Why The BMI is Total BS and How You Can Change Your Relationship with the Scale
Let’s talk about weight. For women, the number we see on the scale has tormented us for most of our lives. We have our rituals that could consist of obsessively weighing ourselves. Or, maybe it is taking off every once of clothing (including a hair-tie) and making sure you only step on that scale first thing in the morning, after your pee, of course, all in hopes of getting the lowest number possible to show up on the scale. My husband is the opposite! He will only step on a scale at night time after a whole day of eating because he likes the number to be higher. It is a physiological game that we all play and for what? Is it for health? Or, is it for something else?
At my most unhealthy place mentally, I was weighing myself daily and even got a little high from seeing the numbers go down each time. If it didn’t go down, I would feel defeated and mad at myself. It was such a strange time in my life because it wasn’t representative of the real me. Then, one day I snapped out of it when I cried after licking frosting off of a baking sheet. Not my proudest moment, but one that needed to happen. I thought to myself, “This is not me!” And, from that day forward I decided I was worth more than living that kind of life.
That was almost ten years ago! I can honestly say it is hard for me to even relate to myself and that time in my life because I am an entirely different person in the best way. I started Healthy is the new Skinny right after I had that power realization and I feel as though HNS was my process to discovering the real me, the healthy me, and laying the foundation for the woman I will continue to become. I have graduated from the HNS school, and I am excited to move more into sharing the lessons I learned along the way.
Changing my relationship with my body is what changed my relationship with the scale! There were long periods, even years, that I didn’t weigh myself at all because it was too triggering and not good for my mental health. Instead, I focused on learning about how to cook healthy meals I enjoyed and being more active. That was also when I began to study advertising and phycology. I was doing a lot of work mentally as well as physically, and the scale was not beneficial to me at that point in my life because it was more about healing.
Throughout several years of my healing, studying, learning, and understanding my body and how I had come to feel the way I did about it, I would weigh myself periodically not as a goal or punishment, but as a frame of reference. What I discovered was that my body liked to stay between 163-170 pounds. Even when I was working out hard and eating great, and when I was on a dry spell of no working out or eating that well, my body naturally stayed in that range. It was the AH-HA moment for me because I realize for the first time that around 168 pounds is my natural weight. What I have only recently come to understand is that the total number that we see on the scale is made up of several important contributors like a muscle, body fat, bone, and water percentages. It is crazy to me that I had never even thought about that before I did a full body reading on the “Work It” Digital Body Analyzer scale.
We are also told that we need to calculate our health by the BMI, body mass index. The BMI takes your height and weight to calculate a number based on those attributes to determine if you are overweight or in a healthy rage. Doctors and even schools still use the BMI as a measure of health. But the BMI is not an accurate depiction of personal health because it can not differentiate between the contributing factors of weight like body fat, muscle mass, water retention, and bone density.
Each person's body is entirely different and understanding your body’s calculations beyond the BMI and the weight number its self is a game changer. For example, my BMI calculated to 24.8 which leaves me at the verge of overweight. I am still in the healthy range but barley according to the BMI chart. When I calculated my total body reading on the “Work It” Digital Body Analyzer I learned that my muscle mass is a high percentage, my body fat is in the healthy range (but towards to the far end), my bone density was a little low, and my water was also low. This was so interesting to me because muscle mass is denser than body fat, and I am high in muscle mass that would affect my weight number as well as my BMI reading. Learning that my body fat percentage was in the healthy range was really cool! I honestly had no idea, and I felt great knowing my reading was healthy regardless of the weight number. I was however shocked to see that my bone density and water reading was low. Learning that leads me to be more conscious of the amount of water I consume and researching what I can do to better my bone health. (Watch the full video to see Bradford and my full body readings.)
I have reached a healthy place in my mind, body, and spirit. The number on the scale no longer holds power over my self-esteem or self-worth. Now, it is all about treating my body well and being physically healthy because I want to have a fantastic quality of life longterm. I want to raise my kids and have the energy to play and have fun. Bradford and I love to travel and explore the world, and we need to be in shape to make the most of our adventures. And, we want to still be living our best lives well into retirement, and that doesn’t involve sitting and watching TV all day. These are our goals and being conscious of your health is a powerful tool in reaching those goals.
If you are not in a place in your life where stepping on a scale is going to benefit you, don’t do it! If you are in the same space as me and want to use the scale as a gauge of health, make sure you are understanding all of your weight contributors because you are not a number! If you get your total body reading and see places you can improve, like my bone and water reading, make those improvements your goal vs. the weight number its self. Who cares what that says if you are improving your body percentages and getting those in a healthy range!