I don’t remember the first time I learned of the Body Mass Index (BMI), but I know the only times I generally heard about it was when someone was using it to tell me that how fat I was. I never had anyone explain the BMI to me in a way that sounded even remotely positive. When I would ask what the purpose of the BMI scale is, I was told that it’s to tell you what you should weigh.
Well, I know about what I should weigh, and even the high “normal” range is too low for me. I decided the problem was with the BMI itself. I found out that there are other countries who have BMI ranges that are different from ours. And when you consider that we live in a country where we are constantly being told that we’re too fat, and fashion models, who look like they were rescued from Ethiopia, but never got fed, are paraded in front of us, effectively telling us “This is what you SHOULD look like”.
So, it seemed quite logical to me that the BMI was just another tool to promote unrealistic health goals. And that’s where I left it.
I suppose it also didn’t help matters that for my entire adult life, I’ve been gaining weight and getting farther and farther away from what the BMI chart claims is my normal weight range, until I got to the further point away that I’ve ever gotten – 560 pounds. At that point the BMI may as well have been BFS (I won’t spell that one out for you), for all I gave a damm about it.
This past week, I’ve spent some time thinking about my weight loss goals, along with my current progress. Up until now, I wou have liked to have made it down to 200 pounds, but didn’t think it likely. My real goal was a settlement, I decided to settle for ANYTHING under 250 pounds. I told myself that 250 was a reasonable number, and I know from experience that it’s a weight at which I was able to do far more than I can now. I couldn’t really run, but I could do everything else, and I never liked running anyway.
Now that I’m down around 450, 200 pounds doesn’t seem all that crazy. In fact, I could even see myself getting below 200 pounds. It was at that point that I started thinking about the BMI chart again. Hadn’t I decided that getting under 200 was A. impossible, and B. unhealthy? And, in reality, hadn’t I decided that the BMI simply wasn’t worth my time?
Sure! At 560 pounds, very little is worth the limited time you have left! So, I saw down and started looking over the BMI system again. You know… this is completely different from what I’m thinking. One of my biggest problems with it was that I didn’t understand how they came up with these numbers? Is it just based on what’s generally attractive, these days?
Looking at it in detail, I came to understand that it isn’t that at all. Medical studies, based on our own people, have given us the values we use in our BMI, and although they do use the word “normal”, a completely BS word, I have to admit it is appropriate here. Normal is just supposed to describe a range of values that is being measured. That’s what the BMI system is, a system of measurement.
They’re measuring, using your weight and height, the likelihood that you will have health problems as a result of your weight. The numbers are based on studies that have been performed – what type of health problems do these people here have, and what is their BMI?
Basically, what’s been found through such studies is that if your weight falls between 18.5 and 24.9, you are at the lowest possible risk for weight related health problems. I don’t know that it’s a guarantee, but it’s as close as you can get with medical science (and that’s nothing to sneeze at!). What does 18.5 and 24.9 mean? Well, for me, that’s a range with the low point being 133-136.5 (I’m between 5’11 and 6 feet tall) and the high point would be between 178.5 and 183.5. So, as long as I stay between 136.5 and 178.5, I basically have nothing to worry about, healthwise, from my weight.
So – another point of the BMI that I used to scoff at (because I really didn’t understand it properly) – the “overweight” crowd. You mean to tell me that if I go from 183.5 to 184, I’m suddenly “overweight”? Really? The thing that we have to understand is that Science doesn’t judge! You can fall into the overweight category, and it doesn’t mean that you’re fat, it doesn’t mean that you’re ugly, just like being in the “normal” category doesn’t mean you’re attractive.
So, what does overweight mean? Well, just as “normal” means that you’re at the lowest possible risk for weight related health issue, when you enter the overweight range, you start to put yourself at risk for these issues. But it isn’t like “Uh-oh, you’re 5 pounds overweight! You’re going to die of diabetes!” We’re talking more like “You’re 5 pounds overweight. Now you may be at risk for certain health problems, but it’s not like it’s going to happen tomorrow. You may being developing them, and at the point we’re describing (just entering the “overweight” category), you don’t have much to worry about. Yes, in time, you may develop some problems, but will they kill you? Very unlikely.
