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Interpreting Your BMI

BMI Weight Category
Under 18.5 Underweight
18.5- 24.9 Normal
25 - 29.9 Overweight
30 - 34.9 Obese
35 - 39.9 Clinically Obese
40 or greater Morbidly Obese

Body Mass Index (BMI) is a general indicator of whether or not you are maintaining a healthy weight based on the ratio of your weight to your height. It’s an imperfect scale as it doesn't account for differences in body types. For example, a 5 foot 9 inch bodybuilder who weighs 215 pounds and has a 6% body fat would be labeled obese. And there is already a new scale just for people from Southeast Asia where the ranges are lowered.

While it can be a good indicator of the healthiness of your weight if you fall within certain statistical norms that were used to develop it, it should be taken with a significant grain of salt and should not be used as a substitute for a professional evaluation of your health by a doctor.

Contact Us

Center for Weight Management
Two locations:

20 Research Place
North Chelmsford, MA 01863

203 Turnpike Street
2nd Floor
North Andover, MA 01845

Contact Us Form

Phone: 978-788-7200
TTY: 978-937-6889
Phone: 877-LGH-WELL

Maggie Marshall (from Chelmsford)

Gastric Bypass Patient Maggie Marshall:

"Never in my dreams did I think I'd weigh this little!"

"My weight gain happened later in life," says Chelmsford resident Maggie Marshall, 58. "I married at 35 and had kids at 38 and 41. So my weight gain was the result of being happily married to someone who enjoyed food, not getting around to losing the pregnancy weight, and then menopause after that."

By the time she was 56, Marshall weighed 263 pounds and wore a size 20W.

"Fortunately, I didn't have any comorbidities," she continues. "And I was a fairly active overweight person; I always exercised, walking three to four days a week at a fairly good clip."

"But I had some joint problems, and there were basic comfort issues," she admits. "Airline seats kept getting smaller, and it was hard to take my kids to the amusement park — I didn't want to break the Ferris wheel. So I took myself out of a lot of situations."

The most difficult aspect of being overweight, however, "is what it did to my head," Marshall says. "I could smile on the outside, but I was unhappy on the inside because of the way I looked. And I really wanted to be around for my children and, someday, grandchildren."

So she and her husband  also overweight  went together to Lowell General's Center for Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery.

"Part of our 'aha moment' was realizing that we can't help the fact that we're older parents, but we can help the fact that we're older, fat parents," she says.

Marshall opted for gastric bypass surgery, which she underwent in April 2011 (her husband chose the Lap Band® approach).

"I deliberately chose the surgery that was the strictest against cheating," she says. "I wanted to wake up and have a new set of rules I had to abide by."

It's worked. Today, Marshall weighs 150 pounds and wears a size 10. (Her husband has so far lost about 35 pounds, his cholesterol is down and his pre-diabetes has resolved.)

"Never in my dreams did I think I'd weigh this little!" she says. "I definitely have more physical energy, but there's also an accompanying lightness that goes with it. It was like I had a mental and physical ball and chain that I dragged around. And to lose the weight after two kids and menopause  it's mind-blowing, and I'm thoroughly enjoying it."

"While the weight loss, increased energy and self-esteem are great, there also are what I call 'non-scale victories,'" Marshall continues. "Like being able to squat down to get something from a bottom shelf without calling a tow truck to get back up. I can ride a bike easily. And I'm less reserved about trying new things because weight is no longer an impediment."

She believes that there are two keys to longer-term success after weight-loss surgery.

"One is having an exercise program that works for you," says Marshall. "I walk like a maniac three to four days a week. The buddy system keeps me going... I walk with a friend; I need the accountability."

"And you need to develop an intentional approach to eating," she continues. "That involves taking the time to plan meals, shop for them and cook them. Having my husband eating the same things has also made it easier for me."

Marshall has channeled some of her new found energy into serving as an ambassador for the Center.

"Because the program did so much to turn my life around, I felt compelled to become an ambassador to give back," she says. "And I still get while giving back; it's a nice circular thing."

What does being an ambassador entail?

"I attend a lot of pre- and post-op meetings to show people what they can expect, that this too can be their life once they're on the other side of surgery," she says. "It's like going to AA or Weight Watchers®, being among people walking the same walk... it helps keep you honest  and inspired.

"I tell them that the surgery itself is just a tool, a step in the right direction to a new you," she adds. "But if you take advantage of the tool you've been given, make the necessary changes along the way and avail yourself of all the support the Center has to offer, you stand a chance of a wonderful, permanent life change."

Click here to learn if you are a candidate for Surgical Treatment and find out when you can attend one of our FREE Weight Management Information Sessions.

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