Today I read a quite unbelievable article in national newspaper The Metro in the UK. Apparently an NHS nurse told a female body builder she was overweight and needed to go on a 1,000 calorie a day diet. While I hope this is perhaps taken out of context and sensationalised, I have witnessed firsthand some misconception about body weight and BMI.
One example springs to mind from a from a few years ago. I was explaining body stats to two girls who were friends. They were both very keen to find out their BMI. I told the first girl she was at 21.5 and then told the second girl she was at 22.3. At this point the first girl put her hands up in celebration as if she’d just achieved something great, and the second girl let out a sigh of disappointment. Such is our obsession with low body weight and BMI, even when it was shown that the girl with the higher BMI had many results showing a well above average relating to her fitness, she still wished she could be more like her ‘skinnier’ friend.
How much should you weigh?
The first thing we must realise is that all of the equations we use for measuring ideal weight, such as BMI, were invented by people. Nature did not set the parameters, people did.
We are told that a BMI between 25 and 30 is classed as overweight, but BMI does not take into account many factors that are more important to health than actual overall weight. In fact, it has been shown that people in the overweight category actually have a lower risk of death (http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/recipe-for-a-long-life-overweight-people-have-lower-death-risk-8434743.html). Although I am not a fan about this type of study, it does show how silly it can be putting exact categories on a sliding scale (as if someone who has 30 BMI has a whole host of potential health problems that someone who is 29.9 totally protected from).
The second thing to consider is that our overall body weight is affected by a variety of things, including muscle mass, hydration and carbohydrate levels. We should not let a number on the scales effect how we feel.
So what is the best measurement to use?
The best way to check whether you are at an ideal weight is by going off how you look and feel. If you look great, your eyes are bright, your hair is shiny and your skin is clear then you are probably pretty healthy. How alert do you feel? How awake? What are your energy levels like? If you leap out of bed every morning excited for the day ahead then you are on the right track. On the other hand if it takes you half an hour just to roll out of bed and 3 cups of coffee before you can get a coherent though there might be some things you need to work on.
Asking questions like these is a far better indicator of health than a number on the weighing scales. Alot of the time it is totally unnecessary to check a persons weight. Imagine an obese person walking into their doctors to see their GP. They struggle up the stairs and slump down on the doctors chair, which shake under their mass. Is it really nessecary to put this person on some scales to see there is something wrong? The person already knows what the problem, they eat too much of the wrong things. The doctor can tell just by looking that this person is overweight. Why humiliate them by getting them to step on the scale? The person probably feels bad enough already. The doctor would be better off giving them a compulsory 10 minutes cardio vascular workout and showing them something they can do everyday in their home, or referring them to someone like myself who can do that for them.
How are you feeling about yourself?
Ask Yourself the following questions 20 minutes after waking, lunchtime 12-1pm and in the evening 4-6pm
How much energy do I feel I have right now?
How awake/alert do I feel right now?
How do I feel about my body/fitness right now?
After asking these questions and noting down the results for 2 or 3 days, start looking for patterns. Are you always tired in the afternoon? Do you have zero motivation in the morning? Do you find it hard to sleep at night? There could be some simple lifestyle/routine changes that could give you much more energy evenly spread throughout your day, make you feel happier and even lose a few pounds without trying.
I hope you enjoyed reading this and found some useful insights, please hit the LIKE button. If you want to share your thoughts leave a comment at the bottom. SHARE and RETWEET on Facebook and Twitter. If you’d like more tips and advice you can follow me on twitter @GGreenFitness