My doctor’s appointment was uneventful until I left her office with some printouts about my current state of health, which were based on my vitals taken at check in and automatically printed out. One paper was entitled, “BMI—Overweight,” and it got my attention in a bad way. Just my luck that I’ve been tracking my eating and physical habits for over a year that I can defend myself. Check out the “helpful” suggestions.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. BMI is a reliable indicator of body fatness for most people and is used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems. An ideal BMI for persons ages 18-65 is between 18.5 and 24.9. An ideal BMI for persons 65 and older is between 23.0 and 29.9. Your BMI indicates you are overweight.
Apparently my doctor’s office must not listen to NPR or read a mathematician’s analysis that is skeptical of the BMI scale. (A mathematician originally invented the BMI scale.) One reason is that it can make short people think they’re thinner than they are and tall people (like me!) think they’re fatter than they are. The BMI scale isn’t accurate either because it doesn’t distinguish between fat and muscle and it doesn’t know fat distribution. My doctor’s office also disregards the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) disclaimer that BMI shouldn’t be a diagnostic tool. Not only that, but the BMI scale is nearly 200 years old, and I’m not sure I wanted to be diagnosed by something that was developed during a time when hysterectomies were thought to cure ladies of the crazy.
Being overweight increases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer. the keys to losing weight and keeping it off are healthy, eating, regular physical activity, and eating fewer calories than your body uses. Initial weight-loss goal should be 10% of your body weight over the next six months. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Those suggestions are ground-breaking, but let’s take a closer look at this “advice.” Instead of seeing the asshole commenter who loves to say, “Just eat less and exercise more and everything will be okay,” I now see this same asshole in paper form only with an MD to back it all up. Wonderful except it’s bullshit.
People who have been overweight throughout their lives have a harder time losing weight than those who are not. Not only that but when an overweight person tries to lose weight, his body actively works against him to keep that extra weight. This includes going into starvation mode and making him think he’s hungrier than he actually is. (Does no one at my doctor’s office read the New York Times?)
1) Change your diet: eat 500 fewer calories a day. This can l ead to weight loss of one pound per week. Make healthy food choices such as fruits and vegetables, salads, fish, lean meat, and whole what bread. Decrease portion sizes. Avoid soft drinks, and minimize alcohol intake.
I’ve been tracking everything I eat for over a year now and those numbers won’t lie! Considering that I only consume an average of 1300-1900 calories a day, this advice means I should be down to 800-1400 calories instead. I’m already hungry enough as it is, but I guess I’ll ignore my body and stay that way. Awesome!
My diet diary also tells me that I get plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and salads. Every time I eat this stuff, I get a big, condescending gold star across my phone screen. I haven’t had a soft drink in nearly two years, and my 2-3 glass of alcohol intake is now on a monthly basis. Gee...I wonder what’s next?
2) Increase physical activity: exercising helps burn extra calories. It also strengthens your heart, decreases your risk of developing many medical problems and may help you lose weight and keep it off over time. Walking goal should be 30 minutes per day five times per week.
According to my FitBit, which I’ve been wearing every day for over two years, I not only meet this recommendation, but I exceed it. On average, I get 10,000 steps a day. My best day was 30,000 steps, which I hit twice in the last year. Every weeknight, I’m on the elliptical for 30-60 minutes, depending on whether Netflix has anything good. I also walk and take the steps wherever I can. I burn a daily average of 2200-2500 calories.
Yet despite all my healthy efforts, my weight and my size 10/12 dress size remains the same. It’s almost as if my body is working against me.
But this printout isn’t about me; it’s about every other patient who gets it in every doctor’s office across the country.
I understand that millions of people in this country are struggling with weight loss issues. But a (pardon the pun!) one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t take into account other major factors such as: genetics, income levels, why cheap food is so cheap, the prominence of high fructose corn syrup, an individual’s weight history, and so many more. How come no one ever asks why a bag of Doritos is cheaper than a bag of apples or why a Happy Meal is half the cost of a grilled skinless chicken breast? It’s just easier to look at a fat person and write her off as a lazy donut addict who lacks self-control rather than examine what the U.S. government incentivizes or what the big industries have done to food over the past century.
Besides fat-shaming may be the only source of smug a person gets all day.