How Much Should You Really Weigh?

    A smiling couple weighing themselves on a scale and smilingYou’ve been trying and trying to get down to a smaller weight…with a very limited amount of success. But, according to the experts, how low do you reallly need to go?

    Guess what: research is showing that you can be above your “ideal” weight and still be healthy.

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    If you’re overweight, losing just 10% of your body weight is associated with a myriad of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, blood cholesterol, and blood sugar, and reducing your risk for heart disease. Not only that, experts say, but this kind of weight loss is easier to attain and maintain, setting you up for success in the long run.

    READ: Tyra Banks: Too Fat To Be A Model?

    Your REAL Weight Goal

    Just as your body temperature is programmed to stay around 98.6 degrees, your body weight is naturally regulated to stay within a range of 10%-20%, says Thomas Wadden, PhD, director of the Center for Weight and Eating Disorders at University of Pennsylvania Medical School. This weight range is known as the “set point.”

    A complex set of hormones, chemicals, and hunger signals help your body naturally maintain your weight within this range, says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD.

    It is not just a matter of genetics, though. Your eating and exercise habits can also help to determine your set point.

    “Overeating swamps the internal regulatory system, and, as a result, the set point increases — which is much easier to do than it is to lower it,” says Wadden. The body adjusts to the higher weight and “resets” the set point to defend the new weight.

    It is difficult, but not impossible, to set your range lower. “With changes in healthy eating and exercise behavior, you can lower your set point,” says Blatner.

    READ: Foods That Fight Cellulite

    Can You Manage 10%?

    Experts recommend that you try losing 10% the old-fashioned way – by slowly changing eating and exercise behaviors, then maintaining this new weight for a few months before trying to lose more. Not only will your body get the signal to lower its “set point,” but you’ll give yourself a chance to get used to new food choices, smaller portions, and regular exercise.

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