I was just thinking this morning about the intersection (or not) between ideal weight and goal weight. And, to be honest, now that I am at a normal BMI, I am struggling with losing weight to get to a more ideal weight where my body fat percentage would be lower. I do think that having a goal weight — whether on Weight Watchers or simply losing to a personal goal — has a benefit. It gives me something to shoot for. While I was trying to get to my official goal weight of 126 pounds, I constantly set smaller goals along the way. In Fitbit, I would set a 5 or 10 pound goal, then meet it and go on. But, then I got to my goal weight of 146 pounds.
For a number of years now, Weight Watchers has set the official healthy weight range based upon BMI. 146 pounds at 5’4″ is at the top of the BMI “normal” weight range. As a lifetime member, meeting that number means I can attend meetings for free and get free eTools. There is a tiny bit of wiggle room. That is, if I am not more than 2 pounds above goal weight, I maintain my free status.
I remember last summer when I got to 146 pounds, I felt this huge feeling of relief. I was normal weight. I had left obese the year before, and it feel truly strange to be leaving the category of overweight. I had been overweight for about 25 years. Wrapping my head around the idea of being normal took time. And, even though I know I still have too much body fat, I know that I have accomplished a lot to get where I am. And, my body fat now is better than it was before. Getting to a normal BMI was an achievement for me.
At the same time, I realize that the concept of picking a goal weight based upon BMI is, at best, flawed. By this time, I am sure most of us have heard about BMI’s disadvantages. And, at best, there are limitations to using BMI in part because it doesn’t measure body fat directly. The weight lifter or athlete with high amounts of muscle, but low body fat may measure as overweight on BMI without having actual excess fat. Now, that is not the same thing as saying BMI is meaningless. The reality is that most of us who are overweight by BMI are also over fat. We aren’t athletes with a lot of muscle and low body fat. And, if you are, then you know that. When I was obese and overweight it was because I had too much body fat.
And, then, suddenly (well, after 25 years) I was at a normal BMI and I was at my Weight Watchers goal. And, all was kittens and puppies and rainbows. And, yet, having gotten to that goal weight it feels at times like it is its own kind of tyranny. And, it seems to get in the way of me mentally working on getting to my ideal weight. There are really a couple of issues. [Read more…]