Smorgasbord Health 2017- Weight Reduction – How much should you really weigh?

Smorgasbord Health 2017

Welcome to Part Three of the repeat of my Weight Reduction programme. This post will also be familiar to those who have read Size Matters my book on the programme.

Before I get into the mental and emotional attitude that you need to adopt to reduce your  weight successfully there are a few logistics to get out of the way!

How much do you weigh now?

And how much should you weigh to be healthy?

Where do you start?

It is important to have a start point when you are planning to lose weight so that you have a road map to follow, with a destination that is attainable. I often hear clients say ‘I would just love to lose 10 kilos or 2 stone or 10lbs’. This is based not necessarily on the actual weight they need to lose but what they consider to be an acceptably achievable goal. To be honest you need to be a little more specific than this. You may only need to lose 7lbs or 5 kilos or you may need to lose more to reach a healthy weight for your age and activity level.

There are two common methods of measuring your weight with regard to health and that is a straightforward weight/height/sex comparison and BMI or Body Mass Index. I believe that it is easier to manage and track your actual weight rather than focus on just BMI – certainly if you are a body builder and fit, determining your health with BMI is not relevant.

Most ideal weight profiles are derived from insurance company statistical tables. These tables however were produced nearly 60 years ago when physically we were shorter and our diet following the war years was still restricted for many people.

I don’t believe that these tables are appropriate today and if you take the ideal weights in that table and treat it as the minimum weight for your height then I believe that it is more realistic for this generation. It is a guideline only and the important factors are the indicators of how healthy you are internally as well as externally.

Of greater importance to me, are your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. And if you need to lose more than two or three stone – 42lbs I would suggest that you get those measured before you start. In the UK you can pop into certain pharmacies and they will do the checks for you. It will also give you another measurement during the weight loss process to determine your progress not just with weight but general health and fitness.

I also do not believe in starving the body into submission – when I was studying to correct my own weight issues, I realised that despite being 24 stone I was suffering from malnutrition. Lots of calories but no nutrients in my diet – hence mal–nourished. You have no idea how funny most of my overweight clients find that notion. You will often hear the expression “starvation syndrome” which is where the body loses weight under famine conditions (crash diet) and then rebounds with extra weight when there is a time of harvest (when you start to eat normally again) I have always preferred to call this “nutritional deficiency syndrome” .

Some of the other important questions also need to be taken into account. During your weight loss do you have plenty of energy and is your immune system functioning efficiently? Losing weight successfully involves a number of other factors apart from the food you eat, including exercise, willpower and your emotional involvement.

However, we do need that start point and I have a basic ready reckoner that you can adapt for your own physical build. I have used this for years for both myself and my clients and I have found it the easiest to combine both frame size and weight.

Working it out

There are a number of sites that will work out your frame size for you – it involves your wrist measurement and your height. Take your wrist measurement with a tape measure and plug in with your height.

Working out your weight.

For medium framed women as the average.

As a base, use 100lbs up to five foot and then 6lbs for every inch over that height. Modify by 5% either way if you have a light frame or heavy frame.

For medium framed men

As a base, use 106lbs up to five foot and then 7lbs for every inch over that height. Modify either way by 5% if you have a light frame or heavy frame.


  • · A woman who is a heavy frame and 5’ 6” would have an optimal weight of:
  • 100lbs + 36lbs = 136lbs – Add 5% for heavy frame = 6.8lbs
  • This gives an optimum weight of 142.8lbs or 67.7Kilos
  • · A light framed man of 5’ 6” would have an optimum weight of:
  • 106lbs + 70lbs = 176lbs – Subtract 5% for light frame = 9lbs
  • This gives an optimum weight of 167lbs or 75.9Kilos.

To be honest, I have met people who are fantastically healthy, fit and full of energy who are a stone or even heavier. But, there is no doubt that if we are talking about a healthy weight, fit and at less risk of the health problems including hip and knee problems, being nearer the optimum weight is best.

Step one – take your weight tomorrow morning when you get up and deduct your optimum weight according to your frame size.

If you need to lose between 7lbs – 14lbs– then you need to set a target of 14 weeks. You are not going to get a quick water release as soon as you start so losing 1lb a week is both healthy and reasonable. You may find that there is just a minor adjustment needed to your daily diet and activity levels to achieve this comfortably.

If you need to lose between 14lbs and 42lbs –you are going to have to both make adjustments to the types of food that you are currently consuming (sugars, processed foods) and move your activity level into higher gear. You are looking at around 14 -30 weeks for the best results without the danger of regaining the weight.

