After all, it’s still about having a dream and hope for a better quality of life. With weight loss surgery this dream can become a reality. But what happens when your weight loss expectations don’t seem to pan out? Don’t panic! Questions on what really is a healthy weight, what your target weight is and what it takes to get there need to be answered. So, whether you are just beginning your journey or have traveled down the road a bit, this is the time to understand …the benefits, the limitations, the effort and the support that will see you through and get you to a place where you really want to be.
Ideal or Real?
We may all be familiar with the dreaded Ideal Body Weight values and the life insurance tables which, for many years were the standard reference to compare whether you were at a healthy weight. Many things have changed since then and screening for weight problems has become more advanced. A lot more is taken into consideration then whether you are a low risk to buy life insurance. The research that was used to set these ranges is out of date. It included only a select group of people who don’t really reflect the larger population. Instead, more and more research is showing that using the ideal body weight as a reference is not only flawed but helps keep the stigma of being overweight alive. Comparing yourself to unrealistic values that imply you are less than ideal is not a healthy outlook. This can contribute to feelings of frustration, anxiety, disappointment and lead to a return to habits that cause you to gain weight. Get away from the notion that ideal body weight is equal to desirable.
A better way to gauge where you stand and explore health risk is by looking at your Body Mass Index or BMI. The BMI is helpful to compare groups of people (children and adults) to see the relationship between their height and weight. The BMI is used in screening for health risk. There are cut off points which coordinate with a degree of being over a certain weight. The BMI is not perfect either, it does not reflect muscle or fat mass however, it is known that as BMI climbs, so does body fat and this is a predictor of health risk. In addition, the cut off points have varied between BMI’s of 24 and 27 but in general a BMI of 25 has been accepted as one of the indicators for health risk screening. To figure out what’s best for long life and great health, more information needs to be put into the equation. So take the BMI and customize it to help you see where you really stand. Figuring this out is key!
Frame Size Does Matter
You bet it does. So, whether you large, medium or small frame, are a man or woman , whatever your body shape, waist size or body fat percentage is, personalizing your profile will help you to not only set goals so you can achieve them but also reinforce how successful you really are and help you to keep on target.
For example, men and women have different views on what their weight should be. It turn’s out that both physical build (frame size, body fat, lean mass) and perception come into play. Most men view a BMI of 27 as desirable while most women have a lower weight goal that equates with a BMI of 24 or less. One of the reasons for this reflects average differences in lean body mass between men and women which equals almost 2 BMI points. But, if the difference is not because of lean muscle, relaxing your view may mislead you and not give you an idea of your health risk. This is because men have a lower tolerance for body fat than do women.
Many women desire weight goals that are consistent with BMI’s of 24 or lower. In these instances, many women may not realize that they could be setting themselves up for disappointment in that the weight may not be attainable or sustainable. At times, unrealistic comparisons to ideal body weight and society’s views on ultra thinness can be influential. Young women are especially vulnerable to these thoughts. Difficulty arises when you continue to struggle with your weight and are dissatisfied. Dieting yo-yos, impossible weight plateaus and ultimately weight regain can be an outcome.
For both men and women body shape and belly fat is very important because fat in your mid section and torso interferes with the ability of vital organs to function at their best even if your BMI is 25 or less. Waist measurements that fall out of the range of 40” for men and 35” for women signal a problem. This is your core and it needs to be healthy!
Why is all of this important? Because you can’t determine where you stand and whether or not you are at a healthy target by looking at just one value. You can run the risk of being misclassified and after all that you go through to lose weight no one wants to hear that they are still overweight!
Expect and Accept
Take the guess work out. Expectations and perceived notions about weight loss need to be straightened out because research has shown that only one quarter of weight loss surgery candidates estimated correctly how much weight they could expect to lose. Get realistic estimates of how much weight loss is reasonable and what you can expect from the program. Setting your sites on the benefits to changing your life are individual. They include expectations for improvements in health, quality of life, social and sex life, self-image, feelings of attractiveness, work performance and self-confidence. Only you can evaluate how far you’ve come and see what is most important to you.
Expecting that a particular weight will guarantee improvements is misleading. And so is saying one weight loss surgery is more effective than another. Truth is, the degree of weight loss varies and it doesn’t have to do with the type of surgery it is. This is because some studies are looking at the percent of excess weight lost and others are looking at BMI loss. As you now know excess weight is based on ideal body weight and that brings problems as you learned earlier.
Expect that you can lose anywhere from 10-50% of your weight with the diet, exercise and lifestyle plan that accompanies weight loss surgery. Ask for simple language that gives you a pounds estimate. Accept that losing 10% of your weight is significant for your health. You see improvements in blood work, fewer or discontinued medications, improved breathing, fitness, sleep, stress, inflammation. Reflect and reward yourself on having attained this milestone!
Ultimately, BMI goals are not known for someone who is resolving serious weight problems so don’t get locked in to that value either. Getting to your healthy target weight will involve a lot of things but setting the record straight from the beginning and staying on track will bring you your dream for your very best weight. Your journey doesn’t end it evolves with you!