The Western World’s obsession with obesity and how to ‘fix it’ continues with, seemingly, very few positive results but how do we know if the statistics which tell us that pretty much everyone will be too fat in 50 years time are accurate? So, how do you know if you’re obese? The standard test is BMI (Body Mass Index) which involves dividing your weight in pounds by your height in inches squared to deliver a number which we then view on a scale with ‘healthy’ being between 18 and 25. However, this doesn’t really take muscle mass into account; body builders for instance could easily find themselves shoved into the overweight category despite having very little body fat so how can you tell??
Forget the science for a moment, as there are loads of complicated ways to calculate your ideal weight, and think about how you feel. Our bodies, if we listen to them, are surprisingly helpful in telling us when there’s something wrong:
- Do you feel a heaviness in your body when you move?
- Do you feel that your legs easily support you or do you find that you often have aches and pains, especially after exercise
- Do you notice your breathing when you’re walking? Do you find that it becomes laboured after a walk of more than 10 minutes?
- When you sit down, can you feel your stomach resting on your thighs?
- Do you find that the skin on your inner thighs becomes chaffed and uncomfortable when you wear shorts in the summer?
- Do you find that the area underneath your breasts (men and women) becomes sweaty and itchy when you’re too warm?
- Does the skin under your arms become chaffed and uncomfortable after exercise or in warm weather
- Do you find that you often have pain in your knees and/or lower back?
- Do you find that you feel very tired even after a small amount of exercise?
- Do you eat even when your body is telling you that you are not hungry?
As well as ‘listening’ to our bodies, we should also be looking at them – really looking; not with any preconceived ideas or prejudices. You have known your own body your whole life and you know if what you see looks ‘right’ to you.
There are certain areas of our bodies which are more prone to carry excess fat than others and one of those is the tummy area. It’s widely accepted that it’s dangerous for our health to have too much belly fat but how much is too much? Well, have a look at these two pictures:
Both women are around a UK size 14/16 and would be considered ‘plus size’. However, the lady on the left is beautifully in proportion and obviously takes care of her body as it looks toned and healthy, while the one on the right is carrying all her excess fat around her mid-section which would indicate that she doesn’t have a healthy diet or lifestyle. Their BMI’s would probably be very similar but only one looks ‘fat’ and it’s likely that only one will be at risks of the health problems associated with obesity.
These two images illustrate the same thing but probably even more clearly:
These women both have pretty big arms but one has developed muscle through hours and hours of workouts, the other has stored an excess of fat in her upper arm area. As the woman on the left is so muscular it’s possible that her BMI would be similar to the young lady on the right despite them having very different body shapes.
You can have a higher BMI and still be fit and healthy (see stunning lady to your left) BUT only if you are carrying excess muscle and not excess fat. A truly good indicator is how much of you wobbles when you jump up and down – if it’s your arms, bum, stomach and thighs then, chances are, you have too much fat on your body. I know it sounds simple but would you prefer that or trying to work out your weight in pounds, height in inches squared and percentage body fat???
At the end of the day, you know your body far better than any man in a white coat……..unless you’re married to a doctor of course ;o)