BMI – again!

13 Feb

BMI is something that intrigues me – according to the scale I am still overweight, however let’s consider a couple of things.

1. When I was in my teens and early 20s and classified as a ‘normal’ weight, I smoked a bit, drank a lot, eat poorly, looked dreadful and was very unfit, I did no exercise whatsoever.  And looking at the photos I am far too thin, I was constantly ill and in my 20s developed ME.

2. Now and classified ‘overweight’ I can cycle 12k without trouble, go to the gym 3 times a week, swim 2k in a normal session (but have done 10k), can run up stairs – oh and I eat incredibly well, drink sensibly, don’t smoke and outpace people 10 years younger than me who are classified as ‘normal’.   I have no health problems of any kind, my visceral fat is normal and my doctor and knee surgeon are more than happy with my health. In fact due to my progress through cruicate ligament rehab I was discharged 3 months early due to my fitness levels and effort which had put some of the sports people he treated to shame, mention was made during the surgery that my muscles were in incredibly good condition for my age and that this was down to the work I’d done pre-op.   I am a comfortable UK size 14 with some size 12s in my wardrobe.   From a looks point of view if I were to go down a considerable amount more I would not be happy, due to being as big as I was at the start, there is a high chance the loose skin would be unmanageable and I could end up more self conscious about my body than when I started which would be a ridiculous position to be in. I am trying various things to help this but it has been such an extreme loss that I am realistic about the outcome, my skin stretched badly even when I was a teenager so the collagen isn’t particularly good in my family history so biology may not be on my side.  Just in case you were wondering, no I wouldn’t consider surgery as an option to rectify this.  

Yet if you base my health on BMI alone it says that I am in trouble?    This makes no sense.  I am miles away health wise from how I was as ‘normal’ and certainly from where I was as obese.   My fitness levels are good, my skin and hair sparkle and I don’t get sick.  

If I had lost the weight with no exercise I could understand the debate and I would be totally behind it, after all this is what can happen after extreme diets and gastric surgery, however I didn’t and  just because you’re in the ‘normal’ bracket, it doesn’t mean you are fit and healthy.  

I am 100% behind the fact that being overweight presents health risks however losing the weight alone may not rectify all of them.  Prior to my knee surgery I had a long conversation with the practitioner who was doing my full health assessment, he was getting angry about the emphasis being placed on BMI alone and as a orthopeadic centre they were moving towards using other factors as it wasn’t enough, post surgery you have to be able to do the intense physio, if you’re unfit you won’t be able to do it, therefore it was imperative that this was considered and I had to sign up to this before the operation could even take place.  They now take a full lifestyle survey, and interestingly they had no concerns about my weight because they could clearly see I was fit and healthy.  They had in fact rejected people for surgery in the past who were ‘normal’  if they weren’t up to doing the physio.

Last summer I went to an event, the way out to the car park entailed climbing quite a steep hill, I was astounded that much younger apparently ‘normal weight’ people really struggled with this, yet I bounded up with no trouble and wasn’t out of breath.   I see them in the gym too, struggling to even put the bike onto resistance level 2.

How many people are sitting at a ‘normal’ weight yet are unfit, you can smoke, drink, eat dreadfully and still be a ‘normal’ weight.  You can even have high visceral fat and not be obese due to your lifestyle choices.  You can quite happily go online, put in your height and weight, get a ‘normal’ reading and think things are fine, yet is that the full story? 

Health is something that has to be considered using lots of different factors, yes weight is one indicator but it shouldn’t be the only one.  I’m measuring now in terms of fitness levels, body fat, visceral fat, not having any health issues, my immune system function, how well I eat, sleep, etc etc  – I am in a very good place.   If I lose more weight as a consequence of all the work I do, that’s great but it’s not the be all and end all, it’s one factor in developing a healthy, fit, safe lifestyle that is sustainable in the long-term.  

This is far more important to me.  I’m not advocating being overweight more that a holistic view is taken, if you really want to improve your total health, losing weight alone may not do this?  



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