However, the farther up and farther in you get, the more risk you put yourself at. The overweight category is from 25-29.9. So, we have just shy of 5 units to move around in. Notice, though, that the normal weight category runs from 18.5-24.9 – that’s 6 and some change. So we had more wiggle room in the normal range than we do in the overweight range. That makes sense, because the more weight you put on, once your past the normal weight range, the more health problems you put yourself in the way of.
Just for the record, in my case, my overweight BMI starts with 183.6 to 184.1 and ends with 214.5 to 220.5. So, what happens when I go from 220 to 221 pounds? That’s when I fall into the world of the “obese”. From my understanding, people that are obese are no longer “at risk” for “some kind of weight-related health problem”. Generally, by the time you hit that range, you already have at least one.
Obesity is divided into different categories. There is plain obesity, which is more or less borderline overweight/obesity. Then there’s severe obesity (depending on which sources you are dealing with) and morbid obesity. The last mentioned range is one in which you can expect to die from the complications your weight is bringing upon you.
You may notice that I’m not assigning BMI values to these higher categories. That’s because they change depending on whom you are talking to. Some organizations don’t even have names beyond obesity, they just divide it into classes.
According to some, I’m in a different category than morbid obesity, one that is worse – super obesity. Beyond that there is “super super obesity”. Sounds kind of like “double secret probation”. On one hand, it may seem like there’s no point to classifying obesity beyond “this kind of obesity will kill you”. On the other, if you hit that range and continue to gain weight, the risks increase, just as before. This translates out to – “you’re still going to die, it’s just going to happen sooner”.
Now, morbid obesity is NOT a death sentence. People claim that smoking takes years off of your life. Some go as far as to try and define how many years. Smoking cigarettes has the potential to make one’s life shorter, but a lot of that depends on frequency of use, length of years smoking, etc… and none of it is definite.
Furthermore, when you stop smoking, the amount of time that you potentially lose decreases. Part of the reason for that is that your lungs repair themselves. They clean themselves out (one of the nasty parts of quitting smoking) and begin to work on all the scar tissue that your habit has created in your lungs.
Yesterday, I pointed out my belief that the human skeleton is capable of adapting to one’s body weight, whether you gain weight or lose it. This is based on the fact that the human body is designed to repair itself. I believe the same about weight loss. If you lose that weight, and go down from morbid obesity, gradually approaching a healthy weight, you are allowing your body to repair itself. It won’t happen overnight, don’t get me wrong, but if you can get yourself NEAR a healthy weight, AND MAINTAIN it, I believe you will see many, if not all of those problems go away over time.
And if you get yourself down to a healthy weight? Could all of those problems go away with time? Could you erase the probability that you will die from weight issues? YES!
So, to my friends whose weight puts you in a category that is so bad, it can’t even be AGREED UPON, join me. I know it doesn’t seem like you can get down to a healthy BMI, don’t worry about that right now. If all you do is go from being morbidly obese to “overweight”, you will be doing your body “whole bunches of good!”, as Bill Cosby would say. And once you get a sizable chunk of that blubber off of you, you’ll realize that the uphill battle you’ve been fighting doesn’t look half as bad as it did from the bottom of the hill.
New York Boy – Neil Diamond
Looking at the World through a Windshield – Del Reeves
Woman Tonight – America
I’ve Loved These Days – Billy Joel
Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown – Jim Croce
Game Day (A Capella tribute to popular sports music) – BYU’s Vocal Point
Renegade – Styx
SOS – Mamma Mia Soundtrack
Take on Me – Aha
Love’s Theme – Barry White
Eat the Rich – Aerosmith
Our first special comes straight from Dr. Eeks who always practices what she preaches, especially when it comes to beating depression and improving your life!
For those of you that still have doubts about losing the weight, check out this video. I found it the other day, and was a little surprised at the similarities that we share.
We return to photobotos with today’s refreshing picture.
Everyone have a wonderful day!