BMI and “Ideal Weight”

Every year, I see certain posts circulate back around on social media about BMI and some Ideal Weight Chart. These posts drive me crazy! First of all, why does anyone feel the need to share this type of post on their personal social media accounts? I love to promote a healthy lifestyle on both my business and personal accounts, but a healthy lifestyle isn’t summed up in any chart or number. Instead of sharing a chart that’s going to make everyone feel bad about themselves, share something useful like a healthy recipe or a post with information about the benefits of getting regular exercise.

My biggest issue with BMI (Body Mass Index, calculated using height and weight) is that it doesn’t take into account muscle mass vs body fat percentage or body frame. I think BMI can be a helpful tool to get an idea of whether your weight is healthy for your height, but a more accurate measure of health is your body fat percentage. Body fat percentage can be estimated with measurements using calipers and more accurately with BodPod or Dexa body scans.

More than the BMI charts, I have a huge issue with these “Ideal Weight” charts. I saw one that said at 5’9″, I should weigh 140 lbs. It didn’t offer a range of weights for each height, just 1 number for each height and to me it seemed absolutely ridiculous! I don’t weigh 140 lbs, nor do I want to! What makes these weights “ideal”? I weighed about 140 lbs when my husband and I got married, I didn’t do any strength training, just cardio a few times a week and a decent metabolism. I looked skinny and I’d prefer not to look that skinny again. I know some people might think I looked great at that weight, it all depends on your personal opinion on muscle mass in women I guess, but I prefer my strong thick legs and booty to the stick thin look I had at that time.

Now that I’ve shared my opinion, you might be thinking “why was this important enough to write a blog post?” According to the statistics I found, 10 million women and 1 million men struggle daily in the United States with an eating disorder (https://www.eatingdisorderhope.com/information/statistics-studies). Body dysmorphia is also a huge issue for many people, some of whom also suffer from eating disorders and some of whom do not. By picking some arbitrary number and posting it in a chart all over social media, we’re fueling these issues. We need to teach people that healthy covers a range of body types, weights, sizes, and shapes. People need to learn how to have a healthy relationship with food, food is fuel for our bodies, so when we’re hungry we need to eat and stop eating once we’re satisfied (not stuffed). Healthy is a balance of being active, making good food choices, and loving our bodies for all the amazing things they’re capable of! Trying to box all of that in to some little chart that doesn’t measure activity level, food choices, overall emotional health, stress levels, etc. just doesn’t do anyone any good.

So, before posting some “Ideal Weight” chart on Facebook to show off to your friends that you’re right on the mark or to think you’re educating everyone on what healthy means, think about who you might be affecting because chances are a lot of your friends struggle with body image issues and your post just might be the thing that pushes them to do something unhealthy to try to reach this “ideal” you put out there.

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