The ideal body weight is hard to achieve in America. With so much wealth and unhealthy foods, it's so easy to gain weight! Unfortunately, with the pandemic raging on and second child to take care of, I've gained more weight.
I originally wrote this post on May 21, 2012 when I was 35 and I'm revisiting it again at the end of November 2020. I'm currently back up to around 172 pounds and I want to get back to the ideal body weight again.
If there's one thing we should all do, it is to eat right, exercise more, and lose weight! The coronavirus is really hurting people more who are obese.
The Ideal Body Weight Struggle
At the beginning of the year, I discovered that I was not in ideal weight and it pissed me off. At 167-169 pounds, I thought I was doing pretty good for a middle-aged guy standing 5′ 10″ until spending a couple hours of research online for the post. It turns out that based on the majority of reports, I was actually about ~10 pounds overweight, which is a lot since I don't weight that much to begin with.
With tennis season just three months away at the time, I didn't want to be out of shape. My teammates were counting on me. In competitive sports there's the triumvirate mind, body, and skills for winning.
The body is the EASIEST thing to optimize, which means during competition against high caliber opponents, they are all in great shape. Having an ideal body weight is standard (ever see an overweight professional tennis player?), and therefore one is able to focus their energy on mental strength and specific skills.
For well over a decade, I had an enormous mental block that I had to overcome. I told myself it was IMPOSSIBLE to get under 160 pounds. This was even though I was a lean 155 pounds in college. I kept saying there was no way I could break 160 because of work and a slower metabolism. I accepted weight creep and the ideology that people automatically gain 10 pounds every decade.
So Many Excuses Not To Lose Weight
I've heard and made all the excuses before: “I'm big boned“, “I have broad shoulders“, “I'm allergic to healthy foods“, “Health food is expensive“, “How am I supposed to work out when I have a desk job?“, “I've never been ideal weight” and so forth. Deep down, we all know our excuses are bullshit, and we simply like to eat and relax more than we like to exercise.
Working out in the gym is one of the most boring and pointless things to do, unless of course there are incredibly attractive people around you. Can you imagine people 100 years ago spending money to go lift weights in a gym? That's just dumb.
Instead, people would get there workouts by doing something productive like hunting, running errands, and playing sports. I visited Olympia, Greece in the Fall of 2011, and even back then people engaged in physical activity for purpose (Olympics) rather than just trying to look good.
I can run for at most 35 minutes before I give up in exhaustion. Yet, I can play 4.5 hours of tennis before passing out. The reason is because when you're having fun, you don't even realize you're exercising. It's the same thing with work. The mind is that powerful.
As a result, I encourage everyone who hates to go to the gym to find a physical activity they enjoy doing. Hiking and biking are low skill sports that come to mind. Surfing, kite-boarding, and snowboarding are high skill sports at the other end of the spectrum. And then of course there is tennis, soccer, walking a golf course, basketball, and booze ball.
After three and a half months, I've lost about 10 pounds and I'd like to go through the checklist of how I got there. Hopefully this post will provide some weight loss takeaways for you to get motivated, and also keep me motivated to stay in shape.
The Best Ways To Lose Weight
Here are the best ways to get the ideal body weight.
Every two hours spent writing will be matched by 30 minutes of exercise.
So long as I keep this 4:1 mental-to-physical ratio, I will at least not blow out. I regularly am online 20 hours a week, therefore I will exercise 5 hours a week. Simple as apple pie with vanilla ice cream on top.
Review: Computer work alone has probably created more spare tires than Goodyear. This 4:1 mental-to-physical ratio has largely been followed. I haven't been super stringent, but I do know that for many weeks, I've worked out way more than the 4:1 ratio would dictate. Take playing 6 sets over 4.5 hours for example. I didn't end up working online for 18 hours over the next 24 hours. Instead, I probably spent 18 hours online over the next 6 days, but in those 6 days, I played another 4 hours of tennis.
Do 60 push-ups and 150 sit-ups for every basketball and football game watched.
Watching sports is bad for an athlete, because it’s a double negative. Instead of playing sports ourselves, we’re rotting away our bodies and our minds. Not good that I’m a college sports fanatic.
