Posted on 23rd June 2016

BMI: it doesn’t work for everyone

Lifestyle

Hey guys! In this post today I’m going to be talking about something very close to my heart.

 

Heart Scales BMI www.wingitwithjade.com

Learn to love your body – ditch the scales

Weight has been an issue for me for a long time now, since I can remember pretty much, and for the longest time I’ve been insecure about it. This only got worse when I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (see my posts here  and here for more on my experience with PCOS) monitoring my weight has become a part of my life, and regular weight checks at my nurse appointments have put me on edge and made me feel awful about myself. Recently I had a mini-revelation about BMI and it’s uselessness with my condition and I know that many others feel the same way!

 


What exactly is BMI?

BMI stands for Body Mass Index… but what does that even mean? Well by typing this question into google I was able to find the following answer from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention site:

“Body Mass Index (BMI) is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of height in meters. A high BMI can be an indicator of high body fatness. BMI can be used to screen for weight categories that may lead to health problems but it is not diagnostic of the body fatness or health of an individual”

… Well that’s interesting… This reference would suggest that BMI isn’t reliable when calculating the health of an individual. Perhaps I’m the only one, but to me that came as a surprise seeing as my doctors seem to rely on it and that there is actually a BMI calculator on the NHS site, which will proceed to tell you if you are 1. Underweight 2. Healthy weight 3. Overweight. A link for this calculator is here but hold on before you type in your data and cry like I did at the results, because I’m about to tell you why you shouldn’t bother.

Shoes Scales BMI www.wingitwithjade.com

No matter how much I work out, the scales stay the same

As I’ve said, over the past few years I’ve done a fair amount of research on BMI and it seems that EVERYONE is asking why? EVERYONE agrees that it isn’t a useful tool for monitoring the health of an individual. For example, this was said by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.

“BMI (body mass index), which is based on the height and weight of a person, is an inaccurate measure of body fat content and does not take into account muscle mass, bone density, overall body composition, and racial and sex differences”

So FINALLY someone with medical knowledge is backing up what everyone’s been thinking. At the end of the day, muscle weighs roughly 3 times more than fat, but BMI only takes into consideration your weight and height – which excludes important details such as the weight of your muscles, your bones, your natural body shape and other things which could effect your overall weight such as race and sex.

 


Now it’s getting personal…

So what’s my problem exactly? Why have I been so obsessed with BMI?

Well, as I mentioned at the beginning I was diagnosed with PCOS at 18 and at that time I was the smallest I’d ever been. I had a cyst on my left ovary the size of a golf ball (just imagine that in your head for a moment… A GOLF BALL?!) and as a result the pain had led to a complete loss of appetite. I fell out of love with food for the first, and hopefully the last, time of my life. My mum was really concerned about me but I couldn’t even force myself to eat… or sleep…. or just function as a normal human being. At this time I was roughly 8 stone 7lbs, the lightest I’ve ever been. When I was diagnosed I was weighed and my BMI was taken… Drum roll please…

BMI18 www.wingitwithjade.com

Yep. On that day the doctor told me that I was the PERFECT WEIGHT and that with PCOS it is important to remain on the lower end of the scale in order to improve chances of fertility in later life so maybe I should consider losing a little bit more… Well my mum wasn’t happy with that I’ll tell you that much. She said something along the lines of “Look at her – this isn’t healthy! Don’t encourage my daughter to starve herself! She hasn’t been able to eat due to the pain!!!” Yes, the doctor was only doing her job but if she opened her eyes and took one look at me it would only take an educated guess to realise that she shouldn’t have told me to lose even more weight!

That was the day it began. Ever since then I have had to go to the doctors and be weighed every 6 months in order to pick up the pill, which I need to stop the cysts from growing. My weight now fluctuates between 9 stone 7lbs – 10 stone 7lbs (usually depending on my lifestyle), but I do live a healthy lifestyle on the whole. I absolutely dread my appointments because what do I get told?

BMI21 www.wingitwithjade.com

And of course I get the TOTALLY offensive “Well… You don’t LOOK ten stone” immediately followed by advise to try to lose at least a stone, fantastic. It’s degrading, it’s emotionally traumatic, and what makes it worse: it’s completely pointless! I get myself so worked up over these appointments because even though I know it’s utter rubbish, a stranger still looks me in the eye and tells me to lose weight. It’s so wrong on so many levels GAH.

Feet Scales BMI www.wingitwithjade.com

The scales have become my enemy

 


My alternative to BMI

My weight stays put at roughly ten stone for the majority of the time, regardless of what my body is actually looking like, so I have turned to a different method to maintain my health and that is by using body measurements.

Measuring Tape BMI www.wingitwithjade.com

For me, this method is SO much more accurate than BMI when I’m trying to lose a bit of fat or what have you because I’ve always been very muscly, particularly in my legs (I danced a lot from the age of 3 so my legs are firm as rocks!) and so it comes as no surprise that like many of us… I do have some muscle?! When I lose weight I do it through exercise, meaning that my fat turns into muscle. So whilst I reduce in mass, I stay the same in weight. Using a tape measure is honestly a game changer for me.

