Rethinking the Healthy Weight Range for Women

So, you’re wondering about the healthy weight range for women. Maybe you’d like to feel healthier and you’re wondering what weight will get you there. Maybe you're wondering how your weight compares to what would be considered a healthy weight range for women. Either way, you’ve probably come across some BMI calculators or a chart to tell you what you should aspire to weigh (possibly followed by a plan or program promising to help you get there…)

But here’s the truth: nothing you can find on Google can tell you your ideal body weight because what’s ideal for you is as unique and individual and fabulous as you are!

A healthy weight range for women is whatever weight your body settles on when you are consistently listening to your body and caring for it in a way that feels healthy and supportive to you.

Before you scoff, and write me off as nonsensical, let’s look at some facts.

(And I completely get it - the first time I heard someone suggest something similar, I wrote it off as irresponsible and turned off the podcast episode… But, here we are…)

It’s pretty easy to find articles (upon articles, upon articles…) “proving” that obesity* increases the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, or other conditions, but according to Medical News Today:

A number of studies have demonstrated that some obese individuals have lower cardiovascular risk and an improved metabolic profile, while a subset of “normal-BMI” people are metabolically unhealthy and have increased mortality risk.

That same article references a study from the University of Virginia that found people who have a BMI of 23 or under, are more than twice as likely to die after surgery as people who fall into the obese category.

These studies (and so many more that you can find with a quick Google search - I highly recommend searching “health at every size” for more articles of this nature) make it clear that health is so much more than a number on a scale.

*Obesity is a clinical term devised to diagnose health risks based on body size. I use it here because it is being directly referenced in the articles, however, I generally prefer to avoid the use of the term as I don’t believe body size is a stand-alone predictor of health status.

A healthy weight range for women is whatever weight your body settles on when you are consistently listening to your body and caring for it

So, how do I evaluate a healthy weight range for me if I’m not using a BMI calculator??

I’ll start by saying that the need to strive for a particular weight is largely a result of the ideals and norms spread wide and far by diet culture. 

These norms suggest that we should choose a target weight and then do whatever it takes to make our bodies get there. 

The ever-present message is that weight loss is the key to a healthier body and happier life, but that is just not true and completely misses the bigger picture, that includes, but is certainly not limited to:

  1. The health of a body is made up of numerous factors, including genetics, social determinants of health, movement, nutrition, relationships, stress management, etc. When we narrow the focus to weight, we miss many key factors that may need attention.
  2. Plans and programs that promise to get you into a healthy weight range are often prescriptive and restrictive - meaning we actually have to disconnect from our bodies natural cues to follow them and may miss out on foods and food groups that provide essential nutrients.
  3. There is a very large body of evidence showing that intentional weight loss is most often followed by weight regain while causing other damaging health outcomes.
  4. Changing the size of your body will not automatically lead to changes in other areas of your life. If you are struggling with work stress now, it will still be there, no matter the size of your body.
Choose behaviors because they will help you care for your body, not because they will change your weight

So, what do we do instead?

Instead of focusing on reaching a healthy weight range, I recommend (like, totally, over-the-top, can’t say it enough, recommend) focusing on well-being and finding the behaviors and activities that create more of that for you - not because they will change your weight, but because they will help you care for your body today.

I am all about tuning into your body to identify the behaviors that will be best for you (grab my free Body Partnership Meditation to get started today!)

You can start by assessing a few factors such as:

How’s your relationship to movement? Can you identify activities that you find supportive and energizing for you?

How’s your stress? Do you participate in activities that help you reduce stress and support your mood?

How’s your sleep? Do you fall asleep easily and wake feeling rested?

What’s going on with your diet? Are you eating a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables most days of the week? How’s your food and weight-related stress level?

How’s your stomach feeling? Are you using the bathroom regularly?

Check in with each of those questions - can you find some changes or additions to your current routine that might help you feel stronger or more confident? That might help you find more energy or joy?

When we get up close and personal with our body and start to identify what creates the experience of health and well-being we desire, we can choose habits that support that and then see what your weight decides to do.

The healthy weight range for you is the weight your body chooses to be when you are consistently caring for it in a way that feels supportive and authentic to you.

(Side note, and probably another topic for another day, but  a healthy weight truly is a range. Our weight fluctuates throughout the day, the week, and the month. It fluctuates with hormones, fluids, exercise, you name it. And that’s perfectly fine! 🙂

Ready to tune into your body and find the health-promoting behaviors that feel best for you and your body? Grab your free Body Partnership Meditation HERE! 

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