Review: TV is a waste of time for the most part. There was this one week stretch when Jeremy Lin of the Knicks blew up that I watched all his games and followed my push-ups and sit-ups routine. I also watched a lot of March Madness and followed the routine as well. But now, I probably do 60 push-ups and 150 sit-ups only twice a week because I'm not watching much at all. The goal is to really replace watching with playing.
Eat more slowly to give the body time to know it's eaten.
It takes 15-20 minutes for the body to know one is full. Hence, that 15-20 minutes is a crucial period where one can overeat and gain a lot of weight. The solution is to eat slowly and be mindful of everything I put in my mouth.
Review: This was an easy goal to accomplish. Instead of gorging myself like a hungry hippo as soon as the food comes out, I give thanks and reflect on my travels abroad where food is a luxury. I also began serving everyone at the table first, before digging in myself. By doing so, I've added about 5-10 minutes on average per meal, which has helped me not over eat.
Eat vegetarian 40% of the time.
The system will either be 2 out of 5 meals a day vegetarian, or eat vegetarian 3 days a week. With this mindset, I hope to then average 40% of the time eating vegetarian and more raw foods. Eating vegetarian feels great, is good for digestion, and could very well be cheaper. I will also consciously reduce dairy and sugar from my diet.
Review: My diet has drastically changed. I've gone from 30% vegetarian to 75% vegetarian now (3 out of 4 or 4 out of 5 meals are vegetarian). I've sought out all the best vegetarian and organic restaurants in San Francisco, and have found the food to be delicious! One of the key barriers to not eating more vegetarian is not being able to find good vegetarian food. In big cities, one just has to look to discover they are all over the place.
I've cut out pretty much all low quality meats from my meals, and have replaced the cubes of chicken and beef with with tofu. I've actually begun to crave good vegetarian food and feel a little sick eating meat. A mental shift has begun. Alas, I can still eat a dry aged rib-eye no problem, but haven't done so this year come to think of it, so maybe not! I don't drink soda or juice and I hardly ever eat chocolate or candy. I do believe sugar kills.
Stop ordering the nicest, most expensive food during client meals!
When things are “free”, it’s easy to order the most expensive and highest caloric item on the menu! This is partly why you don’t want to pay more taxes to the government, because they will spend your money unwisely.
Instead of thinking about the most delicious thing on the menu, I’ll consider the most delicious and healthiest items. Perhaps items such as beet salad, mussels in white wine sauce, skinless chicken breasts, lamb chops instead of massive prime ribs, and so forth.
Review: Another really easy goal that has been accomplished. I look for quality over quantity now. I'm cognizant of the really buttery and cheesy dishes and try to avoid. I've taken my overall wining and dining down to a minimum and have replaced client activities with tennis and golf now that the weather has improved.
Play tennis 3 times a week on average for 2 hours each session.
This is automatic, as I’ve had this routine for 3 years. I would play more, but I injured my elbow and shoulder. Hence, a solution is to fix my injury so I can play 4 times a week.
Review: Automatic indeed. I love tennis and I will play until my knees break. My elbow and shoulder injuries are now healed thanks to re-reading of Dr. Sarno's, “Healing Back Pain” that also delves into tendinitis. The book is a life changer and I recommend it to all!
I'm pretty sure if you follow the above weight loss goals, and tailor some to your own likings, you'll lose your weight over the next three months as well. Try drinking more of your vegetables and fruits for breakfast for more energy. Meanwhile, consider an occasional all raw meal a week.
Below is a review of the ideal body weight charts for men and women which pissed me off and got me motivated.
The Ideal Body Weight For Men
|Height in Feet&Inches||Small Frame||Medium Frame||Large Frame|
The Ideal Body Weight For Women
|Height in Feet&Inches||Small Frame||Medium Frame||Large Frame|
Definition of medium-frame: Your middle finger and thumb just touch when you hold your wrist. You are large-framed if your fingers do not touch. You are small-framed if your fingers overlap. I am medium-frame.
My Keys To Losing Weight
If you incorporate a healthier way of life as part of your everyday routine, losing weight becomes surprisingly easy.
