Why is it so important to make a plan when starting a weight loss program? It’s simple because without a plan, you don’t know where you’re going or how you are going to get there. It’s kind of like trying to go to Walt Disney World without a plan – if you go without a plan, you may not get to see all of the things you wanted to see, that restaurant you wanted to eat at was booked up, or even you could miss out on a once in a lifetime experience! When a patient comes in to see me for weight reduction and for help in living a better lifestyle, the first thing we do is “Make a Plan”, set reasonable goals, and then measure those goals to assess how the journey is going. Since we talked about making the plan in the introduction, now we’ll discuss how to “Set the Bar.”
Many patients come to see me and say, “I want to weigh 150 pounds.” For some people, that is a reasonable goal, especially if you are under 5’4” but for taller folks, that 150 pounds might as well be impossible. You may already be at a normal weight and think you need to lose more. What about those who want muscle mass and definition? So, the first thing we need to do is figure out our numbers.
The BMI, or body mass index, can give me a good place to start, and lucky for me, the software I use for my patient charts calculates that for me. If you want to calculate your own there are free sites which do that for you, but I really like www.bmi-calculator.net because it has many other useful weight maintenance calculators on its site. Once you find your BMI, then you can determine if you are obese, but then how much should you weigh? That is a difficult question because there are many different formulas, and opinions. Also, if you want muscular definition, you will be weighing heavier than the charts indicate. The ideal weight loss calculator is good to give you an approximate range https://www.bmi-calculator.net/ideal-weight-calculator/ but it is not definitive. Make sure you click “All Formulas” when you make this calculation so that you can get a range of weights. So, if you are a female that is 5’4” the calculator estimates ideal normal weight to be between 107-146. I usually add 10-15 pounds to that number if my patients are weight training or want to put on muscle mass.
I get plenty of feedback from patients who want to know how many calories they should be eating. Well mostly I hear questions about what kind of diet should I eat and not necessarily how many calories to eat. If you want to monitor your caloric intake, a measurement of BMR is needed. A BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate will tell you how many calories your body needs to perform its daily functions. Once you know your BMR, you can figure out how many calories you need to eat daily and still lose weight. I love the BMR calculator online at https://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/ which can get you started in the right direction.
So now we have an idea of how much weight needs to be lost, and for many Americans, that number can be a significantly high amount (like 50 pounds or more). For those patients, I give them a long-term and a short-term goal since weight loss, just like everything else in life, is a journey. For instance, I am 5’4 and I need to be about 145 pounds and that is the end goal, but is that feasible for me in the next 11 weeks (hint, I needs to drop about 50 pounds to get there)? What is a reasonable goal? Using a weight loss calculator can help me figure out a reasonable amount of weight loss that results from changes in my life https://www.bmi-calculator.net/weight-loss-calculator/ including a healthy diet, limiting calories, and increased exercise.
My Long-Term Goal for my obese patients is to get their BMI under 30.
Once this goal is met, I move the bar and challenge them to get the BMI under 25.
For other patients who are happy with a BMI between 25-30 or who do not meet the BMI criteria due to muscle mass, their challenge is to decrease their total body measurements – chest, waist, hips, wrist, forearm AND to get their % Body Fat under 25. I use % Body Fat for athletes and those with a high muscle mass. I have many patients (mostly male) who have a BMI greater than 30 which is classified as obesity, however, when I calculate their % Body Fat, they are very often in the normal range (18-25). These patients are not obese – they are just solid muscle. I prefer to calculate the % Body Fat https://www.bmi-calculator.net/body-fat-calculator/ instead of using the popular machines and caliper tools because measurements are more accurate (you can be strong and obese and the machine can’t tell the difference which is why the muscle needs to be measured). Finally, I want to mention the importance of weighing yourself every day, first thing in the morning with an empty bladder and in your birthday suit. Understand that weight will go up and down, but the only way you will know that your actions are working is to weigh yourself regularly.
These are the calculations I do for my patients, and I find them helpful for guiding my treatment plan, but if you are not a fan of math, there are several apps and tools that will do everything I mentioned above and keep track of your measures and goals for you (a digital diary instead of a written one). Here is my list of preferred apps that are useful to help patients “Set the Bar”:
My Fitness Pal https://www.myfitnesspal.com/
Have you decided what you are going to use to “Set the Bar”? Comment below and let me know what apps you love for body metrics and weight loss.
Until next time –
Dr. Brandy 😊
Saturday, July 17, 2021
I just completed my first week of changes and it was not as hard as I thought it would be. It was harder! I managed to get 4 days of work outs and went from 3,000 steps per day up to 7,366 steps per day. Using my Fitbit function to remind me that I still had moving to do was extremely helpful. Sarah, my daughter and fitness expert, planned 2 fun work outs for me! I appreciated that because though I did not want to have “fun” working out, it was a great way to both spend time with her and get in shape. Last week was a week of avoiding restaurant and quick fast foods. My family had home cooked meals all week except for Friday (which is our normal restaurant meal day) and Saturday afternoon (while they had burgers and fries, I had a southwest salad). I increased my water intake from 8 oz to 64 oz – but this goal was only met 1 day out of 4. In addition to focusing on my core goals for next week, it is important that I remember to work on relaxation, extra sleep, and mindfulness. How did you do last week? What can you do to improve for this coming week?
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