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Let’s get real
We know that to be deemed healthy by our medical professionals, the BMI calculator is often used to work out if we are in the healthy weight range.
Using the standard BMI calculation, a healthy weight range means having a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. But the BMI calculation has its drawbacks, it can’t be used in it’s standard form for people under 18, and it doesn’t take into account the amount of lean muscle we carry, or how big our frame might be. It is merely a calculation dividing your weight in kg, by your height in metres squared. So as you can see it doesn’t take into account body composition or the width of your frame. Which, for some strapping rugby player types, may throw up some interesting results.
One size fits all?
The BMI calculator uses generalised population data to work out health risks for people in certain BMI ranges. Ranges are assigned as to what is classed as underweight, healthy, overweight and obese and then what the health issues are for the majority of people in those weight/BMI ranges.
Because of that it draws some general assumptions, a bit of a one size fits all perhaps, and whilst we shouldn’t ignore it, at Be Strong we don’t necessarily like the terminology used in these standard BMI tables and calculators and the associated risks. So we have come up with a revised version, to help us understand what we feel your BMI calculation really means.
We feel that whilst you might be in the overweight or even obese range, the way you live your life, how physically active you are, and how much weight you may have lost already, will be having a profound effect on your health, so our BMI category labels are perhaps a little more realistic, because they ask you to take advice before jumping to the conclusion that you are totally unhealthy.
Find out your BMI here and see which of our categories you are in!
Striving for perfection
The healthy weight range is a common goal for many, but it can be a challenge to get there. For some, once they get there, they might decide they don’t actually like what they look like.
My weight is now slap bang in the middle of the healthy weight range, at 21, and I am happy there. However, I am forever getting told that I am too thin now, or I must be underweight – but according to the charts I am not. It is all relative, and what a ‘healthy weight’ looks like on one person, will be different to what a healthy weight looks like on another, because we are all made differently.
Someone who is in the ‘overweight’ section, might be able to run marathons and climb mountains with ease, or perform press ups with perfect form, and plank for minutes on end. They might be able to carry heavy shopping for miles as they walk to and from town. To me, this is more important than being in that healthy weight range – to be physically able.
We often say at Be Strong that we are more interested in what our bodies can do, than what they look like. And whilst looks go a long way towards making us feel happy in ourselves, the feeling of being able to achieve something lasts longer than achieving a ‘thigh gap’ or a ‘six pack’, because once we have got the thigh gap or the six pack, there will undoubtedly be some other part of our body that we aren’t overly happy with, because that is human nature.
To achieve a physical feat, that builds self belief and self confidence transfers into every aspect of our lives. Completing a challenging workout, or training our body to the point where we can achieve something we never thought possible is far more satisfying than a reflection in the mirror. Achieving a physical goal gives us the confidence to believe that the body achieves what the mind believes, and that translates to home, work and play.
What does ‘healthy weight’ actually mean?
According to the generalised population data, people who live in the healthy weight range, are at less risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure and some cancers. These are all great reasons to aim for the healthy weight range, but being physically active also helps to reduce those risks too. In fact, Dr Paula Watson reminded us when she came to talk to us back in June 2019, that someone who is in the overweight category but is physically active, has a higher life expectancy and at less risk of disease than someone who is in the healthy weight range but does no physical activity.
As well the reduced disease risk already mentioned, being physically active also reduces the risk of dementia, joint and back pain and falls. It also helps you sleep better, and improves your mental health, so it’s important not to get too hung up on the numbers, but to embrace this whole new healthy lifestyle and live your life as the best version of you, that you can be.
All improvements are positive
We know it is tempting to get focused on a particular number on the scales or on your BMI hitting a certain category, but what we must also take comfort in, is that any improvement we make to our lifestyle is going to benefit our long term health.
We don’t have to lose massive amounts of weight to reap the benefits. These are the headlines…
5% bodyweight loss
This is the category where we see the most improvements. If we lose 5% of our body weight, we can:
- improve our sleep quality
- improve our blood pressure
- reduce triglycerides in the blood – a risk for heart disease
- increase our fertility
- improve our insulin sensitivity (i.e the body can process sugars better) reducing diabetes risk
Reducing diabetes risk, isn’t something to be sniffed at. Type 2 diabetes is a precursor to some really challenging and debilitating conditions, such as kidney disease, cataracts, glaucoma and other eye conditions, nerve damage and vascular problems potentially leading to amputation of the toes, feet or legs; stroke and heart attacks
So what actually is 5% of our body weight? You will be surprised, because it isn’t as much as you expect.
5% of an 11 stone person is 7.7 lbs
5% of a 12 stone person is 8.4 lbs
5% of a 15 stone person is 10 lbs
5% of an 18 stone person is 12.6 lbs
5% of a 20 stone person is 14 lbs
So for the majority of people losing between half a stone and a stone in weight, can have a profound effect on our health.
7.5% bodyweight loss
A 7.5% loss in body weight will start to see improvements in conditions such as sleep apnea, and symptoms of depression and low mood (and these are in addition to the benefits that we get at 5%)
7.5% of an 11 stone person is 11.55 lbs
7.5% of a 12 stone person is 12.6 lbs
7.5% of a 15 stone person is 15.75 lbs
7.5% of an 18 stone person is 18.9 lbs
7.5% of a 20 stone person is 21lbs
Again, these aren’t major weight losses, for some it could take around two months to achieve these losses. Lose just under a stone, to a stone and a half (depending on your start point) and you are significantly improving your health.
10% bodyweight loss
As well as all the effects in the 5% and 7.5% categories above, losing 10% body weight significantly reduces your risk of developing cancer. A 10% bodyweight loss also reduces the amount of inflammation in the body, which reduces risk for strokes and heart attacks even further.
10% of an 11 stone person is 15.4 lbs
10% of a 12 stone person is 16.8 lbs
10% of a 15 stone person is 20 lbs
10% of an 18 stone person is 25.2 lbs
10% of a 20 stone person is 28 lbs
Now these figures are getting to be a little more significant, just over a stone to 2 stones, depending on your start weight, but still very do-able (maybe 3 – 6 months work) and worth the effort for the massive health improvements that they will bring.
So celebrate when you get that email pinging into your inbox with your 5%, 7.5% or 10% body weight award, because you have just made some significant improvements to your health!
Check your awards section – Where are you up to? What is your next award? And how close are you?
If you are currently striving for a particular weight or to be in the ‘healthy weight’ range, take a look at how far you have actually come and focus on the significant improvements you will have made already to your health. This will keep you going towards your next goal.
Remember, this isn’t just about weight loss, it is about improving our lifestyles forever, getting to the point where we are happy with not just how our body looks but also what it is capable of achieving, being around for our family and friends for longer whilst in better health and most importantly able to tackle anything that life throws at us.