What is a Healthy Body Weight?
A healthy body weight is not a number on a scale. There is no ideal weight that suits everybody.
Body weight is only one part of your health.
Many other factors affect your health such as age, family health history, stress, sleep habits, and lifestyle.
Poor eating habits, low levels of physical activity and smoking increase the risk of health problems no matter what your body size.
Why Do I Need to Have a Healthy Weight?
Having a healthy weight can lower the risk of health problems such as:
- weak immune system
- heart disease
- some cancers
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
Having a very low body weight can increase risk of many of the same health problems as having a high body weight.
How Quickly Can I Reach a Healthy Weight?
There is no “quick fix” for weight loss that works for the long term. You need both healthy eating and physical activity to be healthy.
Weight loss that stays off over time is slow and steady.
- A healthy rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week.
- Rapid weight loss of more than 2 pounds per week means that your body is losing muscle and water (not losing fat).
Does more Weight Loss = Better Health?
NO! Losing as little as 5-10% of body weight for people who are overweight has been shown to help control blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. Losing more than 5-10% of body weight does not always bring more health benefits and can be harmful for some people.
What About BMI?
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measure of weight against height to assess risk for health problems.
- BMI does not take into account if you are physically active or if you have un-healthy lifestyle habits such as smoking and poor eating habits.
- Even someone with a low BMI can be at risk of health problems if their lifestyle is not healthy.
- BMI does not take into account that muscle weighs more than fat
Pitfalls of Poor Health Habits
Do you skip breakfast? Don’t exercise? Eat only one meal a day?
Eat on the run?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, read on ...
Healthy eating and daily physical activity will help your body and mind keep up with your busy life.
If you do NOT feed your body through the day, you may:
- feel tired, hungry and weak
- find it hard to focus
- be moody
- over-eat at the next meal
- eat more high fat foods later in the day
A poor eating pattern can affect how well you burn energy:
- Skipping meals or eating too little will cause your body to save energy by burning fewer calories, which can contribute to weight gain.
What is a healthy eating pattern?
- Eat a variety of foods to get the vitamins & minerals you need.
- Spread out your food intake throughout the day.
- Eat within 1½ hours of waking up to give your body energy. (Note: You should feel hungry after breakfast because your body is working harder to burn calories.)
- Eat at least every 3-4 hours through the day.
- Include healthy snacks between meals and before bed give you energy.
If you are NOT physically active, you may:
- feel tired and weak
- find it hard to focus
- have low self-esteem
- have a hard time sleeping
Lack of physical activity can affect how well you burn energy:
- Physical activity increases how much energy your body burns, which helps you to reach or maintain a healthy weight.
What is a healthy physical activity pattern?
- Work up to 30-60 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.
- Add up activity in at least 10 minute blocks.
- Choose a variety of activities to include endurance, flexibility and strength.
- Reduce time spent sitting!
Speak with your health care provider if you are beginning a new exercise program.
Nutrition information adapted from Regional Niagara Public Health Department.
Healthy Eating - Barriers & Solutions
Does this sound like you?
I have no time to make a meal!
- Make it simple. Include 3 of 4 food groups at each meal – Grain Products, Vegetables & Fruit, Milk Products, and Meat & Alternatives. For example: a tuna sandwich on whole wheat bread with a glass of milk is a complete meal.
- Stock your kitchen with basic foods to make a fast meal – whole grain breads, pasta, fresh or frozen vegetables, fruits, canned fish, meat, peanut butter, milk, yogurt, and cheese.
- Make big meals when you have time and freeze leftovers.
I am always on the run!
- Stock up on healthy foods that are easy to grab on the go – raw fruit and vegetables, yogurt, milk, cheese, whole grain muffins, crackers, dry cereal.
- Keep sliced meat, cut vegetables and boiled eggs on hand for quick sandwich fillings.
- Take along a travel mug or thermos for soup and hot foods.
It costs too much to eat healthy!
- Pre-prepared meals or packaged meals usually cost more.
- Make a shopping list and only buy what you need.
- Do not shop when you are hungry to avoid impulse buys.
- Buy fresh vegetables on sale and freeze for later use.
- Buy frozen and canned vegetables which may be cheaper.
- Buy foods in bulk and store or freeze.
- Buy chicken with the skin on and remove it yourself.
- Eat more meat alternatives like kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, and seed – they cost less than meat.
I will not give up my favorite foods!
You don’t have to! You can:
- Enjoy pizza with lots of vegetables.
- Add chocolate syrup to milk.
- Use whole wheat flour to bake.
- Add frozen peas and tuna to boxed macaroni and cheese.
- Use tomato and lettuce for hamburger toppings.
- Use whole wheat pasta and brown rice.
Physical Activity - Barriers & Solutions
Does this Sound Like You?
I don’t have enough time to exercise!
- Make physical activity a priority and schedule it into your day as you would an appointment.
- Replace TV time with a family walk.
- Try being active at the start of your day – that way if you get too busy later you don’t have to worry about missing your activity.
I don’t have childcare!
- Be a role model for physical activity. Try stroller walks with other parents, or run and play with your kids. If you teach kids that physical activity is fun, they are more likely to be active for life.
I don’t have access to a fitness centre!
- Walk anywhere, anytime.
- Keep a fitness bag in your car or at work with clothes, shoes and a wash up kit.
- Try exercise videos at home.
- Get together with a neighbour to be workout buddies (walk, bike, yoga, aerobics, weights).
- Hire a personal trainer to set up a fitness program to suit your needs at home. This can be cheaper than going to a gym and may only require one or two visits.
I cannot afford it!
There are many FREE ways to be active:
- play with your kids
- work in the garden
- do housework
- shovel snow
- build a snow fort
I am too tired and stressed to exercise!
- Physical activity can help you have more energy, strength, and a clear mind to cope with stress.
- Do something active in the morning or at lunch to give yourself a much needed boost of energy. The more you do, the easier it gets!
Make the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice!
Do not try to change everything at once.
Start with small changes that you will maintain and continue to build healthy choices into your life.
1. Set Up a Healthy Home
Always Have Healthy Foods at Home
Set yourself up for success.
- Avoid buying un-healthy snack foods – chips, candy, pop, etc…
- Keep a supply of healthy food on hand so you won’t fall back on something less healthy, like fast food.
- Freeze leftovers for a fast home-cooked meal.
- Put out a bowl of fruit for a quick snack .
Remove Tempting Triggers
Know what leads you to eat for reasons other than hunger.
- Bored? Go for a walk or call a friend.
- Desserts? Have some and give leftovers away.
- Stressed? Go outside or talk with someone.
- TV treats? Limit eating in front of the TV. Have one night of the week as “treat night.”
Adapted from Regional Niagara Public Health Department.
2. Fit Physical Activity Into Your Day...
Different activities have different health benefits. You can add up 10-minute blocks of activity to get to 60 minutes each day. As you progress to more intense exercise, you can cut back to 30 minutes four times per week.
Get started with:
|To keep heart & lungs strong
||To improve balance & coordination
||To build Strong muscles & bones
- walk the dog
- go for a walk at lunch
- bike to work
- park at the far end of the parking lot
- get off the bus early & walk the last 10 minutes
- touch your toes
- stretch break at work
- weed the garden
- clean your car
- wash the floors
- vacuum & other housework
- carry groceries to the car
- sit ups, push-ups
- squats, lunges
- take the stairs not the elevator
- shovel snow
- stack firewood
... Get the Idea?