Fitness Articles

Find Your Perfect Weight - Part 1

Setting a Healthy & Achievable Weight Loss Goal

Page 2 of 3

The only real reason to even think in terms of a “normal” or “ideal” body weight is because there is a statistical correlation between your weight and your risk of having certain health problems that can lead to premature death or disability. Although your weight may or may not be the cause of these health problems, it’s clear that people who weigh more—or less—than “normal” are more likely to have these problems.

Experts who study these things have come up with several different methods of estimating your health risks based on your weight and size, as well as a set of calculations that are routinely used to determine whether your weight/size is in the normal range or not. Here are three of the most commonly used calculations:

Body Mass Index (BMI) is simply the number you get when you divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height squared (in centimeters). According to years of health research, the further your BMI deviates from the normal range (whether above or below), the higher your risk for obesity-related health problems (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, heart disease, and bone/joint disorders). Calculate your BMI here. Similarly, you can calculate your goal weight and see if it fits in with these ranges. If not, then your expectations might be unrealistic.

Height/Weight Charts, such as the HANWI formula (below), have been around since the 1950's. BMI has pretty much replaced the older height/weight charts as the most common way to assess health risks related to weight. But variations of these charts are still used today as quick and simple ways to estimate the normal weight range for your height. Here's a simple formula you can use:
  1. Women: Allow 100 pounds for the first 60 inches of height, plus 5 pounds for each additional inch (i.e. 130 pounds for someone that is 66 inches tall). Men: Allow 106 pounds for the first 60 inches of height, plus 6 pounds for each additional inch (i.e. 154 for someone that is 68 inches tall).
  2. The number you get above is the midpoint of the normal range; subtract or add 10% to get the low and high ends (117-143 pounds for the female above, 139-169 pounds for the man).
  3. People of average frame size should weigh close to the midpoint number, while those with large or small frames should be closer to the high or low end of the range. To determine whether you are large, small, or average frame, make a circle around the wrist of your dominant hand at the widest point (over the bones that protrude) with the thumb and middle finger of your opposite hand. If your thumb and finger don’t touch, you are large framed; if they just barely touch, you are medium, and if they overlap you are small framed.
  4. Does your goal weight fit well within these ranges? If not, you might want to adjust it.
One potential problem with both the BMI and height/weight tables is that neither formula distinguishes between fat weight and lean tissue (muscle) weight. BMI, for example, may incorrectly put people with unusually large amounts of muscle weight in the overweight category (even when their level of body fat might be normal), and people with poor muscle tone into the normal category (even when their level of body fat might be excessive). Another drawback to these formulas is that they don’t take into account where you store your fat. That's where this next formula comes in.
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About The Author

Dean Anderson Dean Anderson
Dean Anderson has master's degrees in human services (behavioral psychology/stress management) and liberal studies. His interest in healthy living began at the age of 50 when he confronted his own morbid obesity and health issues. He joined SparkPeople and lost 150 pounds and regained his health. Dean has earned a personal training certification from ACE and received training as a lifestyle and weight management consultant. See all of Dean's articles.

Member Comments

  • I'm 5'3", and the only way I'd get to 115 would be by removing a few key internal organs. *lol* I'm a sturdy, muscly girl with PCOS and man hands, so finding my "ideal" weight is confusing. Right now I'm aiming for 150, which is still seen as too much by these standards... but I'm a rebel. Hang the standards. I never liked that wrist measurement test as I have slender wrists and ginormous man hands. Seriously, my hands are the same length as my six foot plus Marine boyfriend. My fingers are gonna overlap no matter what! Ha! Anyway, I've been down to 160 and it was nice, and I've been down to 150 with Mono and ended up looking facially gaunt... so I'm thinking 150 the right way will do me good. Once I'm there I'll see if I should go further or maintain. - 1/2/2016 5:51:14 PM
  • Ok so I have been trying to decide on a realistic goal weight for a while, and this article didn't really help me that much. At 5'7", HANWI says I "should" weigh between 121-148, and my Wiifit says I should aim for 140 (BMI 22); I currently weight 235ish. I just don't think that is realistic for me. The frame thing doesn't make sense, I think I have a large frame but my fingers overlap slightly so that means I have a small frame? The lowest I've weighed since middle school was just over 150, after completing military basic training and I wasn't able to maintain that. I was happy in the 180-190 range after I had my son, so I'd like to get back to that but I'd still be considered borderline obese by BMI. My blood pressure/choleste
    rol/health is decent although I have PCOS. Also, my hip to waist ratio is already .80 where it should be for a lower health risk, I'm very much a pear shape. - 10/8/2015 9:09:21 PM
  • I don't think these charts are entirely accurate like many posters have also said. Three years ago, I was in the best shape of my adult life at 180 pounds standing at 5"4 and lot of that was muscle. I gained that weight back and hit 248 pounds before I weighed myself and knew that I had to start doing something - or die. I'm down 17 pounds and according to this my BMI is still in the high 30s. I don't feel that way. I know I'll never be skinny, it's not in my genes. But I'll aim for a healthy 160 pd frame and stick with that. - 9/15/2015 7:21:46 PM
  • Like another person who commented, I tried out the Ideal Weight Calculator on the web. I was curious to see what it said for me. For gender, age, and height I input female, age 40, height 5'4". The results were as follows:

