There’s been a lot of controversial information coming forward on BMI (body mass index) and obesity lately. For those unaware, BMI is determined by calculating height and weight to determine amount of body fat. You can imagine that there are TONS of problems with this method, since it has nothing to do with the actual body composition. Not only is the BMI test really inaccurate and incompetent in gauging health, but it has profound effects on people’s self esteem. I found a great article about this on BlissTree and thought it was definitely worth sharing. Over at Reddit’s TwoXChromosomes page, it’s “Image Fest Friday,” which has led to lots of awesome self-esteem and body image-themed threads that will leave you oozing with confidence. But one post in particular highlights another issue: Mainly, that BMI is bullshit…and terrible for body image. The post, from user daclamp, explains how bad she’d been feeling about her body…until she saw this photo of herself at a belly-dancing performance:
“For the past several months, the person I see in the mirror is a big fat fatty. This picture was taken last weekend. Self-image is a sonofabitch, I look damn good!” she states. And judging by the flood of responses, a lot of other women feel the same.
A little background: I am 5’7″ and fluctuate between 160-170. According to webMD, I am overweight. Lol. Last Spring, I changed my diet, started the insanity workout, and got myself down to 145. It looked pretty good [see: photo to the right] and I was happy with my body. I gained it all back since then, and then some. I’ve been feeling really shitty about it and have had no motivation to get back into exercising regularly. My clothes are snug and my stomach hurts towards the end of the work day. The pictures I saw and feedback I got from my performance last weekend got me thinking about it. Why am I beating myself up? I’m healthy, I look good. Deal with it. I still plan to get a regular exercise routine going. My mood needs it.
The moral of the story: Your mirror and the shitty voices in your head are in cahoots. Fuck that.
BMI can be misleading if you are say a short, muscular female – you’ll appear “fatter” than you are, as BMI is merely a calculation using height and weight (weight not being necessarily a good indicator of “fat”).
BMI is a waste of a test, it’s very old school. All it looks at is height and weight, so your BMI can be falsely elevated for a large number of people; it can also be falsely negative for a large portion of the population strictly based on your height and your weight. It doesn’t look at anything to do with intracellular body composition; it is strictly a ratio.
So why do we place such a premium on the notion of that perfect, healthy weight? Why isn’t “trying our best” enough when it comes to weight loss? A brief review of the history of dieting suggests that our personal best has never been enough. We seem bent on bouncing from dietary extreme to dietary extreme, serially adopting—and ditching—truly traumatic diets.
If you truly want to improve your health, don’t aim for perfection. Aim for what I like to call your “best weight.” Never forget that your personal best, even when it comes to weight, is always great. Don’t let anyone, any chart or any doctor, ever tell you differently.