Body Mass Index (BMI) has been back in the news this week. Does it need to change? Is it misleading? What does it actually tell us?
Now I make no excuses that I think BMI sucks. I speak both professionally and personally here too since I hate being told I’m overweight by a statistic when I’m actually quite happy in my size 10 jeans. The trouble is, BMI fails to take into account your muscle versus fat ratios or your bone density. It can’t show us how fat or toxic we are on the inside. Activity levels, muscle mass and ethnicity all have a part to play in our overall weight. However, when it comes to analysing a large group of the population what else can we use? I suppose we have to trust our GPs and health care providers to have a modicum of common sense alongside their scales and calculators.
It’s got me pondering that if BMI is so cruddy, how can we know if we’re healthy?
Well in my years of researching as both a journalist and fitness professional, there are a few factors that crop up time and time again. So here are a few:
You can’t ignore it. Obesity and visceral fat will increase your risk of disease and put a strain on your heart. Everything is harder if you’re carrying excess weight, from breathing and sleeping to running or even just fighting illness or recovering from surgery. But don’t get fat and weight confused. As a general rule fat wobbles. Muscles don’t. If you’re size is slowing you down it’s time to get a handle on it. If your squidge is beating your solids then it’s time to slow down on those pasta dinners.
Sweet zzz’s are vital to a healthy you. Sleep regulates our hormones and appetite. It’s what helps us to recover. And if your mind is busy in the dark hours it’s a sure sign that you’re not processing your stressors. Don’t ignore sleep issues, they matter. For better sleep avoid caffeine after midday (it has a seven hour half life), exercise in the morning and turn of technology an hour before bed.
Poo matters. As a mum, I’m fairly in tune with my son’s digestive health. It’s a great indicator of his wellness. And the same goes for you. Dodgy digestion means you’re not optimally absorbing nutrients from food. It’s your body’s way of saying something doesn’t agree with you. You’ll probably notice that your skin looks duller and you don’t sleep as soundly when your tummy’s out of sorts. Milk, wheat, sugar and yeast are all common trigger foods for bloating. To help tummy troubles take a course of probiotics and make sur you’re getting plenty of essential oils, dark green vegetables and water,
Now I’m going to say this gently, for fear of getting my head snapped off, but are you feeling a little hormonal? Rapid mood shifts from Jolly Jo to Grumpy Greta in seconds can indicate anything from hormone imbalance or poor nutrition (ever felt hangry?) to low immunity or of course stress. It’s not always the other half’s fault! Pay attention to swingy moods. Accept how you feel for the moment and take a time out.
AND A FEW OTHER SIGNS THAT ALL IS NOT WELL IN YOUR TEMPLE:
CRAVINGS (especially for sweet food)