    Based on the Robinson formula (1983), your ideal weight is 123.0 lbs
    Based on the Miller formula (1983), your ideal weight is 129.1 lbs
    Based on the Devine formula (1974), your ideal weight is 120.6 lbs
    Based on the Hamwi formula (1964), your ideal weight is 119.7 lbs
    Based on the healthy BMI recommendation, your recommended weight is 107.8 lbs - 145.6 lbs

    I have a large frame and tend to be muscular. At my healthiest weight (when I was in high school, walked to school, and had 2 phys ed classes) I weighed 140. At one point I got down to 135 and people started saying I looked too thin, unhealthy thin. One of my best friends asked if I was anorexic. So I gained 5 pounds. I felt good and I was healthy. I don't think I could function if I got below 130.

    One question that has never been answered for me (and maybe I just haven't asked the right person or looked in the right place) is how were these "ideal" weight ranges determined? What parameters were used to establish them?

    Since every person is different, no two body make-ups are exactly the same, how can one weight number be "ideal"? The BMI gives a range. However it says I am overweight above 145, when I know that I am comfortable and healthy anywhere between 140 and 160.

    So again I have to ask, how were these baselines decided? And why are they religiously adhered to, when there are so many other contributing factors regarding a healthy weight, like muscle mass, frame size, energy/endurance, and blood pressure, to name a few, that they do not address?

    I can understand the need for a goal to shoot for, but it seems there should be more to decide that than how tall you are (the Ideal Weight Calculator gave me the same results for age 18 as for age 40). And I still question how the baseline was established.

    It seems to me that these tools provide o... - 4/26/2015 5:29:12 PM
  • I just used the Ideal Weight Calculator found on the web. It asks for gender, age, height, then gives the weight range. I chose female, age 30, 5'6" for the height so it would be similar to the example in the blog. Here are the results.

    Based on the Robinson formula (1983), your ideal weight is 130.5 lbs
    Based on the Miller formula (1983), your ideal weight is 135.1 lbs
    Based on the Devine formula (1974), your ideal weight is 130.7 lbs
    Based on the Hamwi formula (1964), your ideal weight is 129.4 lbs
    Based on the healthy BMI recommendation, your recommended weight is 114.6 lbs - 154.9 lbs

    So, there are some differences in the "stanard" weights based on whichever "expert" you're following. - 4/15/2015 1:25:04 PM
    When i try to submit a height for my BMI it keeps telling me to enter a numeric number.. apparently the number 4 isn't numeric enough for them. so I dont get a BMI number here.

    - 1/15/2015 7:08:27 AM
  • Who makes up these "rules?"

    I'm 5'0" which means I should be 100 pounds? Are they nuts? I'd be skeletal. I'm comfortable around 130, which is heavy to some but perfect for me. My teenage daughter is 5'1" and about 116 lbs. Her doctor says her weight is perfect with enough leeway to go a few pounds above or below that number. She's a dancer and a runner and more curvy than muscular.

