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downers: your BMI

I hate weighing myself and do it as little as humanly possible.  But my doctor is always trying to weigh me, so I know I’ve been anywhere between X and Y pounds (a 20 pound range, leaving out pregnancy) since I reached my full height of 5’8″ and 1/2.  The Y was when I was in college, eating Panda House three times a week.  The X was about five months ago after six days of a cleanse and a particularly virulent bout of the flu.  I have little hope of attaining that number again, but it’s nice that I can cling to it in rough times.  It’s like how I cling to the fact that I got a perfect score on my verbal SATs whenever some troglodyte corrects me on my grammar or some ignoramus assumes I can’t speak English.  By the way, it’s amazing how much English you can learn from a steady diet of romance novels.  And yes, it HAS been really hard waiting until my 71st post to mention my SAT score from 17 years ago, thank you for asking.

In any event, you’re not supposed to care how much you weigh.  Instead, you’re supposed to care about your body mass index (“BMI“).  But I’m not sure the BMI thing works as it should.  Tom, not liking the results of his own BMI calculation, immediately dismissed the concept of the BMI as junk science.  And in his case, I’m inclined to agree.  We worked in reverse and calculated what he would need to weigh at his height (6’4”) to enter the lower end of the normal range, and it was like, 147 pounds.  I don’t want him to be unhealthy, but I also have myself to think about, and given that he is 8 inches taller, I require that there be more of a difference between our weights than the equivalent of a fat house cat.

Anyway, no matter how you slice it, the Body Mass Index is a downer.  So BMI: thanks for playing, but I reject you.

20 Comments Post a comment
  1. After having my BMI measured recently within a BUPA health check. I have now resigned myself to the fact that I contain as much fat percentage wise as Camembert Cheese.

    I am sure I could probably outrun a Camembert cheese and also beat it in any fitness test. So I have to agree that BMI is a load of tosh.

    Just look in the mirror and if you look bigger than you want to. Swap eating pies for carrots.

    July 6, 2012
  2. Actually BMI makes perfect sense – but only for its intended purpose. It was developed to get an estimate of obesity in large populations where doing body fat testing on everyone would take a prohibitive amount of time. For doing individual health diagnoses, it’s worse than a waste of time.
    I keep close track of my body fat on my fitness program. My current BMI is 34.3 – “Obese”. To get to a BMI of 29.9 – the upper end of “Overweight” – I would have to drop my body fat to less than 16% without gaining any lean mass (for a near-50-year-old man, that would be “fit”). To get down to 24.9 – the upper end of “Normal” – I would have to lose every ounce of fat in my body *plus* lose almost 3 pounds of lean mass.
    Anyone who believes in BMI over their own eyeballs in figuring out whether someone is fat, is just like those people who drive into ditches or up goat paths because their GPS system said to “turn left now”.

    June 5, 2012
  3. i just loved this post! so honest and funny

    May 30, 2012
  4. I tried to put troglodyte and ignoramus into the same sentence once but I only got a 720 on my verbal SATs so I couldn’t make it work.

    May 30, 2012
    • i feel sorry for you simon

      May 31, 2012
      • I am meagerly scraping by but your sympathy means more than you know.

        June 1, 2012
  5. Courtney #

    Are you lying about your SAT?

    May 29, 2012
    • don’t you feel bad now about asking if i speak english

      May 29, 2012
      • Courtney #

        How was I to know you spoke the language? Appearances can be deceiving I guess. That’s impressive.

        May 29, 2012
  6. inkandgardenia #

    I completely agree about the BMI thing. Apparently, I’m severely underweight (I’m naturally skeleton-thin) while my fiance is apparently obese (he’s naturally muscular). It’s a pile of baloney and I’m pretty sure the medical profession knows it – they’re just in denial.

    May 29, 2012
    • in researching this post i learned that sylvester stallone’s BMI is through the roof. proving, once again, that sylvester stallone always wins

      May 29, 2012
  7. BMI is BS. The end. Stupid thing told me in highschool that I had a BMI of something ridiculous like 25 or 23%. Of my body. Was fat. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was no stick (I am not built like that) but I was not a big girl. Nothing rolled. The BMI is a tool to make people hate themselves. The end. For real.

    May 28, 2012
    • it seems odd to have a health measurement that fails to take into consideration muscle tone and bone mass, but really, seems a wee bit better than using straight weight as an indicator of health

      May 29, 2012
  8. The author. #

    The BMI was developed by some sadist doctor to make EVERYBODY feel bad about their weight. Used to, all you had to do was go to Wal-Mart or the state fair, where you could immediately feel a sense of relief after comparing yourself to the masses. Now, not so. Plus, the BMI hardly budges even with a 10 or 15 pound weight loss. I say we start a campaign by becoming BMI deniers. If global warming isn’t true, there’s no way the BMI is.

    May 28, 2012
    • you forgot rite aid. wal-mart, state fair, rite aid. all good places to hang out to boost your self-esteem

      May 29, 2012
  9. DB #

    After an insane amount of weight loss–where I now weigh about what I did in high school–my doctor said “Congratulations! You now have a normal BMI. People like us [Normal BMIers] are only about 20 percent of the population.” It’s sort of the reverse of Lake Wobegon.

    That said, I’ve been watching the HBO obesity documentary, and it’s pretty sobering, so I’m not exactly sure where I come out on this. All i know is that the food program I’m on these days lets me eat dark chocolate (and, sadly, only dark chocolate) for treats, and I think that’s the key.

    May 27, 2012
    • David I saw a photo of you on Farah’s wall and hardly recognized you (you look great but you looked great before too). It has hit me hard in the last two years that at a certain point, weight management is all about limiting what you eat, and not how much you exercise. I expect it will take a couple more years for me to act on that knowledge, but progress is progress…

      May 27, 2012
  10. Shoe #

    Impressive self-restraint. 🙂

    May 27, 2012

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