Friday, July 8, 2011

Before the Diets: Plan, Assess and Know If You Need It

A flab in the wrong place is a possible indication that a person needs to lose weight. If it comes with sagging muscles, a double chin and puffy cheeks, the warning bells may be going off the hook. But before deciding on a weight-loss plan, consider this: Do you really need to go on a diet?

Whether you are below the age of 20 or above 50, it would first be best to know your body mass index (or BMI). This helps in getting an almost accurate reading of a person’s body fat – the first (and usually the best) gauge if you really do need to reduce. There is only one formula to easily calculate BMI:

Weight in pounds / height in inches (squared) x 703

The result of the BMI formula can then be compared to four categories:

1.      BMI of 18.5 and below = underweight
2.      BMI of 18.5 and 24.9 = normal weight
3.      BMI of 25.0 and 29.9 = overweight
4.      BMI of 30.0 and above = obese

The next one that needs assessment — at least a rough estimation — is your body weight. First, know your frame. Using your thumb and middle finger, encircle your wrist. There will only be three outcomes: if the fingers don’t meet, you have a large frame. If they do meet, you have a medium frame. If there’s still space between your fingers and wrist, you have a small frame.

Then convert your height to inches and multiply by 6 to get your average ideal weight. (To get it in pounds, add 106.) This would be for medium-frame people. (For small frames, subtract 5 pounds from your weight. If large, add 5 pounds.) Divide your real weight by using your computed individual ideal weight.

The results and interpretation are as follows:

1.      < 1.00 = underweight
2.      Between 1.00 and 1.10 = ideal weight
3.      Between 1.11 and 1.20 = almost overweight
4.      between 1.21 and 1.30 = overweight
5.      > 1.31 = obese

Many diet plans for losing weight fail due to a host of factors. Some lay emphasis on quick fixes and ultimate success without looking at reality. Others claim that food habits alone should be changed and not the lifestyle itself. Eliminating whole food groups – like no-protein or no-carbohydrate diets – is a characteristic of fad diets. (Note: The body needs carbs too. Not taking these food groups may damage health, especially for those with pre-existing medical conditions.) Beware of diets that promise you the body of a supermodel in a short span of time – those would most likely be false advertising.

Overweight people may sometimes complain of other body pains aside from the change in weight. If this happens often, then it would be best to consult a doctor to rule out the possibility of any medical conditions that need treatment. When he gives the go signal, then you can now start working on a change to a healthier lifestyle, intake of balanced meals, and regular exercise.

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