6 Free Tools for Managing Your Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is key to managing diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other health complications. It’s important to know your weight, your body mass index, and your ideal caloric count daily. Whether you need to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight, you need to participate in regular exercise. Here are 6 free tools for managing your weight.

1. Calculate your body mass index (BMI) by clicking on the link here. BMI measures your body fat based on your height and weight. Enter your weight and height. Click on the Compute BMI button. The guidelines will tell you where your BMI falls compared to averages for other men or women. Normal BMI lies between 18.5 and 24.9. (Use the Centers for Disease Control's BMI Calucator for children and teens.)

2. Determine the number of daily calories you need based on your age, gender, height, weight, and level of activity. The number you calculate is how many calories you need to maintain your current weight. If you want to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than this number.

3. SuperTracker. This is a free tool from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is three tools in one package:

  • It helps you create a personalized nutrition and activity plan.
  • It helps you track your actions to see how well they match your plan.
  • It provides coaching tips for making healthier choices.

SuperTracker lets you set goals, save and track your favorite recipes, compare the nutritional value of more than 8000 foods, and much more. This is a great place to start with your weight management plan.

Begin by creating a profile for yourself, so that you can set goals and retrieve records of your progress whenever you want them. Next, you will enter a Coaching Center that helps you create a plan. Once you set your current weight and goal weight, your plan sets a Daily Calorie Limit goal for you. It also sets the recommended daily eating levels from each food group:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Dairy
  • Grains
  • Proteins

Next, select your foods (for example, type in "rice" and you will see 20 different forms of rice listed to describe how you eat rice; white, brown, with or without salt, with or without added fats). You can then select the number of servings, including half-servings.

With each selection, the number of calories you will be eating is deducted from your available total for the day. You will know exactly how much food you can eat and stay within your caloric goal. Each selection also lists the number of empty calories included in your food to help you make better choices.

In addition, you can get free coaching tips that are based on your selections emailed to you regularly. SuperTracker is a great tool.

4. Make Your Calories Count. If you take in more calories than you burn during the day, you will gain weight. This fun, interactive tool helps you understand labels and how many calories are in a serving size. The exercises help you use the food label to make decisions about which food choice is right for you.

5. Use the 52 Small Steps activity guide to identify small steps you can take to begin improving your weight management. The guide lists 52 small steps you can take. The idea is to choose one new small step each week. An alternative is to find one that interests you and commit to doing it for a month. As you begin to see results, consider adding one more. The small steps include things such as:

  • Try a new fruit or vegetable.
  • Walk during lunch hour.
  • Eat half your dessert.
  • Avoid food portions larger than your fist.
  • Take your dog for longer walks.

6. Download a serving size card and carry it with you to remind you of the serving sizes for various types of foods. A serving size is the recommended amount of that food you should eat. Then, enjoy the interactive slideshow comparing portion sizes 20 years ago with those of today. You won’t believe the difference!

Six very handy tools for helping you achieve your weight management goals. Why not begin using one of them today?