According to the NZ Heart Foundation website, I am obese. I am 166cm tall and I weigh about 84kgs (185 lbs). Not my ideal weight by any stretch of the imagination, but I’m certainly NOT obese!!!
Back when I was 19years old, I was heavier than I am now, and a nutritionist in training I worked with had recorded my food intake and calculated my BMI for me. The next day she broke the news that I was “obese”. A bit stunned, I finished work, drove home and announced to my flatmates that I was obese and that if they didn’t want to be friends with a really fat person any more that I would understand. I was joking, of course. Not about the “obese” thing – that was a FACT. A “fact”.
I knew I was heavy and that was probably a bit of a wake up call to hear the word obese being hurled at me. Obese was bad. Obese was too big. Obese was really big! But I wasn’t that big…or was I? I could still tie my shoes, I could still see my toes, there was no mould growing in the folds of my skin, chaffing was a bit of an issue in the thigh area but I wasn’t losing skin there, as far as I knew I smelled fresh and clean and didn’t yawn a lot or waddle…I was confused.
I know the BMI is only an indicator and that many other factors have to be taken into account – body type, muscle mass, pregnancy etc. , but it seems a bit too strict. I am an hourglass lady with boobs, a bum and hips, I am not pregnant and I am active. I have pretty thick calves and sizeable thigh muscles and I could definitely use some toning up and trimming down, but OBESE? Really?! That is a strong word; not to be bandied around willy nilly!
There was a time, once, when I was 20kgs lighter than I am today. I was 21, depressed, not exercising apart from the walk too and from work and didn’t love cooking. I fit into size 10 jeans and still thought I was a heifer. My friend Stacey told me later, after I’d gained a bit of weight, that I’d looked “gaunt” back then. I didn’t think I did, but then I’m maybe not the best person to judge – I didn’t think I was obese once upon a time but apparently I was. Yet, at 65kgs I was considered to be a “healthy weight”. How does “gaunt” fit in with “healthy”?
Right now, to be a “healthy weight” according to the NZ Heart Foundation site, I would have to drop 16kilos, to lower my risk of “obesity related diseases”. I don’t smoke, I eat a balanced diet and I exercise on a regular basis. Still, I remain obese. My current target is to get into the mid 70kg range where I’d still be considered “over-weight”. An improvement on obese but still a little bit of a negative connotation surrounds that phrase. I can’t win!
I know that as long as I feel good about the way that I look, regardless of my BMI, then I think I’m OK. I love food too much to be super skinny and I love my health enough to not be a drain on the healthcare system.
I do think the BMI is a useful indicator for those who do not exercise, smoke, gorge themselves on salty/sugary/fatty treats every day etc. , but for a lass that doesn’t, the BMI seems a little bit dinosaur for my liking. We should all be striving to avoid obesity related heart diseases for so many reasons but is the BMI the most effective way to calculate this?