    Whoever came up with a base weight of 100 pounds for 60" is way off. They need to add at least 10 pounds to that. - 12/14/2014 11:00:13 PM
  • I'm 5'2" with a fairly athletic build and med-large frame (easily put on muscle, thanks to years of playing sports). HANWI says I should be between 110-121?! I'd look sickly if I was that small. I think I'll go with my current goal of 135, which is higher than the table says, but is the last weight where I felt comfortable in my skin. If I go by BMI tables, 135 is close to the top of the "healthy" range for my height which is something, I guess. - 8/27/2014 2:23:50 PM
    I agree that these charts are very low--especially for people who work out and have muscles! I'm 5'2 and, according to this, should weight from 99 to 121. I weighed 99 in high school and got accused of having an eating disorder (I was a dancer and played soccer and had a crazy-high metabolism). Anything under 110, I'm a stick. I'm 131 right now, which, though not overweight, is high for me. I look great (and wear about a size 2-4) at about 122. I like a weight at which I feel healthy and strong, not skinny and weak. - 1/23/2014 1:34:41 PM
  • I was on Dr Oz's original Transformation Nation program. Went to W.W. for the initial weigh in and end weigh in. It was recommended because I have so much leg muscle that the right weight for my ht and build was 125lbs to 128lbs. With all of the combination stresses of my neighbors in my apt building and work that this darn wt is not budging. When things calm down, then my wt drops. The last 20lbs seem like they have made my body their home. When I become of retirement age and get rid of the work stresses, I will have more time to focus on more variety in my workouts. I also am planning on moving out of here. - 10/7/2013 10:20:31 PM
  • As far as I can tell, going for a BMI of 25 seems like it would be fine. I'm 5'9, so that would mean anywhere in the 160s, of course at 227, I've still got a ways to go, but at least I'm not 309 anymore. Mostly, I'm just thinking about "onederland" at the moment, and then I'll go from there. - 10/7/2013 4:05:58 PM
  • I am 4'11" tall...which means I would weigh 95 lbs! I would look like a stick and be ill at that weight. Currently, I have maintained a weight of 125 lbs for eight months; I spoke with my doctor, and with my WW coach (that was how I started my journey, finishing with SparkPeople). It is a little high, but I have not been able to loose more weight despite a 1500-calorie a day diet, along with fairly vigorous exercise 4-5 days a week. I walk at least 2 miles every day (don't drive) and although I have a desk job, I do have to run a lot of errands, up and down two flights of stairs.

    Weight is subjective; I am no longer pre-diabetic and my knees aren't painful anymore. I'm probably healthier than I ever have been. - 10/7/2013 10:01:51 AM
  • I find it troubling that one of the criteria listed for ideal body weight is "You can accept your body as it is, without feeling uncomfortably self-conscious". This conflation of self-acceptance with a person's weight plays a significant role in many eating disorders; a woman with anorexia reading this article may well view it as encouragement to continue to starve herself, because she's still not happy with her body (Note: anorexia is not exclusive to women, but there are more women than men afflicted with it and gender neutral pronouns are a pain).

    Even for those without eating disorders, this conflation is problematic. Body acceptance has to come independent of aesthetics, or it will never come at all. I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought I'd be happier if I lost weight, only to find that instead of hating my belly I hated my breasts.

    We shouldn't be losing weight because we hate our bodies; we should be doing it because we love our bodies and want to treat them with respect. - 9/21/2013 7:02:00 AM
  • something i love about height weight charts, they say that my weight should be between 119 and 130. but i know my body cant physically get below 140 unless i starve myself. im a large framed but athletic build so it confuses those charts lol. im at my healthiest between 140-155. i usually stayed between 140-150 but i can go up to 160 and not feel any side effects. im working on getting down to 140 but i also know i was last that weight when i was 15. im not that far from 15 but i know i may not reach 140 but i should be able to reach 150 at least. right now my goal is 170 just so im a couple sizes smaller for my wedding in may. still have 90 lbs to go. - 9/12/2013 3:25:41 PM
  • I was having a conversation with a lady about my age (47) who I noticed had lost weight and I made a commit to her about how great she looked and what did she do when the cravings started. Her response was powerful, "my body doesn't ask for it anymore"!
    So, in response to these weight determining guides, I will let my body be my guide for it tells me when I have eaten too much because it can hardly move and feels bloated,, when I need to get moving because it gets restless, when it is stressed because the acid reflux acts up and when it is exhausted because it begins to start feeling tired and unable to focus.
    Our bodies communicate to us exactly what it needs and tells us when we are doing something that is not working for it everyday.
    I believe the bottom line is we all for the most part know in our hearts where our weight should be and we are the only ones who control what goes in our mouths. That being said, I am glad I read this article and had an opportunity to put my 2 cents in (for what it is worth)...Have the best day of your life because you deserve it!! - 6/2/2013 9:02:41 AM

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