Thursday, May 02, 2013
Whenever I went into the doctor, my doctor always told me I had to lose weight. Always. Without fail. Often he or she would ask about my lifestyle (what I ate, what I did for exercise), weigh me, compare my height and weight to the handy-dandy BMI chart, and then say, "You should lose weight!"
Of course, this is insanely frustrating (yes, I know I'm fat, I'm trying to fix that!), but I think this more shows a crucial disparity in thought: is it more important to look at the number on the scale or other measurements of health (blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc.)? Otherwise put: is it weight or health?
For the weight camp, they do have a point. Often times, if you are overweight or obese, you are not healthy. I wasn't. I hardly ever exercised, I ate unhealthy (though I'd hardly come forward with that unless you pressed me), and I generally felt unwell. When I donated blood, my blood pressure appeared high. I'm sure if I went to the doctor, I might have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or other health problems.
But weight isn't everything. There are people who are super thin that aren't eating right, who are pouring junky foods into their bodies and don't feel well. There are overweight people who exercise and eat right but can't get within their BMIs.
The problem with BMI and weight is that it is generalized. It can't possibly be applicable for each person, because each person is slightly different. What is overweight to one person is the ideal weight to another; what is underweight to one person is perfect for another.
I know why doctors rely on BMI: because it's easier and a general idea of what is "good" and what is "bad". A doctor doesn't live with me day to day (unless I decide to get married to one!) to be able to look at everything I do and judge if I am living a healthy lifestyle. He or she must rely on the patient to tell the truth about her lifestyle and what the instruments say.
I personally believe health is more important - and not just healthy eating to get down to a specific weight, a PERMANENT healthy lifestyle. When I am eating healthy, my body will respond and bring me to a healthy weight. But the end goal, the determiner of my health is not a number on the scale, bright red and glaring. It's how I FEEL. It's how I LIVE. It's what I eat, drink, and sleep. It's the entirety of my being.
So when I get discouraged with the scale (and it happens more times than I'd like to admit!), I need to remember: am I living a healthy lifestyle? Am I living better and feeling better? If the answer is YES, then it doesn't really matter what the scale says.