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Do We Need To Strive For Normal Numbers?

In medicine, we are constantly dealing with “normal vs. abnormal” numbers:

  • Normal blood pressure: less than 130/80
  • Normal fasting blood sugar: less than 100
  • Normal fasting cholesterol: less than 200
  • Normal triglyceride levels: less than 150
  • Normal Vitamin D levels: 30-100

There are many other “numbers” in medicine that are used by doctors to make decisions as to whether to recommend medical intervention or not.

Let’s head to the weight control arena and the “normal”:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI): less than 25
  • Percentage body fat: less than 25% for a male, less than 30% for a female

Here is an important point: “Normal” is not some exact number that defines “health vs risk”.  As an example, is the person with a blood pressure of 135/85 at major risk for a heart attack or stroke compared to the person with a BP of 129/79?  Similarly, is the person with a blood sugar of 105 at much more risk for diabetes and the associated complications compared to the person with a fasting blood sugar of 97?

Focusing back on weight, the same concept exists:  A person with a BMI of 26 (overweight range) and a percentage body fat of 32% is most certainly at not much more ”risk” than the person with a BMI of 24 and a percentage body fat of 28%.

The point:  “Success” in your weight control endeavors should not be based on reaching “normal” numbers.  Progressive improvement in the BMI and percentage body fat will, over time, progressively diminish the chances of developing the significant co-morbidities of being obese/overweight.  On the aesthetic front, similarly, having a dress size of 12 may not be the goal of an 8, but it sure will make you happier than only fitting into a 16.

So, try not to look at your weight control journey as only being “successful” only if you reach the “normal” BMI and body composition numbers.  Disappointment breeds the “I give up” mentality so please try not to strive to reach “normal” as a yardstick of success.  Keep that weight coming off 1 pound at a time and eventually, goals will be reached.

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