back to my weight.”
She started making small changes, like switching to wheat bread instead of white, and buying almond milk instead of dairy milk to save calories. About a month into her journey, she began tracking her calories and walking for exercise.
The pounds started to come off, and Bronish started tracking her macronutrients (protein, fat, and carbohydrates) using MyFitnessPal. “That’s when everything really started to fall off,” she says.
She has now lost and kept off 95 pounds and kicked her depression and anxiety issues entirely, she says. She still uses the app to track what she eats and make sure she’s getting enough protein. She also posts photos from her weight-loss journey to her Instagram.
Tips to Start Tracking Successfully
Keeping a lot of what you eat may seem inconvenient or intimidating. “But the tradeoff in the big picture is that you have a lot of flexibility over what you eat as long as you control the quantity,” Seltzer says.
If you’re new to tracking, experts and experienced MyFitnessPal users suggest these tips:
Try it for two weeks. Learn how the app of your choice works and how to enter foods and recipes. “That two-week period is an excellent way to get used to the program without putting any pressure on yourself to do anything specifically,” Seltzer says.
Don’t get down on yourself. “Just kind of go in without judgment and track for a while and see if you can spot some patterns,” Murphy says. “I think people can get really hard on themselves, especially in the beginning, and then that’s really discouraging. You just have to get over that hump.”
Work with your habits, not against them. “I tell people to go back [into their logs] and start looking at their habits to realize what their natural tendencies are, and then adjust within their natural tendencies rather than against them,” Seltzer says. If you’re a grazer, don’t try to start eating three meals a day — just eat a little less when you do snack, or choose lower calorie foods. If you eat most of your calories at night, just eat a little less at night.
Use whatever method works for you. Apps have convenient features, like saving your favorite foods and adding up calories for you. But some people like writing it down on paper. “It’s really a personal preference,” Arthur says.
Record what you eat or drink right away. If you don’t, you’re more likely to forget about something you ate, or forget to do it altogether, Seltzer says. The habit will get easier with practice.
I have decided to start a new regular post cataloging my journey to being a published writer and eventually an author.
This is quite possibly the most horrifying experience one can imagine. After endless hours of nursing the child of words – I thrust it into the world to be judged, taken apart, and more than likely rejected. I rather jump out of an airplane or repel out of a helicopter or perhaps even a root canal. Because none of those things bares my soul out to the world and risk it being dissected.
After years of fantasizing about earning a masters degree, I finally enrolled in a Master of English – Creative Writing program with a Nonfiction concentration. After my first nonfiction writing class, the professor gave me the most precious gift anyone can afford anyone … confidence. It is with her encouragement and guidance that I finally have put on my big girl pants and begun a series of unsolicited submissions of my two perfected creative nonfiction (“CNF”) essays seeking publication.
I simultaneously submitted each essay to three different literary journal / anthology. I have no idea what will result from any of these submissions but as most has a 1-2 months ‘reading periods’ I can only forget about them, work on a few more essays and submit those when perfected.
So for now, I have taken the first step to being rejected & published. Hoping for more of the ladder.