Kia Ākina

Working towards lifelong recovery from obesity

Using BMI to set your Goals

This section outlines the calculations you need to do to work out how much weight you’ve got to lose to get to a BMI of 29 and to help you set some goals for the next year – one year at a time! The calculations below are worked out for a hypothetical person, who is 130kg in weight and 1.72m in height.

If you are having difficulty with the arithmetic don’t worry, lots of people do. You don’t have to be a mathematician to recover from obesity.If you are struggling to follow the instructions below just email the Kia Ākina co-ordinator at info@kiaakina.nz and they will be able to help you.  You could also come to one of our weekly network meetings and you will find someone there who will be able to help you with this.

How much weight does our hypothetical person, who is 1.72 metres in height and 130 kilograms in weight, need to lose to get to a BMI of 29?

At a BMI of 29, they will be 86kg (29 x 1.72 x1.72), so they need to lose 44kg from a baseline of 130kg to get to that ultimate goal. But that’s in the future – most likely a few years away, and could very well seem too high a mountain to climb from base camp. So it’s best to concentrate on the present and this first year, setting monthly goals and working in the present on these much shorter intermediate goals, living one day at a time.

So a key question is: “How much weight would be good to lose in the first year?”

There is no precise figure that we are able to give you to answer this question and perhaps the most important consideration is what feels manageable to you.  If you are not sure what would be manageable we have found that a weight loss goal of 10% of body weight per year is manageable for most people. However, we are aware of research in people with obesity that weight loss more than 10% over 12 months can be more effective in some people, although long-term outcomes comparing various speeds of weight loss are not available at this point.

At the end of the day, it is weight in 5-10 years’ time that is the crucial issue, not how much weight can be quickly lost in the short-term. “The Biggest Loser” type competitions are so often just that, setting people up to be the biggest losers, because rapid uncontrolled weight loss so often ends up with people regaining the weight and not uncommonly putting even more on than they lost in the first instance. In Kia Ākina we emphasise the need to Take Control, which means losing weight in a controlled way.

You need time to consolidate lifestyle changes, which means practice and practice until they become second nature. This is why a slower, more solid approach to weight loss works more effectively for the majority of people. Kia Ākina is primarily a permanent lifestyle change programme rather than weight-loss programme. Weight loss is the inevitable outcome of a more healthy lifestyle.

If you want to experiment with weight loss greater than 10% in the first year, e.g. 20%, we will support you and from a research perspective will be very interested in your progress. Equally, if you want to just try for 5% we will also support you to achieve that goal. Most people aim for 10%, so let’s work out the calculations for our hypothetical person based on 10% loss of weight in the first year.

10% of 130kg is 13kg, so that our person’s goal weight for 12 month’s time will be 117kg. At that weight they will have a BMI of 39.5 (117 divided by 1.72, divided by 1.72). At at BMI of 39.5 they will have moved BMI category from morbid obesity to clinical obesity.

So now let’s map out the monthly goals for this person for the year.

But just before we do, here is a really important bit of information, which we’ve only alluded to so far. To ensure that weight loss is permanent, it is best to build in maintenance periods while undertaking overall weight loss. Maintenance periods are periods of time where you try to remain at the same weight for a period of time rather than losing or gaining weight. These maintenance periods are best if they are substantial periods of time, like weeks to months rather than days to weeks, to practice being in control, maintaining weight, while consolidating a new lifestyle that will underpin your recovery from obesity. We suggest building in three or four months of maintenance during the first 12 months of weight loss. Below we’ve built in four:

January           130kg (start with maintaining 130kg for the month)

February         128g

March              126kg

April                 126kg (maintain 126kg for the month)

May                  124kg

June                 123kg (it’s the middle of winter, so just lose 1kg this month)

July                  123kg (maintain 122kg for the month)

August             121kg

September       119kg

October            119kg (another maintenance month)

November        118kg

December         117kg

There are going to be a number of ups and downs during this first year of recovery, which is where the various components of Kia Ākina can be helpful.