The definition of “healthy weight” is complicated
An estimated 2 in 3 Australians are overweight or obese, so it’s no surprise that so many people are trying to slim down. You’re probably wondering what your doctor would really want you to know about losing weight. The thing is, even if you’re not exactly where you’d like to be weight-wise, that doesn’t actually mean you need to lose weight.
“With so much emphasis on weight loss these days, people are often trained to believe that no matter what their weight is, it isn’t good enough,” says registered dietitian Lori Zanini. “This is unfortunate and causes unnecessary stress on individuals who may be perfectly healthy just the way they are.” There’s no one-size-fits-all formula to indicate how much you should weigh, and “healthy” can look different for each of us, and it can also evolve as we age, Zanini says. “It may not look like what you see in the movies or even in pictures of yourself from 10 years ago.”
So if the scale and social cues are unreliable, how can you tell when your body is happy – and healthy – right where it is? Consider if you can relate to these eight telltale signs.
You follow a healthy lifestyle
Despite the fact that you make healthy living a priority, you haven’t been able to lose weight. Frustrating? Sure. Make sure you’re not following a suboptimal eating plan, like diets that require you to cut out entire food groups. Another reason for your stasis is that you’re already at a healthy weight. “I often see patients who are active and feel great but have a high body mass index (BMI) because of their muscle mass,” says Dr Caroline Apovian, MD, the director of the Center for Nutrition and Weight Management at the Boston Medical Center. “Being healthy is more about having toned muscles and less about weight. Regularly lifting weights, doing cardio, and eating a healthy diet can help you feel great and will help your body reach whatever weight it ‘naturally’ wants to be to stay healthy.”
You’re bursting with energy
If you can typically get through the day without downing four cups of coffee or endless caffeine-packed soft drinks, you’re probably at a healthy weight. “When you’re at your ideal weight, you feel healthy and energetic,” says dietitian Stephanie Middleberg. While that may seem like an imprecise indicator, science echoes Middleberg’s point. According to a 2015 study of 1,300 volunteers published in the journal Sleep, people at a healthy weight are less likely to experience excessive daytime sleepiness than obese individuals.