I didn't even bother weighing myself more than once every two weeks because I could feel the difference. The jeans felt looser, and that was reward unto itself.
Nothing was really forced except for doing push-ups and sit-ups while watching sports on TV. Even then, I didn't mind because they are simple exercises that allow me to build my core and feel less guilty about wasting time.
If you are sufficiently pissed off, then you will do things to no longer be pissed off.
I spent several hours doing research and writing the first post because I was annoyed that for over 15 years, I thought I was in good shape. I also had a mental block since college that there was no way I could ever get under 160 pounds again. My mind already prevented me from getting back into ideal weight before I had begun!
When your reasons for losing weight go beyond vanity, you'll lose weight much easier.
I made it a mission to drop the pounds due to the upcoming USTA tennis league season. I joined a new team and wanted to prove myself as a valuable member. The only way I could keep starting was if I kept winning.
So far, so good as my partner and I are 6-0 and have been obliterating our opponents by an average score of 6-2, 6-1. We haven't lost a set yet, and plan to keep it this way when we head into playoffs. By getting in shape, I was also able to get bumped up to 5.0, a top 1% tennis level.
Sports is just one example of losing weight beyond vanity.
We can get in shape for our spouse, or for our children who hope to see us live for a very long time. If you are super patriotic, perhaps getting fit for your country might help lower the crushing healthcare cost burden as well.
It's important to stay mindful of the millions of people around the world who are malnourished or starving in order to never overeat again.
We aren't even being asked to help them, just ourselves! The CDC forecasts a 42% obesity rate by 2030 (as of 5/9/12) which is predicted to place a USD 550 billion burden on health care costs. It's important to stop making excuses as to why a certain weight is unachievable and start believing it is possible. The diet is the biggest thing one needs to change, and then exercise. If you can change your diet, I think you'll be 70% of the way there.
Come to grips with reality.
My sense of reality was slightly warped. At 167-170 pounds, I told myself for 10+ years that I was pretty fit for a guy my height who works all day and blogs all night. I look at plenty of folks around me who are my height and 20-40 pounds heavier and conclude that I must be alright. The problem is, I live in America, where the obesity rate is higher than the rest of the world!
Just go anywhere in Asia, Europe, or South America, and you will immediately notice the difference. For some reason, I forgot what I used to look like due to the layers upon layers of mental blankets. The reality is that America is not reality. The reality is that millions of people in the world do not consume the way we consume.
We can have all the money in the world, but if we don't have our health, we might as well have nothing.
Nobody knows when the end is, but everybody does know what it's like to live now. By being a healthier weight, hopefully we will reduce the number of costly doctors visits, and increase our chances for living a longer, happier life.
Hopefully I'll be able to comfortable float in the 155-160lbs range and not creep back up to the 165-170 range. It's going to be hard while on vacation, but doing things like writing this post and staying mindful should really help.
Just think about all the times you've been sick. Wouldn't you give anything to be healthy again? Stay in the ideal weight range and live healthier. If you don't want to do it for yourself, stay in shape for your children! Your goal should to be apart of your children's lives for as long as possible.
With two children ages 3.5 and 11 months, I need to stay healthy for the next 35 years at least.
The Ideal Weight Pisses Me Off
Don't Waste Time Cooking Your Own Food At Home
Readers, if you've had a weight loss goal, how have you progressed year-to-date? What are some of the things you've done to get there? What are some of the challenges? Do these charts piss you off like it pissed me off when I first discovered them?
PS: The Body Mass Index is a popular metric you should use to combine with the above charts. Everybody's ideal weight is different, and only you can decide what feels and looks right to you.
45 thoughts on “The Ideal Body Weight: Finally Losing The Last 10 Pounds”
I’m in the small frame window for my height, woohoo! I’ve been trying to lose weight for the last ~45 days and it’s slowly paying off. My goal was to lose 4 pounds and I managed to reach that goal and recently beat it by a couple more pounds. Eating less overall plus less sugar and dairy have really helped. Plus getting more low impact exercise. Maybe I can lose another 2 pounds before the year is up! Great post
Congratulation on losing those pounds! People should not think of losing excessive weight as an arduous task like going to the gym or eating health food. If they do not have the time to exercise, they can try to insert exercise in their daily activity like walking to the grocery, taking the stairs, or basically walking whenever they can. Also, eating healthily can be made fun and savory. Just plan your meals ahead! And consistency is key. It is easier to lose weight than to maintain it.
