You’ve heard doctors talk about BMI for a long time: or body mass index. You might even know yours by heart, especially if you’ve been told your number is in the unhealthy range.
Technically, your BMI is used as a good indicator of how much body fat you are likely to have. You can calculate your BMI by dividing your weight in pounds by your height in cm squared, then multiplying that number by 703. An easier way to determine your BMI is to use an online calculator.
Here is how BMI ranges are categorized:
Underweight is a BMI less than 18.5
Normal weight is a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9
Overweight is a BMI between 25 and 29.9
Obesity is a BMI of 30 or more
Although it is often said that being overweight or obese is bad for your health, this is not the complete picture. If we were more specific, we would say that excess body fat is bad for your health. Excess body fat, especially visceral fat (that which accumulates in the stomach area) is linked to higher blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, which can all affect the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. BMI is just one correlation of this, since generally the higher the BMI, the more fat you are likely to accumulate.
That said, BMI has its limits for what it can and cannot tell you about your health and whether you need to lose weight. Age, gender, ethnicity, and muscle mass can skew BMI when it comes to body fat. For example, if you are extremely athletic and have a lot of muscle mass, your BMI may indicate that you are obese when you are actually in good shape.
- 1 What you need to know about losing weight after 40
- 1.1 Here are the steps, backed by science and experts, that will help you achieve lasting results.
- 1.2 1. Get your precise personal BMI figure
- 1.3 2. Set a realistic goal if you’re trying to lower your BMI
- 1.4 3. Keep track of your weight loss progress
- 1.5 4. Know how much you move
- 1.6 5. Weigh yourself regularly to find out what works (and what doesn’t)
- 1.7 6. Get moving now with the workout of your choice
- 1.8 7. Set training goals to be more likely to stay on track
- 1.9 8. Choose your foods to make sure your diet is right for you
- 1.10 9. Stay persistent, even if you don’t see results right away.
What you need to know about losing weight after 40
That said, if your BMI is in the upper range and your waist circumference also indicates that you are at risk for health problems, your doctor may advise you to lose weight, which will likely lower your BMI.
Here are the steps, backed by science and experts, that will help you achieve lasting results.
1. Get your precise personal BMI figure
Online BMI calculators abound, but you should get your official BMI at your doctor’s office from someone who weighs you and measures your height. If you ask most of us how much we weigh, we’ll tell you we weigh less than we do, and we’ll tell you we’re a little taller. This would lead to an underestimation.
2. Set a realistic goal if you’re trying to lower your BMI
Losing just 5-10% of your body weight can have significant health benefits. For some people, that means your BMI may still be in the overweight range, and that may be acceptable.
It is unrealistic and unnecessary for anyone with a BMI of 30 or more to arrive at a BMI within the normal range. It’s about whether you’re making progress towards a better health future. Your goal should be to lose some weight and then reassess your progress.
3. Keep track of your weight loss progress
Know where you stand today and where you stood yesterday. Then give yourself a pat on the back. Self-monitoring is really important when it comes to weight control.
Record your diet or calorie intake for a few days to understand what your actual eating habits are. This may be the reality check you need to change your ways. Use whatever method works best for you, whether that means writing it down in a journal or using an app on your smartphone. A February 2019 study published in Obesity showed that the more participants used a web app to track their eating habits over six months, the more weight they lost.
4. Know how much you move
As with tracking your diet, you need to know your level of physical activity. Even if you’re not into a program, there are tons of apps available to you, whether you’re on an Android or an iPhone, and fitness trackers you can wear on your wrist. Remember, even climbing stairs counts!
5. Weigh yourself regularly to find out what works (and what doesn’t)
Once a week, step on the scale. Next, chart your weight. It’s easy to do through an app, or you can do it yourself using a chart. This way, you’ll know if you need to change your approach to weight loss, or if you should stay the course.
6. Get moving now with the workout of your choice
If you know you need to start exercising more, and your activity log proves it, you’re going to want to exercise. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to get into kickboxing or try CrossFit.
You are not rewarded for doing the hardest exercise you can find. Pick an activity that you find fun or enjoyable, like walking your dog or going for a hike, and make it your regular workout.
7. Set training goals to be more likely to stay on track
It is not enough to say that you are going to start “exercising more”. Rather, you have to plan it.
Commit to walking for 20 minutes three times this week, and schedule the days and times you will do so, such as after work on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. And if a problem arises, know that you can reduce it to 5 or 10 minutes, everything counts.
In summary, first, make an activity a habit, then focus on its duration and intensity.
8. Choose your foods to make sure your diet is right for you
When you want to lose weight, diet tips abound. Plus, research shows that the best combination for successful weight loss is to focus on both diet and exercise.
Diets vary widely from person to person. Your co-worker may swear by a low carb diet when it would make you unhappy. Research suggests that the quality of your diet may matter more.
For example, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that foods like potato chips, processed meats, red meat, and sugary drinks were associated with weight gain. While those like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and yogurts were associated with weight loss.
9. Stay persistent, even if you don’t see results right away.
Even if the weight doesn’t seem to dissipate fast enough, stay the course. Only by making consistent efforts to eat well, move more, and maintain other healthy habits that affect weight (like getting enough sleep) will the pounds disappear permanently, research shows. Researchers have found that when weight goes up and down, possibly due to inconsistent exertion, people are more likely to give up on their goals. Remember: hold on!.