If you are between 42lbs and 84lbs overweight – you are looking at between 30 and 52 weeks to lose the weight, reduce the risk of loose skin that can be left, and to develop an activity programme gradually that will retrain your muscles and build stamina. If you are on medication for BP etc. then please consult your doctor.

If you need to lose more than 84lbs then you should be consulting with your doctor in regard to your general health. I am sure that they will support any health eating programme that involves eating natural, unprocessed foods but since you may have other health issues and medication, please consult them first.

However much weight you need to lose, you still need to mentally and emotionally prepare for the journey ahead. We all start out with good intentions but if we do not have a clear goal, measurements along the way and a set routine we all fall by the wayside.

Step two Keeping a Food Diary

All groups should start a food diary and keep daily. Every item of food, processed, natural, main meals, snacks and fluids. Do not worry about the calories – the first stage is determining what foods you are eating that are contributing to your extra weight. Be honest – only you will see the food you are eating written down but this is no time to fudge the figures if you want to lose weight.

You will see how this relates to weight loss when I post the Fat Accumulation Table…Amazing the difference over a year that having two biscuits with your cup of tea can make instead of just one!

You can find all the other posts in the series on Weight Reduction in this directory.

©sallycronin 2016

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment section and if you would like a private word then please email me


Smorgasbord Health – Weight Reduction – Meet Helena the first of my clan.

In the first post of this repeated series on weight reduction, I explained that I did not believe in the “Quick Fix” approach to weight loss or magic pills for life to prevent diseases that are lifestyle related. Weight loss has become the obsession of most women today in the western world. Magazines, celebrities and experts are constantly bombarding us with the latest, guaranteed way to lose our extra weight, and there is a multi-billion pound/dollar business to service our obsession.

N.B. There have been some comments in the past about the use of the term ‘loss’ when referring to weight and that it carries negative connotations.  To be honest I don’t feel negative about the term as the very act of losing weight that is causing health problems is such a positive experience.  However, I am using the term reduction more frequently as I would also like to combat the incessant negativity about FAT... like a lot of good things you can have too much of it and you need a certain amount of body fat to be healthy.

For me the key to losing weight is not about following the latest diet, or taking the latest miracle supplement but coming to an understanding with, and respecting our body. Never before in history has so much information been available about how our body works and the diseases that can cripple it. Perhaps there is too much and we are overwhelmed? Advice is torrential and confusing. One minute you should eat meat and the next only carbohydrate. Exercise for 30 minutes a day or perhaps just 2 minutes at a run would do the trick?

Before we move further into the series and talk about strategies that you as an individual can use to tailor make a diet that suits you, I would like to dial things back a notch.

Actually quite big notch – I would like you to meet my grandmother 500 times removed – called Helena. A woman who has passed on her powerful mitochondrial DNA to me, so powerful that despite all the pairings of genes throughout the last 20,000 years, I still carry her within me.

When I began my journey 22 years ago to repair my body and my health, I realised that I knew very little about my own family history from a health perspective and even less about the history of humans in general.

My mother had little information or even family to share with us. Her father was killed in the last week of the First World War at age 31, when she was just over a year old and an only child. My grandfather was Irish and Catholic and my grandmother English and protestant. Although his close family, living in England offered to educate my mother, it was provisional on her being brought up Catholic. My grandmother refused and contact was lost with my grandfather’s side of the family and consequently we also lost all their history.

In the late 1990s  I embarked on two historical journeys. One into the recent past and one way back into the late Stone Age. I managed to research back as far as the late 1400’s on both my mother’s English family and my father’s roots in the North East. No surprises but some emotional discoveries that both saddened and inspired me.

The Clan of the Cave Bear

One of my inspirations for our next step on this journey of discovery were the books of Jean M. Auel – beginning with the Clan of the Cave Bear – set around 28,000 years ago when the Neanderthal branch of human kind was disappearing. The story follows the life of Ayla and the series of six books up to her most recent – The Land of the Painted Caves – is the most fascinating read of my life. I wanted to find out if there was an Ayla in my past.

My husband and I decided to take advantage of the recently emerged DNA ancestry projects and in 2001 we both had our mitochondrial DNA tested. If you want an insight into the process before having your own DNA tested then I suggest you read Dr. Bryan Sykes book The Seven Daughters of Eve.


