The Numerous Numbers of Health and Fitness Part 2: BMI

Part 2 of the Numerous Numbers of Health and Fitness. Today I will cover BMI or Body Mass Index. I actually like this measurement for myself ha ha. Pretty much because its' almost the only one that says I am considered at a healthy weight. (I hear the gasps...yep, so you know what is coming with all the others). BMI is still used by most traditional medical providers as a way to measure body fat of men and women based on height and weight. To measure BMI, all you need is your height and weight. It doesn't take into account ANYTHING ELSE. So you see how it could be flawed right? It doesn't take into account age, or whether you are petite, average or big-boned, or whether or not you have a lot of muscle (athletes). This is the BIG FLAW with BMI, it only uses two items of a person’s body to determine "underweight" "normal weight" "overweight" and "obese."  And guess what? The military health system uses this scale. The military also uses BMI for enlistment requirements. Once you are already in, most Branches use a body fat percentage for already in uniform standards, but if you see a military health system doctor, they will classify you according to your BMI. According to the National Institutes of Health: "The higher your BMI, the higher your risk for certain diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, gallstones, breathing problems, and certain cancers." But the NIH also admits to its flaws stating, "It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build. It may underestimate body fat in older persons and others who have lost muscle." I will always be transparent with you all with my own personal stories about my health and weight loss journey.  My BMI is currently 23.3. Which is considered healthy weight. But it is creeping towards the top of the scale. The threshold to being overweight is 25. I happen to be petite, so the BMI is kinder to me than a taller person, but I am also more muscular than the average woman, so I have that added weight. But it wouldn't take much to put me right over into the "overweight" category for the BMI. Many arguments exist for getting rid of BMI altogether, and I already discussed some above. Another argument is that it is not a reflection of health. Someone with a healthy BMI could have Type 2 Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc. Just because your BMI says you are at a healthy weight, does not mean you are healthy. I can attest that at my lowest weight as an adult...a whopping 108 pounds! I was NOT healthy! I had horrible constant blood sugar lows to the point of having numerous incidents of passing out. I had headaches almost on a daily basis. I was anxious and stressed. I was grieving for my dad. I was going through a very hard time physically and spiritually. Now at around 130 pounds, I can say I have never been healthier, inside and out. I feel healthy and strong. I rarely have those horrible blood sugar drops and headaches. I may not wear a size 00 anymore, but guess what, that 00 didn't make me happy or healthy. We know the military tracks BMI, and that will not change anytime soon until the general medical field stops using it. But the point of this entire series is that these measurements usually only take into account a few bits of data to determine “healthy.” We are complex beings and not everyone is the same. Pay attention to how you feel. Are you tired all the time? Do you have trouble sustaining physical activity without having to stop to rest? Do you get sick often? Is your body so large that you cannot fit into many seats or tight spaces? These are things that indicate that you are not healthy. And that means YOU have to change. None of these numbers are motivation for change. We all have to find those internal and external reasons to do so. The reason could be as simple as not wanting to be discharged from the military, to wanting to make sure you live long enough and are healthy enough to walk your daughter down the aisle one day. Whatever it may be, you have to FIND YOUR WHY.


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