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Weight goals

What should you weigh? No two people are the same. You can't look up an ``ideal weight'' in a table and conclude you're a fatty if you're above it or wasting away if you're slightly below some magic number.

The following tables provide general weight guidelines for men and women. The height in these tables is measured barefoot, and the weights assume no clothes.

``Frame'' is a measure of how robustly you're built. If your nickname is ``Spider,'' you probably have a small frame; if ``Magilla,'' you're likely a large. In any case the overlap between the categories is so large and the variation from person to person so great there's no reason to worry precisely which category you fall into.

There's really no such thing as an ``ideal weight'' for anybody. The human body is highly adaptable; as long as you're within five or ten pounds of the optimum you'll be fine. It's far more important to find a weight at which you feel good, one you have no trouble maintaining, than to struggle for a number printed in a table, churned out by an equation in all likelihood, that has nothing to do with your own body.


Optimum weight: Men

Height Frame
Feet Inches Small Medium Large



Optimum weight: Women

Height Frame
Feet Inches Small Medium Large

4 890-97 94-105103-117
4 992-10097-108106-120
5 0101-109106-119115-130
5 1104-112110-122118-134
5 2107-116113-126122-138
5 3110-119117-130125-142
5 4114-123120-134129-146
5 5118-127124-138133-150
5 6122-131128-142136-154
5 7126-136132-147140-159
5 8130-140136-151145-164
5 9134-145140-156149-168
6 0149-161153-170162-184

My own experience taught me to be skeptical of recommended weight tables. When I began my diet in 1988, my goal was 165, my weight in those halcyon college days of fitness and the bottom of my diet in the 1970s. This is close to the middle of the published range for a person of my height and build. When I reached 165, I still felt fat; I was obviously packing fat in all the usual places. Plus, I was having no trouble continuing the diet and weight loss was proceeding at a steady pace. So...I decided to continue until the inner tube was deflated.

It wasn't until I reached 155 that I began to feel the fat monster capitulate. At 155 I had no obvious paunch and the difference of 10 pounds, much more perceptible than 10 pounds between, say, 195 and 205, made me feel much better. I was advancing through the exercise program by then and I could feel how the additional weight reduction contributed to my fitness.

I initially tried to stabilise my weight at 155, but I discovered a tendency to creep upward from that point. It seemed I had to constantly watch my diet on a daily basis to remain at 155. Feedback systems often have points of natural stability. Experience had taught me that 165 was such a stable point, but I didn't feel good there. I'd learned that 155 was unstable. So, I decided to see if there was a stable point below 155 I could be happy with. In due course, I arrived at 145. That was it. I haven't deviated from that weight by more than five pounds for over two years.

I'm sure you're not interested in the details of my weight, but the story is worth recounting because it points out how you, as I, must find your own individual weight goal in the process of reducing and maintaining your weight. I'm a person who'd tended to overweight all his life, with an average build, and yet I settled at a weight slightly below the published recommended minimum for a small framed person my height.

Choose your goal, but prepare for refinements as you approach it and discover where you feel the best. Watching the trend line will help you find a goal that's easy to live with.

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Next: Diet planning Up: Getting ready Previous: Getting ready

By John Walker