When submitted, an individual’s DNA is tested against seven sets of bones. Each of the identified set of bones found in various regions in Europe was given a name. My results showed that my DNA came from Helena whose bones dated back around 20,000 years ago. My husband’s to a slightly later woman, Velda, 17,000 years ago.

So I now had two points at each end of my ancestry, Helena and my mother – and it was a fascinating process, not just to establish the likely route that my ancestors took to arrive in southern England, but to also establish some dietary and health links along the way.

Helena’s, and therefore my own DNA, is according to Dr. Sykes and his team, the largest and most successful of the seven native clans with 41% of Europeans belonging to one of its many branches. She was born somewhere in the valleys of the Dordogne in South Central France but the clan is widespread throughout all parts of Europe but reaches its highest frequency among the Basque people of Northern Spain and Southern France. (Perhaps explains my love of my former Spanish home in the mountains above Madrid combined with sunshine, olive oil, seafood etc.)

The ice-age was at its severest and stretched down as far as Bordeaux, and in Britain down as far as the midlands (Britain was still joined to continental Europe by dry land).   Helena’s diet would have consisted of meat, seafood from the shoreline such as oysters and possibly seaweeds, various plants and fruits, some tubers and mushrooms, seeds and grains. Recent research indicates that we may well have begun eating raw grains very early on when we left the forests for the grasslands, and that even 30,000 years ago we may have been processing existing grains for cooking. Rather negates the recent trend to take all grains out of our diet!

According to Helena’s bones, she was about 42 when she died and would have lived to see her grandchildren. That was a good age for the time. Life was very hard – apart from the cold and harsh living conditions, food scarcity, childhood was perilous and it was an achievement to reach 15. If you did, then provided you survived giving birth, avoided accidents and found enough to eat and store for winter months, you could look forward to perhaps another 20 years to your mid-30’s. In a time where survival of the fittest was the rule – Helena survived into her 40’s and produced daughters who were strong and fertile who resulted in not just myself, but my two sisters, and three granddaughters to carry on her legacy.

What is becoming evident is that because our ancestors were opportunistic eaters they had a much more varied diet than we do today, consuming over 100 different varieties of plant and protein. Today it is estimated that we restrict ourselves to around 25 different varieties. Take a look at your shopping basket and ask yourself when was the last time you tried something new?  This is not good for our general health as our bodies are designed to consume a broad spectrum of nutrients extracted from a wide variety of foods.

It appears that Helena’s descendants and their families wended their way through France once the ice had receded. They must have been strong both in mind and body to withstand the journey, its dangers and the daily grind of finding sufficient food to feed themselves and their families. Along the way some would have settled in with new groups that they encountered or simply as large family units. Eventually, some would have reached the fertile seashores of the South of England and the Isle of Wight, which may have been still attached to the mainland, and over the following centuries they would have created my immediate family.

Helena was 42 when she died 20,000 years ago and the interesting link is that according to the records I could find, nearly all my female relations from the recent past died at around the same age! In or after childbirth or worn out from the process of having a child a year, every year. Many children appeared to have died in the first year or two of their lives which must have been emotionally traumatic too. The first person in several generations to live a long life was my mother who died at nearly 95.

In fact it was not until the early 1900’s that this life expectancy would change. My grandmother and my mother in particular were the first of the women in my family to benefit from not just a more varied diet but a safer birth process, better public health and sanitation, reduction in childhood diseases, new medical advances, control and treatment of smallpox and measles and TB. Luckily neither was affected by the great Spanish Flu epidemic that killed millions in the two years after the First World War. Additionally they lived in the country with a plentiful diet of natural unprocessed foods full of variety and very little in the way of processed foods.

Sadly my grandmother had a weak chest and died from asthma at age 55 in 1945 and we never got to know her. The medical advances and drugs that might have saved her life came too late.

But I know now where I come from, who I am and that I have the strength derived from generations of strong women.   The journey gave me a greater knowledge of who I am and a greater understanding of my body. A body that is the outcome of thousands of years of survival. It needs to be treated with far greater respect than I gave it for the first 40 odd years of my life and I believe everyone needs to feel the same way about their own body and health.

So, before you embark on a starvation diet, or consume pills that promise you will lose weight, I would ask you think first about the impact of that action will have on your body. 

Links you might find interesting.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2018

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment section and if you would like a private word then please email me

Size Matters Serialisation – Chapter Seven- Part One – Calories in, Fat in, Exercise it out.

