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Why the Scale and BMI are Garbage

Posted May 19th, 2014 in General, Fitness, Wellness

Why the Scale and BMI are Garbage

Recently, my husband and I took our 5 -month old son, Oliver, to his well baby check up. At every doctor’s visit they look for the same things and we pretty much know what to expect. Is he growing? Is he gaining weight? Is he reaching his milestones?

We could easily answer yes to all of these questions and the visit was pretty seamless. Oliver gained 1 whole pound since the last visit and we are blessed in the sense that he is a really happy baby. He nurses well, loves to eat his pureed food, sleeps through the night, and smiles and laughs A LOT.

The previous visit; however, didn’t go so seamless. Prior to the visit, Oliver wasn’t nursing so well. It was a rough week to say the least. To make matters worse, according to the growth chart, he was a little underweight and the doctor suggested that I go on medication to help with milk production. I was a bit stunned that he so quickly wanted to put me on medication when all other signs show that Oliver is a growing, happy boy. My gut instinct knew I didn’t have a milk production problem. My husband then asked what the doctor was using for reference, and as most doctors’ offices do, he was using a chart based on formula fed babies.

In my mind; however, the damage was already done. What’s wrong with me? Am I not producing enough milk? I eat right and I exercise daily, am I not sleeping enough? Am I stressed? How could I not be providing for my child? Am I spending too much time on my business and not connecting with Oliver? I was completely beating myself up for a whole week.

But we’re women. And we do this. I bet men even do this too, but they just don’t talk about it as much. We get stuck on the numbers. We step on the scale and it either makes us or breaks us. Why? IT’S JUST A NUMBER? It says nothing about your character, your heart, your intelligence, your perseverance, the people who love you, the people you’d throw yourself in front of a moving bus if you had to because you love them that much. IT’S JUST A NUMBER.

The BMI, Body Mass Index, is also heavily used in the medical world, but highly discouraged in the fitness world. Why? Because it’s skewed. It doesn’t take into account lean muscle mass or bone density. You are considered of normal weight if your BMI is between 18.5 and 25. You are considered overweight if your BMI is between 25 and 30. Lastly, anybody with a BMI of 30 or more is obese. Based on a number, a 6ft-tall triathlete weighing 200lbs may have the same BMI (26) as a couch potato of the same height and weight. BMI is JUST A NUMBER.

How about we stop beating ourselves up? How about we take the same energy it takes to step on the scale or calculate our BMI, and use it to lace up our shoes and get moving. Focus on how your clothing fits. A heavier waistline is linked to Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but our bodies are a constant work in progress. Stop waiting until things are “perfect” to join a program or to start being more active.  I wanted six pack abs like yesterday, but I realized I just had a baby and things take time. I can’t preach to love the skin you're in 24/7, because I know it’s hard, and it takes daily, constant mindfulness and acceptance, but cut yourself a break, will you? After Oliver’s two teeth popped through and I realized the poor nursing was due to the pain from teething, I know I did. Oliver jumped right back on track and all of that worrying was for nothing. IT’S JUST A NUMBER. You are so much more than that.

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