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What's Ideal for You?

How times have changed. Once weight was necessary for survival; now it’s a risk factor for disease. Our culture once valued the abundantly round figure as a sign of fertility for women and of wealth for men. Today’s culture values a different “ideal” body -- one that is both thin and physically fit at the same time. This ideal is a difficult combination to achieve.

More than ever, it’s waif-like models, buff athletes and busty pageant winners who define attractiveness and today’s “ideal”. The hidden (false) message: People with less than perfect bodies lack willpower, and those who are different aren’t ideal.

However for most of us, this ideal body is not always healthy or realistic! To achieve the look usually requires strenuous workouts and/or cosmetic procedures, not to mention “good” genes. The average person doesn’t have the time or money.

Personal history and genetics

Each of us carries our own personal perception of our bodies, starting from the messages we received as a child about our appearance. If we were teased by others, it might have taken a toll on our developing self- and body-image.

Are we destined to inherit the family shape? Experts say “yes”. For mothers, daughters, fathers and sons, genetics guide body shape. In fact, even twins who are raised in separate homes have similar body-fat percentages. But don’t feel discouraged if you don’t like the shape you inherited. The good news is that whether you are a “pear” or “apple” shape, you can become a smaller, trimmer, fitter and healthier one!

What’s ideal for you?

Luckily, we have more than the media to tell us what a healthy, realistic body looks and feels like. Body mass index, or BMI, corresponds to a weight that is associated with reduced health risks for conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Notice that a healthy weight is not a single ideal weight. It’s a range that corresponds to a BMI of 18.5-24.9. That means you define your own personal “ideal” based on your weight/shape history, your type of physical activity and your health needs. We took the guesswork out for you and already calculated your healthy weight range and BMI with our healthy weight calculator and BMI calculator. You can find it in your Profile, under All About You > Goals.

Use this healthy weight range as a starting point to setting your personal weight loss goal. What’s realistic for you may be above this range. That’s okay! You know what’s most reasonable for you. And, even modest weight loss, such as 5 to 10% of your body weight, can provide health benefits.*

Reframing your mindset to one that is positive, optimistic and realistic will only help your weight loss efforts. Ignore the culture’s “ideal” and embrace real life and the real you.

*Losing Weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at Accessed June 18, 2013.