Before anyone should start putting a plan together you should do the following things:
Measure your height, your weight, your neck circumference, your waist circumference, and your hip circumference.
To do this all you will need is a set of accurate scales, a tape measure, and possibly an additional measuring tool to measure your height if a tape measure is not enough.
Once you have measured the above areas, it is important to make a note of this in your diary and each week you repeat the measurement process. Certain measurements like height will not change, but you may see some fluctuations depending on your nutrition, habits, and training behaviours.
A health warning should be introduced here, most people will see the scale in triple digits and think they are severely obese. Which is frankly not the case. Yes, some people may need to be referred to a General Practitioner (GP) at their local Doctor Surgery because of their weight or waist circumference, but it is important to know there are multiple factors that need to be considered before you should act.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
It’s a calculation considering someone’s height and weight to determine if they are a healthy weight (NHS, 2018).
The National Health Service states it is important to consider your height, weight, age, sex, ethnic group, and activity level when calculating your BMI (NHS, 2018). This information will provide a Health Professional with the information to best advise you on how to move forward (NHS, 2018). BMI can classify you as either: underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obese (NHS, 2018).
If you are interested in losing weight it is most likely you have been told you are fat, overweight, or obese. Something I want to say to you if someone says you are fat, then chances are they are not the sort of person you should be listening to.
Fat is not something someone can be. You can have excess body fat, but you can’t be fat.
Fat is an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet (NHS, 2020). Fat is also used an energy source, cell membrane structure, protection for the nervous system, production of hormones, transportation of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), and a source of essential fatty acids (Coulson, 2013). Therefore, you may be overweight, or obese not fat. In summary: if your BMI is 18.5 or under you are under weight, between 18.5 and 24.9 you are at a healthy weight, between 25 and 29.9 and you are overweight, between and 30 and 39.9 you are obese, and over 40 you are severely obese (Obesity Action, 2022).
Another important factor to consider is waist size.
Storing weight in the form of body fat around your waist can cause health problems such as heart disease or diabetes (WebMD, 2021).
Having excess body fat around your waist is known as Abdominal Obesity, and fat surrounding your organs is known as Visceral Fat (WebMD, 2021). Having visceral fat can lead to higher cholesterol, higher blood pressure, and higher blood glucose levels (WebMD, 2021). So, it is important to note that having too much body fat around your waist can lead to health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and type 2 diabetes (WebMD, 2021).
Regardless of height or BMI if you are a man with a waist circumference of 94 cm (37 inches) or more, and a woman with a waist circumference of 80 cm (31.5 inches) or more, you should try to lose weight (NHS, 2018). It is important to note that if you are a man with a waist circumference of 102 cm (40 inches) or more, and a woman with a waist circumference of 88 cm (34 inches) or more then you should contact your GP (NHS, 2018).
I would recommend that if you are overweight or obese according to BMI and have a waist circumference above what is recommended then you should lose weight for your own health.
The reason for both these figures is because the more information the better and BMI doesn’t account for lean body mass and body fat (NHS, 2018). Muscle weighs heavier than fat so someone might be fitter or healthier but have a BMI stating they are overweight or obese but have a healthy waistline so if you are in doubt speak to a GP. (NHS, 2018). Therefore, if you are not obese or overweight then then I would recommend you maintain your weight or look to develop muscle mass or decreasing body fat rather focusing on your weight.
How to lose weight?
Considering the information already discussed the key to lose weight is a combination of a good diet and exercise (NHS, 2018). If you are all cleared to do this by a GP, I would use a calorie calculator such as the one on Calculator.net to calculate the number of calories you need for the activity you do per week.
You will need to note your age, gender, height, weight, and activity to get an accurate reading. To ensure 0.5 kilograms of weight loss you will need to consume 500 calories less than the amount needed to maintain your weight. This can be easily managed by eating more protein in your diet to fight off hunger.
This is something that I can support you with if you wish to purchase a nutritional coaching package. It is also possible to decrease your calories by 1000 calories to burn up to 1 kilogram per week but if you are exercising, I would advise against this.
There is a myth in fitness that the only way to lose weight is to do cardio.
Although certain cardiovascular activities can burn more calories, resistance training can also burn calories during and after a workout takes place. It is important to be active and you are more likely to do your workouts more often when you enjoy them.
I would recommend you do full body workouts at a medium to high intensity. For example, you could do 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps at a weight which is at 70-75% of your 1 rep max. 1 Rep Max is the maximum you can lift in one attempt, once you know this per exercise you can calculate what intensity you want to train (Coulson, 2013). Attempting to do 10-12 reps is a good way to do resistance training at a medium to high intensity which will burn more calories which is important in losing weight or decreasing body fat.
Whatever exercises you like to do, a training programme can be designed for you to help you reach your goal and I can help plan a programme that will enable you to achieve your goal of losing weight.
In my opinion, only those with a waist circumference and a weight that is overweight or obese should lose weight.
Understanding the number of calories you need to obtain, for your height and weight, is important in being able to lose weight. The amount and intensity of your training will also play a part in allowing you to lose weight. If you are obese, you should speak to a General Practitioner before seeking out a personal trainer or gym membership.
This is for your safety, depending on the severity of your obesity you may require further support in improving your health. As a Level 4 Obesity and Diabetes specialist I would strongly recommend going through the exercise referral process if you are obese, however this does not seem to be being offered in most areas, so if your GP is happy for you to exercise then drop me a message and I will design a personalised weight loss programme to help you get to a healthy weight.
Coulson, M. (2013). The Complete Guide to Personal Training. Bloomsbury. London, UK.
NHS (2018, November 5th) BMI healthy weight calculator. NHS. (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/bmi-calculator/) (Published)
NHS (2020, April 14th) Fat: the facts. NHS. (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-types/different-fats-nutrition/) (Published)
Obesity Action (2022, May 7th) What is Obesity & Severe Obesity? (https://www.obesityaction.org/get-educated/understanding-your-weight-and-health/what-is-obesity/) (Viewed)
WebMD (2021, June 22nd) What Is Waist to Hip Ratio? WebMD. (https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/what-is-waist-to-hip-ratio) (Published)