Don’t sweat a ‘magic number’

Posted: May 12, 2021Categories: Health, Health Tips, Success, Weight loss, Wellness

I wanted to have a chat about losing weight. It is no surprise many want to be thinner. Too many Kiwis are overweight, and our obesity numbers are among the worst in the developed world. Weight loss is a big deal for so many. And people can be set on an ideal weight or magic number. This is understandable, as there is likely to be an emotional attachment to that number. The desired weight likely represents a time in that person’s life when they were feeling better about themselves. People can even be obsessed with reaching a certain weight goal. It can become a bee-all and end-all scenario, as if they are not successful unless they hit their specific target.

It really is very important not to feel beholden to a magic number though. Because despite your own goals yourbody wants to be a certain weight, and this is called a ‘weight set point’. Think of this as you would a boxer’s ‘fighting weight’. It is where your body is going to feel it’s most comfortable.

Weighing yourself regularly on scales at home is a good way to measure your actual weight but you won’t get a true sense of body composition. You’ll only get a raw number that isn’t very instructive.

Body Mass Index (BMI) is an outdated way to measure physical health and doesn’t consider muscle mass (and muscle weighs more than fat). A great example to illustrate this point is All Blacks’ halfback Aaron Smith. The little champion is only 171cm tall yet weighs in at 83kg. His BMI therefore is 28- he is officially overweight. Have you seen how ripped he is? He is a ball of muscle with barely any fat on him and is ridiculously fit. His BMI doesn’t begin to paint the true story.

A better gauge of physical health involves putting a tape measure around your waist. A healthy waist measurement should be half that of your height. For example, a person who is 180cm tall should have a 90cm waist. This is a good rule of thumb to follow and will give you an idea of how much visceral fat you are carrying around your middle.

The fit of your clothing is another indication of how you are travelling. Are my jeans easier to get over my thighs? Have I come in a notch on my belt? Is my shirt looser to wear?

Having patience is key to losing weight too. If it took a while to put it on, then it will take a little time to come off. Most experts will suggest between 500 grams- 1kg weight lost each week is an excellent result. 500 grams is a block of butter- this is a significant amount.

Weight loss can be hard to predict, and your weight will probably fluctuate. This is to be expected, so try and not feel disheartened. Slow and steady weight loss will win out. Remember it is best to play the long game.

Your body will have a healthy magic number all its own and your weight set point is what it wants to be. You might not know what this number is just yet. And that’s cool. Because if you don’t know the number you can’t obsess over it.


Good luck, and please share your weight-loss story with me