THE HAPPY BODY  THE SIMPLE SCIENCE OF NUTRITION, EXERCISE, AND RELAXATION

Ideal Body Weight

Years ago, some of our clients achieved the recommended standard of leanness, but still did not like the way they looked, seeing themselves as either too stocky or too bony. The first kind would say something like, “I’m lean, but I look like a truck driver.” The other kind might say, “I look anorexic.” From these experiences, we realized that we had not taken into account in our measurements the relationship between weight and height.

One day, as Aniela was arriving at the house of a client in Santa Monica, a woman approached her and said, “I’m sorry to bother you. I live next door, and I’ve never done anything like this before…but I’ve been watching you for months, and I’d like to tell you that I’ve tried everything to have a body like yours. Are you a dancer?”

“No,” Aniela said, ”I’m a weightlifter.”

The woman was surprised, but nevertheless, she said, “I do yoga, Pilates, jogging, lifting weights, and all kinds of diets, I have a personal trainer…but at five-foot-five and ninety-nine pounds, I still feel fat. I’m tired most of the time, and my body is sore and weak. What am I doing wrong?”

“You feel flabby,” Aniela said, “because you have too much fat, and you feel weak because you don’t have enough muscle. You’re two inches taller than I am, but weigh thirteen pounds less. So, for your height, you are actually too thin. To get the right proportions, you need to lose some fat and gain some muscle, and weigh more than you do now overall.”

“I can’t believe you’re thirteen pounds heavier than I am! How can that be?”

“Because muscle is denser than fat and heavier by volume. So, having more muscle makes you look slimmer. Don’t worry about gaining weight overall, because you could be ten pounds heavier and look slimmer.”

“Can you help me to do that?”

“I would be delighted.”

We both had many encounters like that in all kinds of social situations, and came to realize that we should calculate ideal weight based on a person’s height, using the proportions of Jerzy’s body for men and of Aniela’s body for women. Once we had that insight, it became easy for us to estimate whether a client should lose or gain muscle or fat, and exactly how much of each.

For example, a woman who is 5’-3” tall, weighs 145 pounds, and has 25% body fat would be overweight but not obese. She is carrying 36.25 pounds of fat. The rest of her, 108.75 pounds, is lean mass. According to The Happy Body standard, she should weigh 113 pounds and be 13% body fat (14.69 pounds of fat and 98.31 pounds of lean mass). She should therefore lose 21.56 pounds of fat and lose 10.44 pounds of lean mass.

To take another example, a woman who is 5’-3” tall, weighs 105 pounds, and has 35% body fat would be obese but underweight. She is carrying 36.75 pounds of fat. The rest of her, 68.25 pounds, is lean mass. According to The Happy Body standard, she should weigh 113 pounds and be 13% body fat (14.69 pounds of fat and 98.31 pounds of lean mass). She should therefore lose 22.06 pounds of fat and gain 30.06 pounds of muscle. Although she will gain 8 pounds overall, her body will be much leaner than before and look slender.

The Standard of Ideal Body Weight

The Ideal Happy Body Weights, based on height and gender, appear in Table 2.1. The numbers in the table, which are derived from the proportions of Jerzy’s and Aniela’s bodies, are based on observations of our clients. Notice that women’s weight increases by three pounds per inch, and men’s weight increases by five pounds per inch.

Table 2.1: The Happy Body Ideal Body Weight Index
Body Height Female Body Weight
(pounds)
Male Body Weight
(pounds)
4’-10” 98 110
4’-11” 101 115
5’-0” 104 120
5’-1” 107 125
5’-2” 110 130
5’-3” 113 135
5’-4” 116 140
5’-5” 119 145
5’-6” 122 150
5’-7” 125 155
5’-8” 128 160
5’-9” 132 165
5’-10” 135 170
5’-11” 138 175
6’-0” 142 180
6’-1” 145 185
6’-2” 150 190
6’-3” 155 195
6’-4” 160 200

Degrees of Ideal Body Weight

A few of our clients prefer to be slightly lighter or heavier than these ideals, due to bone structure or just personal taste. For them we recommend going one step above or below on the height chart. For example, a woman who is 5’3” might prefer to weigh 110 or 116 rather than 113 pounds, and a man who is 5’11” might prefer to weigh 170 or 180 rather than 175 pounds.

Achievement LevelNumber of Steps
Below or Above
Ideal Body Weight
Poor5
Fair4
Good3
Very Good2
Excellent0–1

We do not advise going beyond one step in either direction, since a person who weighs too little has insufficient muscle mass and is more vulnerable to illness, and a person who weighs too much puts excessive stress on the heart.

Thirteen Possible Body Types

Very few people have Ideal Body Weight, and of those, even fewer have Ideal Body Weight Proportions. That is, a person can have the Ideal Body Weight for his or her height, but too much fat and not enough muscle, or too little fat and too much muscle. There are very few people who have ideal body weight, ideal body fat, and ideal body muscle, which means they have Happy Bodies. A Happy Body is actually only one of thirteen possible body types. Table 2.2 presents the other twelve possibilities.

Table 2.2: THIRTEEN POSSIBLE BODY TYPES
Type
Number
Body
Description
Body
Weight
Fat
Content
Muscle
Content
Ideal Body Weight
1 The Happy Body
(lean & powerful)
ideal ideal ideal
2 The Gymnast
(sinewy & powerful)
ideal too little too much
3 Scale Watcher
(flabby & weak)
ideal too much too little
Overweight
4 The Lineman
(lean & strong)
too much ideal too much
5 Gym Member
(flabby & strong)
too much too much ideal
6 The Sumo Wrestler
(flabby & weak)
too much too much too much
7 The Sitter
(fat & weak)
too much too much too little
8 The Body Builder
(sinewy & strong)
too much too little too much
Underweight
9 The Fashion Model
(lean & weak)
too little ideal too little
10 The Twig
(sinewy & weak)
too little too little too little
11 The Dieter
(flabby & weak)
too little too much too little
12 The Dancer
(lean & strong)
too little too little ideal
13 The Mountain Climber
(sinewy & powerful)
too little too little too much

A few of our clients prefer to be slightly lighter or heavier than these ideals, due to bone structure or just personal taste. For them we recommend going one step above or below on the height chart. For example, a woman who is 5’-3” might prefer to weigh 110 rather than 113 pounds; and a man who is 5’-11” might prefer to weigh 180 rather than 175 pounds. We do not advise going beyond one step in either direction, since a person who weighs too little has insufficient muscle mass, and a person who weighs too much puts excessive stress on the heart.

©2012 THE HAPPY BODY