41mynoqwwnl-_uy250_3Chapter seven of Size Matters is quite long so have split into two with the second part on Wednesday.. Faced with losing 150lbs. I knew that I had to form a project plan and then stick to it. I had a great deal more questions than answers 20 years ago and over the years and with more and more nutritional research available it is much easier today to get it right.

  1. Creating Your Own Plan

So now it is your turn. Weigh yourself. I hate bathroom scales with a vengeance. They can sabotage a healthy eating programme as quick as anything. They are not always reliable, if old, the measurements are off and if you do not lose weight one week you can get demoralised and give up. I suggest that you find a chemist or other outlet that has accurate scales and visit every two weeks – same day and time if you can – on the way to work perhaps. I try to find one that does not shout the results across the shop floor! Some of these also have a blood pressure cuff so another measurement to check on a regular basis. Do still have your BP taken officially along with your LDL cholesterol levels and Blood Sugar with your doctor or the pharmacy after 6–8 weeks.

To be honest, I find using a different method to measure progress can be more motivating. One is to take a photograph, full length of you today and stick it somewhere you see it every day. In 6 weeks’ time having been following your new regimen of natural unprocessed foods and got into an increased activity programme, take another and compare them.

Another option is to find an item of clothing that is a size too small and every week on the same day, try it on. Keep going until you fit into it. A note here, unfortunately, we women lose weight from the top down usually. One of the reasons being is that we have different hips and thighs to men. We bear children and the fat in those regions would be used to nourish the baby when we are pregnant. So perhaps an idea would be to find a top of some kind or jacket to compare sizing for the first few weeks.

Determine your frame size and decide what weight you need to be by using the BMR calculator and the addition of normal activity and exercise per day. Remember: It is not healthy to lose masses of body weight too quickly. You can start to lose muscle instead of fat and that is not good in the long term. Having said that, if you are steadily increasing your activity level, you can sustain a healthy loss of 2–3 lbs. (1–1.5 kg) a week, because you are building muscle as you lose the fat.

Most one-dimensional diets work on the assumption that you walk three times a week for 20 minutes. This is hardly enough time to get out of breath! If you are walking for an hour every day, you will be achieving seven times that amount of exercise and will soon see the benefit in additional weight loss and toning. The weight loss will always be quicker at first, but, if you average it out over a 20–week period, it usually works out to 2.5 lbs. (1 kg) per week. You do not need to do the entire hour at once. Intensive and brisk walking for 20 minutes, three times a day can actually be more effective. Also, you are more likely to sustain the level of exercise in smaller segments. For me, I find that if I listen to rock music it keeps me at a good pace although does solicit some odd looks from passers-by.

As always, especially if you are very overweight, you should not launch into an aggressive exercise program without first talking to your medical adviser.

Without the use of technical equipment, and complex calculations, it is generally difficult to calculate an individual’s calorific usage during an hour of exercise. To keep it simple, I have listed only a few exercises and divided them into two main groups: Moderate and Heavy (see Chapter seventeen for the types of exercise and activity that will benefit you most).

Moderate exercise:

Walking, cycling and swimming. These use approximately 300 calories an hour. You should then add 10 calories for every 14 lbs. (6.5 kg) you are overweight.

Heavy exercise:

Aerobics, mountain biking, running, and football. These use approximately 500 calories an hour. Here you need to add 20 calories for every 14 lbs. (6.5 kg) you are overweight.

Basic Summary:

  • Weigh yourself.
  • Determine your frame size.
  • Decide on your ideal weight.
  • Calculate the weight loss required to achieve this weight.
  • Determine the amount of calories you need each day to provide basic nutrition – BMR – then add in basic daily activity and exercise.
  • Without going below your BMR – around the 1500 calories for a woman and 1800 for a man – design your healthy eating programme to provide a 500 to 750 calorie deficit per day to achieve 1–2 lbs. weight loss per week.

You will find more details on how to work out how much you should weigh in the previous chapter.

This is not exercise.. except for the bull who was never the same again!

This is not exercise.. except for the bull who was never the same again!

It is worth noting that some weeks you may lose less than in others. As you increase your activity level, you will be toning up and this will create more muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat and so you may find that you have lost inches instead of pounds. However, in my experience, it usually seems to average out to about 2–2.5 lbs. (0.9–1.1 kg) per week. Think long term, and do not become too obsessed with the day-to-day loss of weight.

You will find a personal information sheet in the section on ‘Designing your own Program’ where you can record the information you have just calculated. However, before continuing, let’s get a few more questions out of the way.

How much fat should I eat each day?

