With weight loss being one of the most common goals among the general population, it would make sense to focus on the scale, right?
Not necessarily. I definitely believe there is value in tracking your weight/BMI, but it is not the end all be all in terms of your health. Read that again, because it’s that important. Weight is not the end all be all in terms of your health.
First of all, let’s clear up that tracking BMI for adults is essentially synonymous to tracking weight. BMI is merely weight over height and is used as a standard measurement for large populations. It does not account for body composition (muscle mass, bone mass, body shape, waist circumference), genetics, or any other individual factors. In other words, no one standard measurement can account for the human condition and predict your overall health.
Here are a few examples. A professional athlete may have 10% body fat, but is considered “obese” on the BMI chart because of muscle mass. Is he/she unhealthy? Most likely no. A 5’5 120 pound female could eat fast food for every meal, never exercise, smoke, and feel like crap on a daily basis, but is considered “healthy” according to BMI. Is she healthy? Probably not. A 5’5 160 pound female could eat clean, exercise and strength train regularly, sleep 8 hours per night, feel good, and take care of her mental health, but is considered “overweight” (deemed by society as unhealthy). Is she unhealthy? Absolutely not.
All this seems obvious, but I think it’s important to get this message across and imprint it into everyone’s minds. This is not my way of making excuses for people who need to just buckle down and lose a few pounds for the benefit of their overall health; it is my way of giving some slack to otherwise healthy individuals who let the power of five stubborn pounds fester in their minds and negatively effect their self worth. In some circumstances, people will actually make themselves less healthy chasing this number by overexercising (which could result in burn-out or injury) and/or under-eating (which could result in the development of an unhealthy relationship with food). Essentially, you are robbing Peter to pay Paul. Do your best to avoid taking yourself out of a healthy state and into an unhealthier one for the sake of five pounds.
Five or ten pounds does not define you. Let your health be the motivation and guide your lifestyle, not a number!
Stephanie Spoto, CSCS