Your Ideal Weight
If you're overweight, losing those excess kilos will bring countless health benefits, including lowering your blood pressure, boosting your metabolism, improving your energy levels and lowering your risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. But how do you know when you're the right weight for your height and age, or even relatively close?
Discovering your ideal weight is not as black and white as numbers on a chart - it's much more complex than that. There are several factors to consider, including gender, height, muscle-to-fat ratio and even where you tend to store fat.
Don't Compare - Calculate!
To figure out whether you fall into a healthy weight range or not, you need to do some calculations using the measurements set out below.
Before we start, though, a word of advice: try to avoid comparing how you are now (and how you want to be) with how other people look. We're all individuals, and we're all built in different ways - we're not cookie cut-outs of each other. As Michelle Bridges says: "Comparing our physical selves with others is not just bad; it's disastrous. There can never be a good outcome. There will always be someone who is slimmer, more athletic or more photoshopped."
Having said that, it's fine to be inspired by other people's efforts, which is different from aspiring to look exactly like them. Use inspiration rather than aspiration to help you work towards your health goals - and to be the best version of yourself.
The calculation below will help you work out what an appropriate weight goal might be.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
BMI is a widely used indicator that measures your body fat based on your weight and height. Calculate your BMI with our handy tool.
When BMI is Not Best
Your BMI is a useful tool to determine at a glance whether you fall into the healthy range, but it's not a fool-proof method for everyone. BMI can't distinguish between fat and muscle, so those with greater-than-average muscle mass, such as muscular athletes and bodybuilders, will end up with a high reading while not needing to lose weight.
BMI is also unsuitable for certain populations and individuals, including Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islanders, Asian people, children, pregnant women and the elderly. For all these reasons, you should treat it as a rough guide to be used in tandem with other body-weight indicators.
While BMI is valuable, it doesn't tell the whole story. Measuring your waist is proving to be far more accurate than BMI in indicating your risk for serious weight-related diseases. When it comes to body fat, it's not so much about how much you have as where it's distributed. If you have too much fat around the abdomen - even if you're otherwise slim - you're in the danger zone.
Carrying too much weight around your waist increases your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. Extra waistline fat can creep up on you before you know it, so it's important to keep track of it.
How to Measure Your Waist
For this you'll need to get hold of a measuring tape. Using the centre of your bellybutton as a reference point, position the tape around the middle of your waist, making sure as you bring it around to the front thatit's in line with your belly button. Breathe out and let everything hang out, and now see what the measurement is on the tape.
It's a good idea to take your waist measurement often - and to take it the same way each time to ensure it's accurate.
Waist Measurement and Disease
According to the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines, a waist measurement of 94cm or more for men or 80 cm or more for women is an indicator of increased risk of heart disease. A measurement of more than 102cm for men and 88cm for women puts you at a substantially increased risk.
While the traditional perception is that men tend to carry more kilos around the belly, women have not only caught up in recent years, but they now officially leave men in the dust. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that in 2011-2012, 60.3 percent of men and 66.6 percent of women 18 and over had a high-risk waist circumference.
Tummy fat - also known as "visceral fat" because it nestles around the major organs - releases more hormones and other chemicals that result in rapidly dividing cells, increasing the risk of cancer. This means that women with larger waistlines are more susceptible to bowel, pancreatic and breast cancer. Research has also shown that just 7.6cm to 10.2cm of extra fat around the waist and belly indicates a build-up of fat in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack.
Here's to Your Health
Remember that maintaining a healthy body weight is about much more than how you look - it's a vital element of achieving optimal health and wellbeing, and minimising your risk of serious diseases and conditions.
Being underweight can be just as problematic: it puts you at higher risk of osteoporosis, weakens your immune system and can lead to irregular periods and infertility. Make sure you don't fall into either category - get out your calculator and measuring tape, and start crunching some numbers!