Nice work Sam! I too am 5’10” and weigh 165 pounds. I’m pretty lucky in that I’ve been the same weight since college. I do need to exercise more though.
Great Job Sam! As far as any of my health goals other than exercising 2 or 3 times a week I have failed miserably and it sucks
I’m fairly disciplined from years of practice in exercise and diet. My weight is okay, but I need to work on my flexibility. I used to do a bit more Yoga and I’d like to practice a bit more each week. Personally, I think your weight vs your current height seems fine.
I am actually in the midst of a self induced fitness challenge now. I have a handful of excuses that will rationalize how I put on 25+ pounds since last fall – but no more. While my ratio to work and physical activity wasn’t as exact as yours (thinking about stealing it :)) I have jumped back into my pre-last fall routine. The one thing that keeps me fired up is being at the gym and mentally remembering what I was doing only to find out I can’t now. So I’m giving myself a few months to get back on the wagon mostly just to feel better about myself but summer is a great motivator. Also eating cleaner isn’t necessarily more expensive but it does take a lot more planning.
Congrats on your weight loss! It’s all about motivation in the end. We can do the cost-benefit analysis, but until we find the motivation…
I’ve always been on the small side. My problem has often been fitness. I am currently working on that part. I am working the Insanity program in addition to the rest of my work. Which most of these days is outdoors in the yard- mowing, cutting trees, etc. I also have my dogs and I try to get in a run when I can or work in some pull-ups when I go by the bar I have at home.
Yep, pretty sure I’m pretty average, although maybe my quads and calf muscles are in the higher percentile due to tennis. Body fat is around 12% now. I remember being 6-7% in HS…. but not sure if it was apples to apples.
No problemo. I bet when you can do 10 consecutive pushups, you will have a weight you feel good about!
Strength is a funny thing. Some are just superhuman strong it’s incredible.
K, then I guess you meant to write pullups in your first comment!
But perhaps not. Tis why there are so many books about men not understanding women and vice versa.
I need to lose some weight according to these charts. One way I found works for me is to limit how much money is spent on food. I didn’t spend any money on food in April, and just ate whatever I already had at home, plus free bananas and oranges from work. Lost 8 lbs in 30 days. But the hardest part for me is keeping the weight off.
I have similar height, and I weighed 165 pounds last summer. Since then, I have been walking 6-7 miles every day. I have lost 10 pounds as of today. I don’t exercise much, but I am planning to start exercising. I am vegetarian, so that habit always helps. I love to play tennis too if time permits.
Congrats on losing that last 10 pounds – I know it can be hard! I love that you approached it methodically and with concrete goals, and didn’t quit until you reached the point you wanted to. Weight loss can’t be about looks, it needs to be about health.
Congrats on the progress. According to your chart I have about 32 lbs to lose to get to the high end. Unfortunately finding exercise I enjoy doing hasn’t been very easy and I have a desk job.
Thx. No matter. It’s the diet that has made the biggest difference. Try a change.
Nicely done, Sam. When I’ve read your post in the beginning of the year, I got upset about my weight because I was outside of my ideal weight as well. I decided to work out like crazy. That didn’t work because I got swamped at work and between that and blogging and having a little time to myself… I have to admit I became lazy. So, I just started to eat lean meats, more vegetarian dishes, more fish and I cut out snacks at work. The result? I back into my ideal weight and still dropping. :) Lesson not just learned but proved: we are what we eat. :)
It really is what we eat. Exercise be damned! :). Seriously, exercise just makes us hungrier and causes us to overeat. Congrats on getting down to your ideal weight!
Nice job on your weight loss goals Sam! That’s fabulous news about being more vegetarian. I average about 90% meatless and I love it. I eat cooked fish and shrimp from time to time but cut out sushi. I used to love sushi, but I just don’t enjoy eating it anymore. I’ve been trying to fit in more green leafy vegetables into my diet too. I had no idea until this year how delicious kale is and super nutritious at that!
