How to Get a Healthy Body Mass Index

News and Advice, Weight Loss
on June 7, 2011

Your body mass index (BMI) is an important number that says a great deal about your risk of developing weight-related medical issues like high blood pressure and diabetes. You can calculate your BMI using this mathematical formula: Multiply your weight in pounds by 703, divide that number by your height in inches, and then divide again by your height in inches. Or use a handy chart provided by a major health website like the Weight-control Information Network (WIN), a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Healthy vs. unhealthy BMI. According to the WIN website, a healthy body mass index falls between 18.5 and 24.9. Lower than 18.5 would be considered underweight, whereas 25 to 29.9 is classified as overweight. A body mass index of 30 or higher is considered obese, and this is where the health concerns, including coronary artery disease, really come into play. Finally, the Cleveland Clinic recognizes an individual with a BMI more than 40 as morbidly obese (at risk for death due to obesity-related medical issues).

As you can see, reaching and maintaining a healthy body mass index is important for your overall health. Fortunately, getting a healthy BMI is as simple as reaching a healthy weight for your height. Experts at the Cleveland Clinic agree that the best way to lose weight and keep it off for good is to lose weight slowly through regular exercise and mild calorie restriction.

Estimate daily calories. Many health and wellness websites (such as the Cleveland Clinic website) provide formulas to help you estimate how many calories you need to eat each day to fuel your body while still losing weight. A doctor or nutritionist can also help you estimate how many calories your body needs. Diets that overly restrict calories may work in the short term, but these ultimately lead to muscle loss, which isn’t good for your metabolism and make it next to impossible to maintain your weight loss.

If you’re eating the proper amount of calories and working out regularly, you can get your BMI within a healthy range. It may not happen overnight, but nothing that is worth having comes that easily. Keeping a food journal can help you stay on track and recognize negative or positive patterns in your eating habits and food choices. In order for your journal to be a helpful tool, you must be 100 percent honest with yourself about what you’re eating, including your portions/serving sizes. You can also journal about how you felt before or after eating, which can help you recognize and overcome any emotional attachments to food.

Set realistic goals. The formula for weight loss may be simple (burn more calories than you consume), but putting this into practice is never as easy as it sounds. In addition to getting active and eating healthier, experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend setting realistic goals, finding a support system and making a real commitment to getting healthy, even if it means putting relationship issues or work stresses on the back burner for a while. With persistence and the proper perspective, new habits will eventually become major lifestyle changes, leading to a healthy weight and subsequently a healthy body mass index.