 

IMG_0819

“You don’t LOOK ten stone!!” … Oh buzz off!

 

As an example: since coming home from University 3 weeks ago I have been eating healthier and tracking progress on the scales and it has come up at ten stone and seven pounds every single time. Out of curiosity I also measured my body and I have lost half an inch off my waist and half an inch off my hips!!!

That was sooooo amazing to see as I don’t usually see any progress being made at all! I honestly could have cried!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


My advice to you

If I could recommend you all to do just one thing it would be to listen to your body. Don’t punish yourself for gaining a little, adjust your goals, forgive yourself and keep motivated. We’re all only human at the end of the day – we’re not perfect, and we would be boring if we were. Learn to embrace your insecurities and try something new if what used to make you feel good no longer does. I’m so happy to have ditched the scales and tried something which works far, far better for me. Equally, if the scales do work for you – then go crazy! What I’m trying to say is: don’t let numbers rule your life. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t deserve to be happy. Life isn’t as easy as a scientific formula or a maths equation, so don’t treat yourself or your body like one. Look after yourself and be the best you you can be.

 


 

If you’re interested in reading more about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, check out my two-part post about it, here and here, where I go into much more detail about how it effects me both physically and psychologically.

*DISCLAIMER* Please remember that every experience is different and if you have any concerns after reading this, ask your GP. I am not a doctor and I know through my own mistakes to never self-diagnose.

 

I really hope you’ve learned something and maybe gained some self-confidence in reading this post! Do you have any opinions on BMI? Perhaps you have a medical background and have an explanation for it’s use? Please let me know what you think in the comments below!

Thank you so much for reading! Don’t forget to follow me on my other social media accounts, and feel free to comment below or message me for a chat – I’d love to talk to you.

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  • You look great, I really hate the whole BMI thing I have had a similar experience with it being in the overweight category etc it seems to not work for everyone! Very insightful post 🙂 xxx

    • WingitwithJade

      Thank you Charlotte! & I totally agree – it works for the majority but not for many many individuals. <3 xxx

  • This is an interesting post and I agree with your points – being healthy is about an awful lot more than just numbers!
    BMI is used a lot in medicine because it’s quick and easy to calculate. It takes no more resources than a tape measure and a set of scales and can be done almost instantly if you can do the maths (or have a computer / calculator handy). It’s also ‘easy’ to understand – simple numbers with ranges that can be explained to almost anyone. This makes it better than more complicated methods, but obviously comes with a lot of pitfalls too.

    It’s good for giving rough guides but should always used with a large dose of common sense. As you’ve pointed out, muscle is heavier than fat and that can mess up BMI – as can being especially tall or short. Also some people will naturally fall outside of what we’ve defined as ‘normal’, because that’s just how nature (and statistics) work.

    But you’re right. It doesn’t work for everyone and that’s where just being sensible plays a big part. A healthy lifestyle is much more important than just fitting yourself into the right part of a scale.
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

    • WingitwithJade

      Exaaactly! I just don’t think you can boil down someone’s health to simply height, weight and a little calculation! There are so many factors to be taken into consideration. Thanks so much for offering another view on it though, you’re totally right. At the end of the day, the doctors have to rely on SOME method and this is the quickest and easiest way – it’s just a shame about the people who fall outside of the “norm” as it makes them feel inadequate. <3 xxx

  • Sam

    Oh my god, you do not look the weight the scales are telling you but then again, I’m exactly the same as you in thinking BMI is a load of utter bulshit. This is such a great post and I applaud you for writing it 🙂 xxx

    Sam // What I Know Now

    • WingitwithJade

      Thanks so much Sam, and you have no idea how often I’m told that! It just goes to show that the weight on the scales truly is nothing more than a number, we all come in different shapes and sizes. As long as we are happy and healthy that’s all that should matter! Thank you so much 🙂 xxx

  • Honey, first of all you look great!!! And second I SO agree with you! These scales make us so insecure and I am so happy to see that the BMI doesn’t always have to be correct because I was having my doubts about that too. Great post!

    Love,
    http://dilarabosak.com

    • WingitwithJade

      Awww thank you so much! & exactly! I think it’s just best for everyone to use their common sense and to stick to what doesn’t get them down about themselves. <3 xxx

  • Samielorraine

    You are so beautiful! And as long as you feel healthy What’s wrong in that! I was diagnosed a few years ago with pcos and about 6 months ago another doctor told me I did not have pcos. So I was taking this god awful medicine for a year for why? So Confusing! I loved the article.

    • That’s so sweet of you thank you! That’s exactly right. I’ve decided to use more common sense when tracking my health now. I’ve heard a lot of this diagnosing and then un-diagnosing of PCOS… Scary!! Thank you so much for sharing lovely, I’m glad you enjoyed reading 🙂 xxx

  • The Sunday Mode

    First off, you look brilliant! When I was younger I was really fixated on my weight and typing my weight into a BMI calculator online was actually something that led to a huge emotional downward spiral for me, so I bloody hate those BMI calculators! Luckily now I know they’re not accurate but still….

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

    • Thank you so much lovely! It’s scary how many of us fall into the trap of religiously tracking the scales and BMI! Thank you for sharing Julia <3 xxx

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