I don’t think I can ever give up sushi. It’s too good!
Thanks to the pinched nerve, I had to give up my active lifestyle for the past 4 months. My doctor told me no strenuous exercise, but I could walk 20-30 minutes a day. I started walking after dinner for the last 6 weeks and I am getting back to my ideal weight (150 lbs.). I didn’t weigh myself, but knew I was gaining weight because my pants felt a little snug.
I very much dislike going to the gym too, I feel like a caged hamster on a wheel when I get on a treadmill or stationary bike. Like your love for tennis, I have a huge love of soccer as I played it all through high school. I never noticed I was tired or exhausted even after back to back games. It’s true, when you’re enjoying being active you workout better – even without realizing it. I’m definitely going to get back into doing that.
At the beginning of this year I did a 4 week “food rehab”. Which basically took me off all processed foods, sugar, alcohol and caffeine. I can truly say it was the best thing I could have ever done. Not only because I lost weight, but my chronic migraines have been gone for good. Now I eat organic and vegetarian food almost exclusively. If I do eat meat, it’s from a local farmer so it doesn’t have any added hormones. Like you, I cut out juices, sodas and other sugary drinks. Now if I do try to drink one, within an hour I get a sugar headache – it’s kind of crazy.
Thanks for sharing these great tips, Sam. You’ve given me a little more motivation to stay on my healthy eating journey, and to kick it up a knotch!
Carrie, great job going through your food rehab! That’s awesome! Changing food intake is 70% of it I think.
Great post Sam!
I’m 6’0 and currently about 15lb overweight from what the chart shows. I’m also a medium build and with broad shoulders. Honestly, working out is not high in my books. I tried the gym thing, paid membership dues only to never go. Now I mix my workouts with fun. I been a long time soccer player (over 20 years around the game), so for the last 2 years I been playing 3-4 times a week with 3 different teams. It’s a great workout, and I’m having fun while at I’m doing. I also converted half of my office into a gym, with a set of adjustable dumb-bells and a a pullup bar above the doors. I make use of my in home gym probably 1-2 hours a week.
Sadly five weeks ago since indoor session of soccer ended, I managed to gain 10 pounds, hence why I’m 15 over now. Even worst, I didn’t do much in terms of exercise over that time, hence for the weight gain. Thankfully summer soccer starts up tomorrow, and I’ll be back to 4 games a week, and cant wait to get back into the 180s.
I love indoor soccer! But, the last time I played my ankle got crushed by a guy who slide tackled me. Hope you wrap the ankles!
Best to you on getting down to the 180s!
At 6’4″, you fit right into the charts! The average for a large frame weight is 194 lbs. I remember Michael Jordan at 6’6″ played at 205. How heavy are you now?
Definition of medium-frame: Your middle finger and thumb just touch when you hold your wrist. You are large-framed if your fingers do not touch. You are small-framed if your fingers overlap. I am medium-frame.
Congrats on the weight loss! I too lost 10 pounds over the course of a few months, but I still have another 10 or so to go. I’m trying to focus less on weight and more on body fat percentage though. I started P90X 3 weeks ago, and I’ve actually gained a couple pounds from that. Week 4 is when it starts changing, so I hope my body will respond to that and I’ll start seeing some results.
Cool. Heard P90X is brutally tough.
Don’t forget to take before as after pictures!
I’m kicking myself for not taking pictures before I started. I can clearly see my upper body developing muscle, but I don’t see myself slimming out anywhere, which is frustrating. I definitely recommend that anyone starting P90X take the before pictures! You’ll be sorry if you don’t.
Doh….. Check out Jai’s pictures. He also has the added tanning touch in the after pictures w/ a nicer smile too! haha
That’s great to hear about your progress! I want to see if you can keep up this weight too. I probably could lose a few pounds and I’m trying to eat more vegetarian meals. It not easy because I don’t know a lot of vegetarian recipe. Perhaps we should go out more to get some vegetarian recipe ideas. I’m in line with the ideal weight chart above, but still have a little tummy.
