Successful lap-band weight loss surgery patients set weight loss goals
Whether you had weight loss surgery or not, setting your goal is personal. You must set it for yourself. Remember, in the surgical world we consider it a success if a patient loses 65 per cent of their excess body weight; our goal is to get patients out of a state of dangerous morbid obesity into an area where they are far healthier. But to get to a goal, you need to be active. Be pro-active—set your goal.
Body Mass Index (BMI) - a tool to determine your personal weight loss goal
There are many ways to measure what your goal should be. You could determine that you want your body to be in the safe ranges of fat content as measured by some device. You could determine that you want a specific weight, or a specific BMI (a height-weight ratio), or a specific measurement (getting to a size 6 dress—although for most men this isn’t a reasonable goal). A combination of these might be reasonable.
|Body Mass Index (BMI) is a measurement used universally to determine if a patient’s weight is appropriate for their height. The criticism of this measurement is that some people have a high BMI while their body is composed primarily of muscle. In years of doing weight loss surgery I have yet to have a patient come into my office with a high BMI, all of it being muscle, wanting to have weight loss surgery. I have certain friends who are professional athletes who have low body fat, high muscle content and a higher than normal BMI (although none in the obese category). But none of my athletic friends asked me for weight loss surgery, nor have any of them asked for advice about how to lose weight. There are people who want to argue these points (see the week in review of the New York Times, November 28, 2004).|
The ideal body weight was determined simply by determining at what weight most people die. Statistics showed there was an increase in death in patients who had a BMI of greater than 24. Those who argue the point state that a BMI of 25 was right where people were dying, but people with a BMI of less than 25 were also dying. There is a simple explanation. In the 1960s, those who were below a BMI of 25 usually had lost weight before they died from their disease.
However, the most compelling argument that a low BMI equals longevity is the Willard Scott show. Willard Scott, the now retired weatherman for NBC, used to show pictures of people who were 100 years old or older and wished them happy birthday. Never did you see someone who was 100 years old who needed to lose 30 pounds. Nor have I seen an 80-year-old who needed to lose 80 pounds.
For rats the argument is clear. If you want a rat to live a long time you don’t feed it so much. So you are not a rat, but consider some of your family members—you might have some rat genes in you. Caloric restriction is the most potent anti-aging tool physicians have. It doesn’t involve a shot, and it doesn’t involve taking a pill or eating some strange dish of Yak dung that keeps some mountain people alive for years.
Back to the topic—a certain percent of fat in the body is healthy...
...and as a goal one could have their body fat measured. As your body fat content reaches a reasonable level you may be satisfied that you have reached your goal, but the only way to be certain is to measure your fat content. Personal accountability is the first step. If you are convinced you are a lot of muscle and don’t need to lose weight—why are you reading this book?
Perhaps one of the best things you can do is determine your body composition, or how much of you is made up of muscle, fat, water, bones. There are a number of body composition analyzers on the market, from the very expensive scans to some simple bathroom scales that have built-in fat analyzers. As with all tools, they do have their limitations, but we encourage patients to find some place to have their body composition analyzed. The more you know about your body, the easier it is to reach your goal—which is to decrease your body fat content to a level that is healthy.
Another reason to have an ongoing measurement of your body’s fat content, as opposed to weight alone, is so that you will not mistake your weight for muscle when you increase your exercise. Often we have patients who come into the office upset that their weight has not changed more than a few pounds even though they have been faithfully going to the gym or are on a walking program.
Once we analyzed their body content they were pleased to find out that their weight, while remaining the same, was now made up of less fat and more muscle. Scales which measure body fat content are available from a number of retail stores or on-line. You might check www.tanita.com for a list of stores that carry their product.
A BMI between 20 and 24 is a reasonable goal. A BMI over 25 is considered overweight, and a BMI below 18.5 is considered to be unhealthy also. Check the table of body mass index that is found in the next section. Find your height and follow it across to the first two columns where you will see a weight for a BMI of 20 and the next column for 24. Somewhere between these two numbers is your goal.
Accept no less than your weight loss goal
It is usually at this point that people begin to think “I never weighed that much, not even in high school.” Or, “I have big bones, and can never weigh that and stay healthy.” Those arguments remind me of first stage of Death and Dying—denial. This is your goal—this is what you should weigh, and you can be healthy and enjoy life at this goal. If you accept less than this goal, then you are cheating yourself.
Whether you had weight loss surgery or if you simply need to lose some excess weight, you need to set a goal to make yourself the healthiest that you can be, and this is the easiest means of doing it. Don’t be afraid—it may not happen this week or next, it probably won’t happen for at least a year—but today you can make a choice. You can choose what your weight will be next year. The choice is yours. Then again, you could hope that Yak dung will help.