The Full Body MOT Series – Weight & BMI
It is a brand-new year, and time for new beginning. Perhaps, you're thinking of taking up a new hobby, skill or just taking better care of yourself. At Vytaliving, we are making it our mission to support you in making 2022 your best year of health yet. For the full month of January, we will be releasing handy guides for boosting your mental and physical wellbeing. In the words of Novak Djokovic-
“We only have one life and one body to care of, and we better do it right.’
The first article in the series is about healthy weight. This time of year it’s common to see a renewed interest in weight loss, with media promoting diets to get summer body ready and ways to lose weight fast. Vytaliving has created a handy guide to help you lose weight, but most importantly sustain that healthy weight.
You may think a great place to start is researching weight loss techniques, signing up to slimming world or picking up a glossy magazine that claims ‘10 ways to lose weight fast’. However, the best place to start is to understand weight and BMI.
Weight is a contributed to by many factors including genetics, sleep, mental wellbeing, food volume, food type, activity, gender, physical wellbeing and more. The truth of the matter is, the human body is pretty good at maintaining its weight within narrow parameters, if only our head didn’t get in its way. Let us look at the way a baby eats, they have pure and unblemished minds when it comes to attitudes around food. If you watch a baby eat, they move from one food to the next, purely based on preference. In fact, studies show that the way in which babies eat is driven by evolution, opting for the highest energy foods first, as well as opting for those highest in quick-energy – carbohydrates and fat. Never, will you see a baby opt for the lowest calorie option first. Lastly, babies stop eating when they are full. These eating habits slowly fade as we age and the disconnect between our head and our body arises.
A good place to start is BMI, or body mass index. Some people use this as a guide for whether they are categorised a normal weight, overweight or obese. This should be used as a guide but that is all it is. BMI is calculated by dividing your weight by height squared. Here are what the results mean:
- Less than 18.49- Underweight
- 5 - 24.9- Healthy Weight
- 25-30- Overweight
- 30+- Obese
As science progressed, we realise that weight really doesn’t determine much, instead it’s the composition of that weight and the fitness of the person that matters. The BMI calculation has a few faults, for example it doesn’t consider pregnancy, increased muscle mass or even endemic genetic differences between races.
Another school of thought is that a higher BMI is related to disease. Sometimes this is case, but this is not a cause-and-effect relationship, simply an association. For example, if you live in a larger body you are not guaranteed to be ill in later life. Nor, if you live in a smaller body, you are not guaranteed to be free of illness in later life. The health at every size (HAES) movement has shown that except at statistical extremes, BMI only weakly predicts longevity.
Motivations for losing weight
As you’re reading this, I urge you to think ‘why do I want to lose weight’?
If your answer includes any of the following – I should, I was told to, because I want to be attractive to others or similar sentiments then you may want to reconsider this journey. This is because your motivation is extrinsic which means you will not be able to connect with your real motivation. Studies demonstrate that intrinsic weight loss motivation is more sustainable. This includes wanting to feel healthier, reducing ache on joints or being able to complete a lifetime goal. An article from Psychology Today captures this perfectly:
‘Extrinsic motivation makes you feel like a slave on an ancient ship rowing hard to avoid being whipped by your master, intrinsic motivation makes you feel like you’re on a grand adventure, excited not just by the destination but by what lies in front of you.’
Getting to know the ‘why’?
If you have come this far and want to lose weight, first you need to start with what road has led you to this point of being unhappy with your weight. Could this be lack of exercise, a poor diet, a sedentary job, increased alcohol consumption, emotional eating and so on. Target this first before starting your weight loss journey.
List all the reasons why – then recommend sustainable suggestions that might work for you:
- A Sedentary Job – get a standing desk or walk in your lunch break.
- Increased Alcohol Consumption- Only drink socially and not at home.
- Emotional eating- tackle the source of the upset and seek professional psychological support
- A poor diet- Simply aim for your 5-a-day, reduce your takeaways per month, make your own lunches rather than buying out.
How to lose weight?
It is the billion-dollar question that has founded the $254.9 billion industry (as of 2021). A common mistake is leaping in and doing it all at once. From the list below choose just one habit to focus on at once, practice this until it becomes second nature to you:
- Stop calorie counting, instead listen to your body's cues. When calorie counting you aren’t prioritising hunger, or fullness. Instead, you’re looking at consuming the least amount of calories. Typically, this leaves you hungry between meals, obsessed with when your next meal is coming and increases snacking. Instead, opt for meals that leave you satiated.
- Focus on introducing fruits and vegetables as part of your meal. Try aiming for ½ a plate of vegetables at every meal.
- Do not skip meals, this results in consuming more energy and volume later in the day.
- Make food decision based on what will provide you with the greatest health benefits. Instead of choosing food based on being low in calories.
- Stay hydrated with at least 2 litres of water per day.
- Set a sleep schedule that works for you. Being over-tired can lead you to reaching for quick energy and high-sugar snacks the following day.
- Prioritise movement of your body. This doesn’t have to be hours at the gym. This could simply include walking, dancing, cycling, or cleaning the house.
- Focus on food types that keep you full and satiated – fibre, protein, healthy fats.
- Never let yourself get really hungry this can result in serving larger portions than you had intended to have, or need to feel full.
- Try a 80:20 approach to healthier nutrient dense food and less healthy.
Putting your health first
Sometimes it can be demotivating to see the scale only shift 1 pound when you have made so many changes. Try to be mindful that this can be due to a number of factors. If this is the case, try to remember that this one weigh-in, in one day, in one week, in one month, in one year. It is a drop in the ocean of life. Try not to let that one measurement get you down. Instead focus on other positive factors to your weight loss, including:
- Feeling more energetic
- Being able to zip up your coat or close your blouse
- Feeling less breathless
- Changes in measurements rather than weight.
- Healing your relationship with food and exercise
- Feeling mentally stronger
- Being able to comfortably button your jeans
- Sleeping better
Maintenance of your weight loss
Maintenance starts from the outset by choosing habits that you can maintain. For example, very few people will be able to maintain a workout schedule of x2 , 45-minute gym sessions every day. However, some people may be able to manage a 30-minute walk, and/or 30 minutes of high-intensity exercise at home or the gym. Or, another example may be never vowing to eat chocolate ever again, this is not realistic. What you may set out to say is I will only eat 1 row of chocolate if I have a craving.
Be mindful that one day of elaborate eating, or a day of rest is 1 day out of 365, be kind to yourself, be kind to your body and listen to its cues.
For the whole month of January, Vytaliving will be posting 2 articles a week regarding your mental and physical wellbeing as part of the Full Body MOT Series. This will include articles covering exercise, heart health, mental wellbeing, cognitive health, the cardiovascular system, muscle, bones, joints and posture. If you want to join- us for the Full Body MOT Series this January, then like our Facebook or subscribe to our newsletter to keep up to date with articles, offers and new products.