The Body Mass Index, BMI

Hello everyone. How goes your choose-day, I mean Tuesday? If you are reading my blog here in America, can you believe Thanksgiving is already next week? If you are reading my blog in another country, let me know when you celebrate your Thanksgiving. And if you are not in a country that celebrates Thanksgiving, or you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here in America, let me know if you have a day out of the year where you try to stuff yourself with as much food as possible, to the point of an insulin induced coma, and then when you wake up you have dessert. That’s what many of us do on Thanksgiving here in America, and I don’t know how many of us truly give thanks that day. On a side note, I give thanks AFTER I eat because you never know what might happen during a meal. I am not a mobster, but they’re always getting shot up during nice meals. That’s why I say “thank you God for this meal” when I’m done. You just never know. It’s just one of my weird habits I have like pouring milk first, and then the cereal. And occasionally, I wear non matching socks. Uniformity can be b-o-r-i-n-g (yawn like a bored lion). Go ahead and try it. No, not yawning like a bored lion. Go ahead and wear mismatched socks sometime. No one has to know, and every time you take off your shoes you will just laugh. It works for me every time.

Today we will talk BMI. BMI stands for body mass index. It is a basic way of using your height and weight to tell if you are underweight, healthy, overweight, obese, etc. Here is a BMI chart.

BMI-Chart1

Now according to the BMI chart, my height of 5’11’, and my weight of 183 pounds would give me a BMI of around 25, and a BMI of 25 or higher is considered overweight. I can assure you I am not overweight. What the BMI chart does not take into consideration is muscle mass. The chart doesn’t know I workout 3 times per week with weights, hard as hell! The chart doesn’t know I have visible abdominal muscles. The chart only knows the relationship between height and weight. Look at the example below of 2 men of the same height and same weight. Both men are considered overweight on the chart, but only one truly is.

BMI

Most muscular athletes would be considered overweight or obese on a BMI chart. Here is Mike Tyson. At 5’10’ and 220 pounds, Tyson’s BMI is 31.6, and that BMI number would make him obese. This is what Iron Mike looked like in his boxing days at 220, his fighting weight.

Mike Tyson-Stills

You can call him crazy, but not obese or even overweight in this picture. By the way, if you ever do meet Iron Mike, don’t call him crazy because he can whoop your ass.

What often happens when someone is told by a health professional that they have a BMI that labels them overweight or obese is that they immediately Google BMI, and they come across the fact that BMI doesn’t account for muscles, and that having muscles like Tyson above can skew the BMI number in an unsatisfactory direction. With their new information many automatically think “That’s what it is! I have a lot of muscles, and they are heavy. There is no way I am overweight or obese.” And for some, this may be true. But for most, having muscles is not why the scale says what is says, and why the BMI numbers also says what it says.

sad-smiley-face

Let’s talk muscles for a bit. Yes, muscles are heavy, but so it fat. Muscles are not heavier than fat, just like iron is not heavier than cotton. A pound is a pound, no matter what you’re talking about. The difference between any two substances, elements, etc, including muscles vs. fat, is their densities. Muscles are much more dense than fat is. Below, both weigh 5 pounds, but the fat takes up more space. Muscle on the human body is dense, and BMI does NOT account for that.

fat-vs-muscle

That is why two men that are 6 feet tall and weigh 240 pounds can look completely different from each other if one is very muscular, and the other mainly does arm curls with beer.

beer-belly

My take on the whole BMI debate, or dissatisfaction with its accuracy, is to just use it as a baseline number. It’s a just another tool that can get you moving in the right direction, if that’s what you need to do. Another simple tool is a waist measurement at the belly button. Take a tape measure and measure around your waist at the belly button. Do not suck your stomach in like your posing for a picture, or taking a selfie! Just relax and measure around your waist. The National Institutes of Health recommends that a man’s waist measurement shouldn’t go above 40 inches and a woman’s should not be higher than 35 inches. And your waist size on your pants is not the size of your waist, like the dude above with the beer belly. I can assure you, and if you look closely you can also see that his waist measurement at the belly button area is much larger than his waist size on his pantalones. That’s why many men can claim that they still wear the same size pants they did ten years ago. What they don’t tell you is that 10 years ago their bellies used to just hang a bit over their belt buckles, but now, they hang a lot more over their belt buckles.

Remember, my blog is not about having six-pack abs or trying to have the body of a professional athlete. This blog is about weight loss, health, and a little fun on the way there. Like I said before, BMI is just a tool, so is your waist measurement, your weight, and your body fat percentage. I will cover body fat percentage some other time. For now, go buy a six-pack of beer, drink up with a friend, and then tape the six empty beer bottles to your stomach. Have your buzzed friend take a picture of you and you can forever say that you once had six-pack abs.

Six-Pack-Beer-2

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