Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Don't make me too skinny!

Some of you may not have read my About Me post and if you haven't had the chance, you would not know I am in medical school.  I won't dwell too much about that, but if you are interest in more on that, check out that post.  This is a sensitive topic for some, so I hope I don't offend anyone...

One thing I always wonder is why people are so resistant to the standards medicine uses to determine a healthy body weight.  If a person is losing weight truly for "health" reasons (whether that be the only reason or like most people there are additional ones) then why not accept the years of research that health professionals have done and reach for the "health" standards? 

Let's talk BMI for example - that is my main tool for determining where I should be.  Not how I look, not how many times other people say "you don't need to lose any (more) weight!", not a man saying "I like my woman with some meat on her, here's another cookie", etc.  But the BMI - body mass index.  The tool that has been developed to determine at what weight we are at risk for less diseases!!!  I hear SO many people say....where they (medical professionals) say I should be is WAYYY to skinny for me!  I contribute this to the African American mindset of beauty which hip-hop has made the American standard.  Curvy, bootylicious, Beyonce-esque bodies plus the BBW (big beautiful woman) movement for plus-sized women to be accepted has pushed us to far the other way in my opinion.  I applaud fashion for hiring plus-sized models, was SO EXCITED when Toccora was the first plus sized model to appear on the cover of Italian Vogue, thought it was revolutionary of Beyonce to hire plus-sized models to be dancers in her videos, and so much more that has changed for plus-sized women.  However - let us mention that Toccora is IN her healthy weight range by BMI standards, so is Beyonce and other classically curvy women.  It is possible to be curvy and healthy!

So let's say you are an anti-BMI'er...okay, I don't understand why, but for whatever reason you have developed a deep hatred for the thing...fine.  What about measurements of body fat? 

Body Fat Categories for Women
  • 10-12% - Essential Fat
  • 14-20% - Athletic Fat Levels
  • 21-24% - Fitness Fat Levels
  • 25-31% - Acceptable Fat Levels
  • >32% - Obese
Body Fat Categories for Men
  • 2-4% - Essential Fat
  • 6-13% - Athletic Fat Levels
  • 14-17% - Fitness Fat Levels
  • 18-25% - Acceptable Fat levels
  • >26% - Obese 
Most times using either measurement will get you to the same place for the regular fitness seeker, but perhaps you prefer using one over the other.  Body fat is another great tool to use to determine your health risks.  I can understand a person feeling overwhelmed by needing to lose a large amount of weight - which is why people tend to set small mini goals, and if you make a true lifestyle change you will be addicted to your new way of living.  And before you know it you will be beyond where you thought you would be.  There are times when doctors will access a patient and tell them to try to get to at least ______ lbs, which may be well above your recommended BMI, but why sell yourself short?  Usually, from my experience, doctors say that because they don't want to overwhelm a patient with a seemingly daunting unachievable weight loss goal and doing something is much better than nothing.  Is it fear of failure that causes a woman to say - I'm only trying to get down to around _____, anything beyond that is too skinny for me?  Is it because they have never been smaller than a certain size in their adult life so they cannot imagine themselves at less than that?  Or do people truly not think they look attractive at a recommended weight?  I myself never having been "plus" sized (although clearly I am overweight at a starting obese BMI) cannot really relate fully to this mindset, but I am wondering what is behind this *DON'T MAKE ME TOO THIN!!!*  mindset?  I always have too work hard to bite my tongue when having this conversation with women because it always seems as if they are just selling themselves short by refusing to believe they can achieve a certain weight or body fat percentage.  What are your thoughts?


  1. I think people object to the BMI being used as a means of determining obesity without taking lean muscle mass into consideration. Apparently some insurance companies have denied people coverage based on BMI. It's been widely reported that professional athletes like LeBron James are considered obese based on BMI. Do you think that calculating body fat should become a standard component of a physical? It seems to me that it is a more accurate determining factor.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I had to fiddle around to get the 2nd picture to not be at the top. It won't work the way it should for me. And I can't add more than two without them being at the top. (I had to add the pics and than typing in the middle to get the one photo lower down...make sense? LOL)
    I look forward to reading your blog! Gonna follow you!

  3. People really hate the BMI, because it puts Ahnold as overweight and other muscle men. It seems dead on for me, and I do moderate strength training.

  4. I used all of 3 health tools together... BMI, Body Fat %, and LB Weight Range. I think that gave me a better picture of how healthy I actually am. I think if you focus on just one alone you don't get a full picture...

    Did you see the study released last summer that showed that African American Women can be 1 or 2 points higher on the BMI (5 to 10 lbs) and be healthy due to our unique body makeup...

    I totally agree that you can be healthy & curvy!