Enough has been written about the shortcomings of using Body Mass Index (BMI) to gauge fitness levels and I'm not going to rehash that here. If you want to learn more about the history of BMI as well as some of the concerns about it, check out the BMI article on Wikipedia.
I do think about BMI occasionally however, particularly as I review my own weight loss goals. As a 6'0" man the BMI chart would tell me that I would still be overweight at 184 pounds and obese at 221 pounds. When you are at 296 pounds those numbers are extremely depressing. I've been as low as 177 as a young adult and spent a year or so between 185 and 190 and I have to tell you that at 177 (where BMI would have me at the upper end of normal) I felt too skinny and I felt just right at 187. Is that a realistic goal for me now almost 25 years later? I don't think so, for a variety of reasons.
But to even be thinking about 187 right now is folly, frankly I should be focused on a goal of 287. Then 277, etc. But then I think of that 187 goal and realize I would still be categorized as overweight and it is totally demotivating. Lately I've been thinking that I should be shooting for 220, not because it gets me out of the Obese BMI range but because it just feels so much more manageable. Maybe I can reassess when I get there. Wishful thinking, right?
I was reminded of all this today after reading a post by Zeusmeatball in which he mentioned he had lost a total of 219 pounds to date (how awesome is that!?) and showed this picture of MMA fighter Muhammed Lawal at 219 pounds. I checked his Wikipedia page and if it is to be believed he is 6'0" like me. That's right, but 2 more pounds on Mr. Lawal and BMI would have him categorized as obese. See a problem there? Why should anyone put any stock in this index when it is calculated in this fashion? It seems to me that the best measurement is a true body fat% measurement but of course that is not so easily calculated.
So I'm not going to let the BMI charts drive my goals and so I have set what I believe to be a realistic long term goal of 220 pounds, at which time I will reassess my fitness. My short term goal is 289 pounds, which seems silly but I haven't seen the 280s for awhile and it's time to be thinking about taking those baby steps again.
How do you feel about BMI?
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