Healthy Weight Week

Happy New Year and Happy Healthy Weight Week! As a nurse, you should portray health, and healthy weight is one of the ways we can do that. Nurses General Nursing Article

Healthy Weight Week

New year, new you! You see the slogan throughout the media, brochures, and hear it in conversation. It's a new year and time to make a change. A healthy weight is important for your to boost overall health, lower disease risk, and keep you energized.

Assess your Why, then your Weight

Assessing your why means to look at the "whys" in your life that make you want to lose the weight. Some may include:

  • To Live Longer for my Children
  • To move Faster at Work
  • To Feel Healthy
  • To Look Better
  • To Lower my Disease Risk

You can add to the list, but this is a start. Understanding your why will help motivate you into losing the extra pounds.

Assessing your weight number is upsetting to everyone who knows they have to lose weight. Remember having those amazing barbeques over the summer, large holiday meals, and ice cream treats? Your weight didn't increase overnight.

After you stand on the scale, jot down the number, but don't focus solely on it. A scale is a tool to give you a starting point. You have to look beyond the number and look at the other tools like your Body Mass Index (BMI), wrist, and waist circumference.

Why the BMI?

A Body Mass Index (BMI) is calculated by a person's weight in kilograms divided by the square height of the person in meters. The calculated results give a number. If the number is in the low range, it can be an indicator of low body fat. Whereas, if the number is in the higher range it can indicate higher body fat. It is only a screening tool, and therefore, does not diagnose the health of an individual.

According to

  • If your BMI is less than 18.5, it falls within the underweight range.
  • If your BMI is 18.5 to 24.9, it falls within the normal or Healthy Weight range.
  • If your BMI is 25.0 to 29.9, it falls within the overweight range.
  • If your BMI is 30.0 or higher, it falls within the obese range.

BMI Calculator Waist Circumference

The National Institute of Health provides a simple to use BMI calculator on their website. This can help you start to set a goal for your weight.

Obese on the BMI Calculator

Many people use the BMI calculator and end with the negative feeling of being labeled, "obese". The one consideration the BMI calculator does not include is the different body types.

The three body types include the ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph (left to right in the picture.) If you are an ectomorph, you may not have to lose weight, but you have to gain muscle. Whereas the endomorph (most women), have higher BMIs, but may not necessarily need to shoot for the stars when it comes to a lower BMI. The endomorphic body should never be a 19 BMI, or they will be considered underweight. When you look at your body what shape do you see?


Wrist Circumference

Some calculators can determine a small, medium, and large body frame by measuring your wrist. To do this, measure the wrist with a tape measure and use the following chart to decide whether you are small, medium, or large boned.


  • Height under 5'2"
    • Small = wrist size less than 5.5"
    • Medium = wrist size 5.5" to 5.75"
    • Large = wrist size over 5.75"
  • Height 5'2" to 5' 5"
    • Small = wrist size less than 6"
    • Medium = wrist size 6" to 6.25"
    • Large = wrist size over 6.25"
  • Height over 5' 5"
    • Small = wrist size less than 6.25"
    • Medium = wrist size 6.25" to 6.5"
    • Large = wrist size over 6.5"


  • Height over 5' 5"
    • Small = wrist size 5.5" to 6.5"
    • Medium = wrist size 6.5" to 7.5"
    • Large = wrist size over 7.5"

If you happen to be the small bone type, and an ectomorph, your goal should be on the lower end of normal for a BMI. If you are a large frame and an endomorph, you can be on the higher side of normal BMI and be considered healthy.

Waist Circumference

Measuring your waist is another way you can assess if you are at a health risk. The CDC mentions that higher abdominal fat and waist circumference can correlate with an increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease.

How to Measure your Waist Circumference

According to the CDC, measuring your waist circumference should start with a tape measure. Then:

  • Stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones
  • Keep the tape horizontal around the waist
  • Make the tape snug around the waist, but not compressing the skin
  • Breathe out and measure your waist.

If your measurement for a man is over 40in and 35in for a woman, you are at a high risk for obesity-related conditions.

Embrace YOU and You Will Succeed

You may have read this article to get ideas on how to lose weight, instead of gaining clarity on why it's important. Every diet that is out there, that actually works, is based on two principles: Diet and Exercise. Those who lose weight, and kept it off, use those two principles. Fad diets don't work. As soon as you stop the fad diet, weight piles on.

Diet Tips

  • Smaller plate, instead of measuring smaller portions
  • Add more vegetables and fruit, and make your meat a rewarding meal at the end of the week
  • Pack on the go snacks like pretzels, apples, and carrots

Exercise Tips

  • Find an exercise accountability partner
  • Take a challenge, or challenge yourself
  • Set goals that have intention (add "when" when you say "Go to the gym")

The process of losing weight is a marathon, not a race. Most people spend years putting the weight on, so it will take some time to take it off. Love who you are and you will succeed, according to research. Stanford University School of Medicine did a study and found that 63 percent of participants who had a positive body image were more successful at losing and maintaining weight for a year compared to a 26 percent success rate for those who were discontent with their bodies.

When you set weight loss goals, start small. In January, people set huge fitness goals, and by March, the gym is empty. Set small, attainable goals, then increase over time. You can do this, when you think you can't, go back to your why.

Janine has been an RN since 2006, specializing in labor and delivery. She ventured into writing in 2012. She still works in the hospital. She, her husband, and two boys reside in Cleveland, Ohio.

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As a nurse, you should portray health, and healthy weight is one of the ways we can do that.

OP, I eat healthy and exercise regularly for me. I don't think it's part of my job description as a nurse to "portray health". My job is to provide high standard evidence-based care to my patients. I don't view myself as a health role model.

If one of the job responsibilities for nurses was portraying health then surely the employer should share in that responsibility. I like my nursing career but my previous career was much more health-friendly. 25% of my fulltime work was dedicated to physical exercise (weight lifting, running and self-defense and some tactical training) and it was easy to stay in excellent shape. It can still be done in nursing but it's in my opinion much harder. Shift work, long shifts with sometimes inadequate downtime between shifts/too little sleep, high stress levels and irregular meal break schedules can make maintaining a healthy lifestyle a bit more difficult.

When you look at your body what shape do you see?

Well, I look like the dude in the middle, but thankfully with a slightly more feminine cleavage (and perhaps slightly smaller ears) Oh, and I'm 6'1'' so I'm not sure what to do with the wrist size numbers.. I'm 8 inches taller than 5'5'', so do the numbers still apply?

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development.

This is a very well written article and I applaud you for undertaking it. It is the most popular unpopular subject around. It does bear noting that BMI measures nothing but a ratio of mass to height. It states nothing about the chemical make-up of that mass, nor the ratios one to another within that mass. Therefore it remains an extremely poor measure for a "healthy weight", as your BMI and mine may be identical, yet our physical bodies quite different in terms of healthy representation.

If you have not noticed before, the idea that a nurse "should set an example of good health" is pretty bogus and generates a lot of understandable push back. It doesn't take perfect health to help others be healthier. In fact, many patients greatly appreciate the humanity of physical imperfections within a generous and caring spirit. It also bears noting that the success ratios for sustained weight loss are poor, even in people who have serious "why" content, such as their health and their children and their patients etc etc etc. Unless the individual has found a personal reason that has nothing to do with having to prove something (ie: setting an example), the venture is likely doomed. Nobody is going to go through the intense physical, emotional and mental havoc of changing one's relationship with food and movement just to set a good example.

I congratulate you on a well written article. Thank you for providing it for discussion.

I'd finish reading this article but somebody brought in free donuts

Sadly, there is no body type for "short and STACKED"

I kid. I kid.