Overweight is a category people fall into through a chart at the doctor’s office. Doctors determine this by something called BMI. Body Mass Index.
Doctors, generally speaking, know nothing about this area; hence they use a chart on the wall. It’s not their fault. They’ve had to breeze through many areas of study before getting their PhD. You can’t learn everything about gynecology when you want to become a podiatrist!
When assessing your BMI, they’ll weigh you and combine that number with your age and height, soon you’re staring into some colored boxes on their wall. BMI has no way of recognizing how many of those pounds or kilograms are muscle or fat. That chart doesn’t measure how much water is in your system, or your bone density. The BMI assesses mass, but you’re not a box, and this chart has no way of understanding what actually makes up your mass. It is a helpful tool but not accurate by any means and certainly not a standard by active and weight lifting body types.
For those that are interested in having real numbers and creating real goals to change your body type, find out your Body Composition. You can invest in a caliper, or you can go to a sports doctor, or specialist that may be able to do it for you. Make a few calls. I know Equinox Gyms have an in-house consultation where they calculate this for you as a free service. You’ll just have to listen to them sell you on personal training for twenty minutes post calculation. I am in no way suggesting that you pay or don’t pay $185/monthly for their gym, but no one wallet looks the same and this service is free. Just don’t tell them I sent you.
Body Composition breaks down this number we call weight. There are a five different methods to get body composition, but I am only going to talk about the Caliper method. It is the easiest and most inexpensive. As with everything else, there is room for human error, so take the test three times and then solve for an average. This first step in this method of testing is using the caliper to pinch the subcutaneous fat of a person’s skin. There are several sites in the body to be pinched. Depending on who’s equation you wish to use, each requires a different combinations of sites, (for example some include the calf while some do not, yet all include pinching at the tricep fold.) These measurements then go into an equation resulting in a total value for body fat and total value for lean body mass. see calculator here
This lean body mass consumes calories in something called a Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the amount of calories you need to burn in a day to function. In order for your heart to beat, brain to think, and legs to stand, there must be some energy burned. You can consume energy in the form of food and these calories will be used as the energy needed to satisfy this basal metabolic rate, or your body can and will pull from the stored calories present in your fat cells. Fat cells are nothing but storage sites for energy and so they do not require you to burn anything. Fat cells have no shape, and they have no limit to how much they can expand. They are the untouched basement closets, if you will, if we all had basements filled with things don’t need. All the toxins that our very intelligently designed body goes about removing are transported around in fat cells.
Fat is important to have in the body, of course as everything has its purpose. It keeps us warm and helps us with digestion. In order for the body to break down fats, we release something called bile acids. These have a natural laxative effect on the colon. In addition to this, the tiniest bit of undigested fat can help grease the pathways of stool as it needs a little encouragement moving through the colon. Typically, it is a good goal to limit your body fat percentage and when and if one exceeds a parameter on another chart you will find yourself in a box called Obese. Just as with BMI, there are charts of averages with respect to body composition.
Obesity can also be determined by something called a waist to hip ratio. This is where the circumferences for each are related to one another and yet again charted for you as an indication of health. Obesity is a complex condition with many biological, behavioral, and social influences. Genetics play as an important role as the surrounding environment and dominating culture.
- Individual behaviors and environmental factors can contribute to excess caloric intake and inadequate amounts of physical activity. The current high rates of obesity have been attributed to eating out of the home, larger portion sizes, greater exposure to food advertising, limited access to physical activity opportunities.
- Certain medical conditions and prescription drugs can cause weight gain.
- Recent evidence suggests that certain stresses and inadequate sleep can cause weight gain.
- Race-ethnicity, gender, age, income, and other socio-demographic factors also can play a role in this complex health issue.
People who are obese, compared to those with a normal or healthy weight, are at increased risk for many serious diseases and health conditions, including the following:
- Heart disease and stroke
- High blood pressure
- High LDL cholesterol, low HDL cholesterol, or high levels of triglycerides
- Type 2 diabetes
- Coronary heart disease
- Gallbladder disease
- Osteoarthritis (a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint)
- Sleep apnea and breathing problems such as asthma
- Some cancers (endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder, and liver)
- Low quality of life
- Some cancers
- Mental illness such as clinical depression, anxiety, and other mental disordersBody pain and difficulty with physical functioning.