Deciding Whether You Are the Right Weight and Size


The old adage ‘you can never be too rich or too thin’ is one that is held in much too high a regard in our society. Of course you can be too thin and striving for a size that is not realistically achievable is not only a soul-destroying business, it’s also a dangerous game. You’re dicing with your health and are at risk of developing disordered eating behaviours or even a full-blown eating disorder.

So what is the right size? Well judging from a recent survey, which revealed that 63 per cent of people lie about their weight, with 22 per cent not even telling their partner, most of us think it’s smaller than whatever size we are! Realistically, the majority of us know when we’ve put on a few too many pounds, and have a clothes size we secretly hanker after or have something hanging in our wardrobe that we’d really like to fit into again one day. This plan is geared towards dropping a clothes size, but it can still work for you if you need to drop more than one size — provided you stay with it for long enough. And if you are significantly overweight — and more than half the UK population is now classified as such — you’ll be doing yourself a huge favour by taking steps to lose those excess pounds.

Obesity is now recognized as a serious medical condition with many associated health risks, including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, gallstones, osteo-arthritis of weight-bearing joints, sleep apnoea, reproductive disorders and some cancers. The Obesity Task Force describes obesity as ‘the biggest global health burden for the world’. And while the UK may lag behind the US in rates of obesity, we’re gaining ground rapidly. In 1980, the average British man weighed 73.7kg; for a woman the average was 62.2kg. By 2000, those figures had increased to 81.6kg and 68 . 8kg respectively.



BMI is a simple way of assessing your body weight status. It’s not foolproof, however, as it does not distinguish between fat and muscle. It’s also not a good measure of progress as you get fitter, as increased muscle mass may actually make you heavier rather than lighter, although you will be substantially fitter and trimmer and slipping into a smaller clothes size.

Use the formula below to determine your BMI and then check this against the BMI categories to see whether you are already a healthy body weight or if you have a more significant amount of body fat to lose.

To obtain you BMI, measure your weight in kilograms and your height in metres and then divide your weight by your height squared: W/H2 = BMI.

For example, if you weigh 63kg and are 1.70m tall, you multiply 1.7 by 1.7 to give you 2.89, then divide 63 by 2.89. This gives a BMI of 21.79, which would put you within the normal weight range.



Underweight = under 20

Normal weight = 20-24.9

Overweight = 25-29.9

Obese = 30+



Although BMI has been widely used since the 1980s to estimate body shape change and the risk of various obesity-related diseases, using the waist circumference measurement is simpler and has been shown to indicate obesity-related risks just as well as BMI. Developed by an expert panel on obesity and health risks, the waist circumference method of indicating health risk classifies a healthy waist circumference as being below 102cm/40in for men and 88cm/34in for women.

As well as being simple, the waist circumference measurement also gives a more accurate picture of an individual’s body fat distribution. And since the Drop a Dress Size Forever Plan plan is concerned not solely with measuring weight on the scales but more with clothes size, girth measurements are the best way to monitor your progress as you follow this plan.



pinch an inchThe chart below shows the usual measurements that are taken — if you wish you can use it to record you own details when you begin the plan. The body fat measurement is not essential but it is helpful. Body fat can be measured using skin fold calipers or, more conveniently, using a body fat monitor — these are similar to bathroom scales but they determine your percentage body fat, giving a truer idea of what is going on in your body.

For Women:


Body fat (if known) Chest






For Men:


Body fat (if known)


Waist with belly button contracted

Waist with belly button relaxed





Chest — measure with the tape flat across the nipple line

Waist — measure around the narrowest part of your midriff (for men, pull your tummy in for the first reading and let it go for the second)

Navel — measure around the midriff directly over the belly button

Hips — measure across the top of the buttock cheeks

Thighs — stand with feet together, measure 20cm/8in up from the top of your kneecap and take a circumference measurement of your thighs