Your weight chart is crazy!

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl:   OK Wow……I just read Myth #12 and I’m really, really depressed!   I thought I was average weight….I’m 5’3″ and weigh 140 lbs….and your chart says I should be around 105!  That means I need to lose at LEAST 30 lbs or so (if I give myself some leeway).   I’ve NEVER been that low in my adult life, and don’t consider myself overweight.   Is this truly realistic?   I’ve always been told that I’m ‘solid’, medium bone build, strong, muscular legs, and just a little in the middle–had twins, gained 60 lbs. with that pregnancy…skin stretched a tad, lost all the weight and some extra.   I can’t even imagine myself at 105, or 110, or 120 for that matter.


Answer:   First of all, it’s not my chart.   It’s Dr. McDougall’s chart that I submit to my readers as something to think about.   Let’s just let it expand our mind and give us something to think about.   Let’s not get married to it.


The point is that when you use averages from people who eat an exclusively whole-foods diets, like the indigenous peoples who live on plant foods, around the globe, you get dramatically different–even shockingly different–averages.   That chart is based on weights of healthy indigenous people.  (And you may be aware that extremely thin people have the longest life expectancy, around the globe.)


Right . . . you’re going to say that you and I aren’t living in the Sahara with access to only a handful of foods.   We have the constant temptation of living in the modern world where processed foods are some of our gods.   I understand that.


The point is simply to let go of those lame standardized charts your doctor shows you.   They give us a false sense of security about what is truly healthy.   I’m not trying to create hopeless ideals–please let go of beating yourself up about your weight–I’m trying to ask provocative questions about how we’ve been educated about health and nutrition.


If going to the weight in that chart would be unhealthy for you, then don’t do it.   And looking at an end goal like that can be daunting.   (Note: I am 5 lbs. over the ideal in the McDougall charts, too!   However, unlike this email I got and several others, I think I’d look just fine, quite healthy in fact, at the ideal weight for my height in the chart.   The further you are from that number, the more outraged you’re going to be by the number.)


Don’t hold up huge, unrealistic goals for yourself.   (It goes without saying that starving or bingeing/purging are bad ways to get to your ideal weight.)   Don’t view the McDougall chart as the new gold standard for 100% of people.   (We vary in bone size, etc.)   Just also don’t be surprised if, when you reach your “target weight” based on the American norms, you realize that you want to–and can, without massive effort!–get even leaner.   I’ve seen this happen with many people eating all raw or “high raw” on plant foods.

9 thoughts on “Your weight chart is crazy!

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  1. It’s such a relief to read this, because I’ve been one of those naturally thin people. Growing up, my MD told me I wasn’t near the weight I should be for my age/ht (he told me to eat more fattening food and less fruits and veggies). But no matter how much I’d binge on unhealthy fatty food, I’d barely gain anything. I’m grateful now that nature has been leading the way, as those were some tough years, before people started understanding this.

  2. It’s also worth noting that McDougall advocate a low-fat, completely vegan diet.

    I also gasped at the weight chart. I haven’t been close to that low in years, not since I was dealing with an eating disorder. So I too view the chart pretty loosely.

  3. “That chart is based on weights of healthy indigenous people. ”

    I was extremely skeptical of this at first. I’ve always thought of a healthy indigenous person as being quite solid looking and definitely not thin. I was thinking of Eskimos/North American Indians, Polynesians, Africans, etc. But I don’t know — I haven’t gone out and weighed them!! Maybe they weigh a lot less than they look.

    I googled pictures of indigenous peoples, and I the Amazon tribes do look pretty lean.

  4. I can’t even lost a pound eating like this robyn! you’d think I’d atleast lose a poud taking out dairy (CHEESE!!). I know my calorie intake is still low for a nursing mama but I am having a hard time filling it– (nuts seem the easiest but then i am getting above 15% calories from fat which is high anyway with me being so overweight)–I got my thyroid checked—and all my other levels—they were all great and even low! have you met anyone that this doesn’t work for with their body before? don’t get me wrong I feel great–I just don’t look great..I just can’t lost ONE MEASELY pound!!!

    about the weight charts–i just want to get closer to the ridiculous one that applys to overeating Americans!(sorry for the rant-)

  5. You know, I thought that when I first read that weight chart, too. I’ve lost 80 lbs since I had my third child in March, and by my doctor’s chart, I’d be fine in 10 more pounds. But, and this is not self-loathing, I know that I’m not where I need to be. My body fat is in a “healthy” range, but I’m not as solid as I could be. I have a small/medium build and wide hips, but I know that I can lose more. At first it was a shocking number, but at this point it just gives me motivation.

    As far as not being able to imagine what you’d look like at 105, that makes sense. I imagine that if I get down there, I’d be a size 0, which isn’t what I want for myself. If I get to 115, I should be in a size 2-4 which is good to me!

  6. amazing. I never weighed 119.5, (I am 5″ 6′ and a 1/2) even when I was dancing 5 hrs a day and exercizing in the mornings. This gets me motivated to work at eating whole foods. I am sure this is key, along with consistantly doing good work outs

  7. I am 5’3 and my average is 140 (I’ve had five kids) this is still big for me. I never in a million years thought I would get to what I was in high school and before kids, until I started eatting a raw vegan diet, and for once in my life, I lost weight (I kept the weight from my fifth child on for nearly two years) I am now pregnant with my 6th- so as low as I was able to get before pregnancy was 138- either way, it was the easiest weight loss I have ever had, the past it was like pulling teeth. I now realize if I eat this way, that it is possible for me to be in the 110 or so weight range, not only that I FEEL AMAZING. With the raw vegan diet, your body goes to what it naturally should weigh. Now I’ll be nursing, so no clue how that will be for me on weight loss. But I have to say I have changed my eatting so much, that for the first time I have got gained an enormous amount of weight with this pregnancy, I feel great, my stomach doesn’t look humongous, I always thought that is how I was because I am short, now I realize, it’s because I gained too much weight. I think though, we have to be at a weight where we feel good, but I do believe with a raw/vegan diet, that many of the weights on here, are for a lot of people, realistic… that is, if eatting this way is realistic for you. Only we know, what is realistic for us. I don’t think 140 is a bad weight at all for someone my height who has had children, but for me, I always have too much fat on me. And the most I ever weighed in HS was 103

  8. Being at a healthy weight is something I have spent a lot of time thinking about throughout the last year. I too thought that going on the GSG plan would miraculously solve my weight issues but that didn’t happen. I actually gained weight for a time because I overindulged in granola, yogurt, agave and nuts. I actually had a problem of overeating that I needed to overcome.

    I originally thought McDougall’s weight chart was crazy but now that I have dropped down to about 110 pounds (5’2), I can see that it may not be so unrealistic; I still have some extra weight around my middle that could go. I used to weigh in at 130 pounds but I feel way better at my lower weight.

    Way to go Heather on losing 80 pounds!! That’s amazing!

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