How to Choose Your Goal Weight

Choosing a goal weight is an important step to take once you’ve decided to lose weight. Your goal weight will likely change as you progress through your weight loss program. It’s important to choose an initial goal weight that is attainable based on your current weight, and an ending goal weight that will decrease your risk for health problems. BMI (Body Mass Index) and the Hamwi Method are both used as guidelines when choosing an ending goal weight.

Calculating Your BMI

One way to find out if you’re considered overweight is to calculate your BMI. It’s determined by using this formula: [weight (in pounds)/height (inches) 2]x 703. Someone who weighs 180 lb. and is 5-foot-5 has a BMI of 30, which is considered obese. BMIs of 18.5-24.9 are considered normal weight, 25.0-29.9 overweight, and 30 and above obese. BMIs greater than 24.9 increase your risk for health problems, so choose an ending goal weight that yields a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 if it’s realistic for you.

Using the Hamwi Method

Another popular method used for calculating ideal body weight is to use the Hamwi Method. For women, start with 100 lb. for the first 5 feet of height and add 5 lb. for every inch over 5 feet. An adjustment is made for a large frame (add 10 percent) or small frame (subtract 10 percent).  For example a 5-foot-3 woman has an ideal weight range of 104 – 127 lb. (100 lb. + 5 lb. x 3 inches = 115 lb. plus/minus 10 percent). Men should start with 106 lb. for the first 5 feet and add 6 lb. for each inch over 5 feet.  A 5-foot-8 man would have an ideal body weight range of 139-169 lb. Keep in mind these weight ranges are only guidelines and don’t take into account extremely muscular individuals.

Choosing Your Initial Goal Weight

Your initial goal weight should be 10 percent less than your current weight if you’re considered overweight or obese. This initial goal weight should be accomplished slowly; shoot for a weight loss of ½ – 1 Ib. per week. To accomplish this, burn an extra 250 – 500 calories each day by eating less, exercising more, or both. Research shows that people are more successful at keeping weight off if they incorporate physical activity into their weight loss program. After you lose 10 percent of your starting weight, try to maintain that weight for 6 months before attempting to lose more weight. This will also increase your odds of keeping the weight off.

Remember, your goal weight should be realistic and attainable for you. Don’t choose a weight that’s lower than you’ve weighed in the past (as an adult). Incorporate exercise into your program unless your doctor prohibits it. The Hamwi Method and BMI can help you pick an ending goal weight but are only guides. Everybody is different; your goal weight should be a number that you’re comfortable with that makes you look and feel your best!


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