How Much Should I Weigh? Why BMI might not be best
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The question sounds simple but is a complicated answer: How much should I weigh? 

You may have heard that the best way to assess your proper weight is by looking at body-mass index (BMI), which correlates your height and weight into health ranges. While this is a starting place it is certainly not the end-all-be-all.

Here are two examples of clients in my practice that used BMI to assess how much they should weigh and the challenges that arose because of this. 

Melanie, a 55-year-old menopausal woman had lost and gained the same 50 pounds over the years. She had high blood pressure and suffered from depression. At five-foot-four and 230 pounds, her BMI labelled her obese. This five-letter word was deflating. After years of trying to achieve a healthy BMI range of 108 to 145 pounds with no success, Melanie decided to let it go. Looking back at her history it became clear that even when she was eating and exercising almost perfectly she was never able to nudge lower than 170 pounds. Over time Melanie found peace with her weight and success-fully now maintains a weight of 175 to 185 pounds. Despite BMI still classifying her as obese, she has more fun, better flexibility with her food, lowered knee pain and has dropped her blood pressure.

At 16, Beth remembers feeling bigger than most girls in her class. At five-foot-six and 170 pounds she started dieting and exercising excessively. She got to 120 pounds by being severely bulimic. At 19, a well-intended health professional that didn’t know the punishing regime Beth had been following for years, suggested that she was at a good weight because she fell within the healthy BMI range. Her psychologist and I had to work very hard to convince her that 120 pounds, although considered healthy by the BMI, was not healthy for her. As Beth recovered from her disorder and began to nourish her body with sufficient food and moderate activity, the scale normalized to the higher end of the BMI range. Her blood pressure and heart rate improved and her menstrual cycle reappeared. While happy that her physical health was restored, Beth still struggles with knowing that while some women at her height can be healthy at 115 pounds, in order to be healthy she needs to weigh almost 40 pounds more.

Three Steps to Achieving your Best Weight

It is not about the number on the scale 

Focus on restoration of health and maximizing quality of life. Minimize a fixation on numbers on the scale as much as possible. Focus on increasing your energy levels, improving mood as well as increasing vitamins, minerals and other key nutrients. Also focus on reducing joint pain, less need for medication, better digestion, and healthier blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels and blood sugars.

It is not about calories in versus calories out 

The diet industry would have you believe that you can weigh whatever you want if you simply eat less and exercise more. Your weight is a reflection of a complex list of factors above and beyond your food and activity factors. Also important are genetics, family history, gender, age, body composition, sleep habits, stress levels and more. Remember that some factors we can change while others are factors we have little control over.

It is not about giving up fun and flexibility 

Weight management experts Dr. Arya Sharma and Dr. Yoni Freed-hoff suggest focusing on your best weight, which is defined as whatever weight you can achieve while living the healthiest lifestyle possible and still having fun and flexibility. At some point you will not be able to eat less, exercise more and still enjoy a great life. At that point you are trying to achieve a weight that is under where you should be. The words fun and flexibility are essential. Living fully is indeed about a mix of healthful and soulful choices.


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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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