If you have an iPhone, download Epicurious. We are getting our vegeterian recepies from there. Also, low carb mains, and such. Great app.
My father passed away at 55 and health is very important to me. I have 2 kids and want to enjoy them to the fullest. That being said WHY DIDN’T YOU DO INSANITY WITH ME?
BY THE WAY I AM NOT YELLING. MY CAT HIT THE CAP LOCK. :)
Sorry to hear about your father.
If I did Insanity with you I would probably pass out and die? Furthermore, I might twist a muscle.
Insanity rocks! Definitely puts things into perspective. Pisses me off, which drives me push harder. …and eat all the time!
I know I need to lose weight and I am working out 6 days a week, yea me! What pisses me off, is what it says my ideal weight should be. When I was in college, I weighed 135. I was a size two. I am a small frame woman who is 5’7″. This chart says I should weigh between 123-136. So it is telling me that when I was a size 2, I was at the high end of my ideal weight. That is just ridiculous!!! If I had dropped another 10 pounds I would have been gross. I am not using that to justify the fact that I am 153 this morning, but there is no way my goal is going to be to get to 123. I would, however, like to be 135 again.
Ah yes, I can hear the “pissed offness” in your comment! That was literally step one in making a change when I saw the charts!
I took the average of the range for my frame size and shot for that number. I’m 1.2 lbs above that number (157), but close enough.
I think you’ll be surprised at the relative ease in getting to 135 again once you get there. You might even want to keep on going!
Maybe I should pretend I am a large frame, then I would be in my ideal weight :)
Keep in mind that BMI is a height:weight number. Balance that with percent body fat. For instance, a buddy of mine a higher BMI (techinically “obese”), however, he is rather fit. He runs 5Ks, puts in loads of miles/week and shames a lot of younger folks in many performance areas. His % body fat is well w/i norm, not only for his age, but for younger groups as well. He is a big-ish guy, mostly lean muscle.
My personal philosophy is to look at everything: my weight, BMI, body fat comp, physical performance and nutrition. Myself, I come in at 5’9″, ~150#; BMI ~22, BFC ~18%. Last time I ran my 2.5 mile was a 9min/mile pace.
My point is that any one of those numbers taken alone means very little. Taken altogether, it paints a fair picture. The only thing that could really make it any better is complete metabolic panel w/ my cholesterol levels and such.
This is fantastic and congrats! I was wondering where my spare tire is coming from, it’s coming from sitting at my computer all day. Working all day is one thing, but now with the blog, oh boy have things changed. I’m going to do what you did… set workout goals based around how long I sit at my computer. I’m getting secretary’s a-s. I’m not kidding. It’s real. Dr. Oz says so.
Stay tuned on progress……
Secretary’s Ass…….. never heard of that! What is that? The butt cheeks start spreading wider or something?
Yeah, work + blog = mental block and usual disaster. Looking forward to what physical activity you’re going to tie your computer work with!
Secretary arse- essentiallly fat follows gravity. If one sits for much of the day, for whatever reason, the fatty lining of the body will tend to accumulate in the fourth point of contact.
Helps to stand and stretch, walk whenever possible, maybe use a balance ball instead of a chair. The ball will utilize the smaller core muscles, plus you can move a bit which increases circulation and comfort.
Congratulations, Sam- that’s quite an accomplishment! I take it you are a medium frame then?
I hit my initial weight loss goal for this year- but still am above the ideal weight in the table. Need to reflect and get PO’d enough to target a new more aggressive goal… nice post!
Thx Mike. Yep, medium frame. How much more you looking to go?
I’ve been fortunate to stay active my entire life. I do things I love, like ride a bike, and have stayed trim even as I’ve aged. I try to throw in sit ups now and then to maintain a quasi-six pack (okay, I’ll be honest, that six pack disappeared somewhere in my 30’s). Of course it helps that I eat healthy and fairly small portions. I also benefit because I don’t have a “desk job,” I’m constantly on my feet in the classroom.
Sounds like you’re on your way to losing that 10 pounds soon with the strategies you’re using.
The 10 pounds is gone, however, no six pack…. not even a four back at 158lbs! Just goes to show that one actually has to train the muscles to get some definition out of them!