At this point I think it is important to remember that our bodies have been evolving for a very long time – in a hundred thousand years our DNA will only have altered about ten times – I have said before that the body does not react to sudden changes very well! However, in the last 300 years and particularly the last 150 years since the industrial revolution we have thrown some curved balls at our bodies. Industrially produced foods with manufactured artificial ingredients is just one area where our nutritional needs are not being met – one of the others, which is the real demon in our diet, is refined sugars – addictive – available from birth to grave, within hand’s reach in shops, in our own fridges and store cupboards – and laboratory constructed fats to extend the sell-by-date on ready meals and other industrial foods in our daily diet. No wonder our bodies are in melt-down with increased health issues that lead to Heart disease, Cancers and Dementia. But back to fats …

We must not cut fats out of our diet – they have an essential role to play in our health and without fats and cholesterol our bodies will be open to infections, poor function in areas such as the brain, heart, reproductive system and our eyesight. I use the 80/20 rule with my diet because I have to be watch my weight – 20% of my diet comprises healthy fats – sometimes I will have more because I am out for a meal etc. but basically my everyday diet comprises mainly seasonal vegetables and fruit, whole grain rice, fish, chicken, red meat once a week, eggs, moderate dairy. No one person’s diet is the same and you have to find the perfect balance for you and this includes your fat intake – as long as it is not harmful fats.

Briefly, a quick look at the fats you are likely to encounter in your daily diet:

  • One fat to avoid all together is not naturally occurring at all and that is manufactured ‘Trans Fats” Liquid oil is hydrogenated to extend its shelf life but in the process Trans fatty acids are formed – found in most processed foods including margarines and snacks such as microwave popcorn etc.
  • The other fat type, which in large quantities is not helpful in maintaining cholesterol levels, is saturated fat – if there is too much in your diet it will raise your total Cholesterol as well as the unhealthy LDL. Mainly found in animal products but also some seafood. However, provided you are not eating the rich fat around a steak or roast every day, or eating a block of cheese three times a week, or a pound of butter on your spuds, you can enjoy what is very tasty component of your diet in moderation.
  • The fats classified as healthy fats are Monounsaturated fats – which lower total cholesterol and at the same time lower LDL and increase HDL – this is contained in nuts, like walnuts and olive oil.
  • Polyunsaturated fats also lower total cholesterol and LDL and these are found in salmon, soya, sunflower oils etc and have a very important component Omega-3 fatty acids. These can not only reduce your LDL and support HDL but are also very helpful in reducing blood pressure and the risk of developing blood clots. Even with people who have already suffered a heart attack including Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet reduces their risk of a fatal attack.
  • I love fish and living in Spain we are blessed with an abundance and variety so it is very easy to include oily fish at least three times a week. Some of the best for Omega-3 fatty acids are salmon, halibut, mackerel, sardines and Albacore Tuna.

Cholesterol is a natural occuring substance in the body which means that it needs to be there and is essential for health. One of the types of cholesterol has smaller particles and can become unhealthy when it is oxidised, usually because we have too much toxic sugars and industrially inserted additives in our diet.  For more information and how to reduce the LDL levels… here is the link


At this point a word about cooking your healthy meals – Olive oil is great and recent research has indicated that you can use at a higher temperature to cook your steak or fish. For cooking you can use the unrefined olive oil which is cheaper, but if you are drizzling over vegetables and salad I recommend Extra Virgin Olive oil so that it has not been over processed – do not be tempted to use the light versions! Cook smart and steam bake your food – if you are eating steak put in the oven in a pan with a grid so that the excess fat drains off – if you fancy a little butter on your vegetables, why not – great taste.

A little more info on Olive Oil – great stuff – potent mix of anti-oxidants that can lower the LDL but leave the HDL untouched – obviously if you are overweight it does have a high fat and calorie count but much better to use the Extra Virgin version and get the health benefits than use the diet alternatives.

The greatest gift you can give your body and its cholesterol is to avoid eating manufactured store bought cakes, biscuits, crackers some cheap breads, pasta dishes etc. If you make your own from scratch using butter and eat occasionally you will get a better tasting and healthier alternative.

To summarise – do not take fats out of your diet – use fresh, natural ingredients in your cooking, use fats and oils in moderation, eat plenty of vegetables, seasonal fruits, whole grains, dairy and eggs.

To view the other six chapters please follow this link

If you have any questions please feel free to email me on – very happy to help in any way that I can.

Please leave a comment or share.. best wishes Sally

©sallygeorginacronin Size Matters 2001 – 2015