I grew up as a competitive gymnast, for those that a familiar with the culture surround gymnastics, having distorted views of one’s weight is not uncommon. At the age of 21, I had hung up the grips and eventually have settled into a career as a clinical researcher. What I didn’t expect was the amount of weight gain since I was a competitive gymnast – how much? Lets put some numbers on it.
At age of 21, training at the University of Oklahoma, I was approximately 175 lbs (79.4 kgs) to 180 lbs (81.6 kg). Height is approximately 5 feet 9.5 inches.
Let’s gather some more metrics – perhaps not as useful, Body Mass Index (BMI).
What is BMI? According to National Institutes of Health “Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women.”
I think it’s important to mention BMI, despite the inherent flaws, because its a surrogate measurement that is used in medicine to determine if someone is overweight. What’s not discussed is that often times it is misused to say if someone is “overfat.”
BMI is a quite simple equation: [weight (kg) / height (cm) / height (cm)] x 10,000
For Me: [ (81.6 kg) / 176.53 (cm) / 176.53 (cm)] x 10,000 = 26.2
What does this mean? Well let’s take a look at the BMI categories:
BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal
25.0 – 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and Above Obese
Based on BMI, as a competitive gymnast I was still considered “overweight.” Now the general public has seemingly become familiar with the flaws of BMI when it comes to individuals that have a significant amount of muscle mass. The Center for Disease Control actually states it quite clearly “BMI does not distinguish between excess fat, muscle, or bone mass, nor does it provide any indication of the distribution of fat among individuals.“
Now since I’ve retired, I’ve gotten married and started a career as a clinical research. Despite my periodic work with patients, my job is primarily a desk job. What’s my BMI now?
(105.6 kg) / 176.53 (cm) / 176.53 (cm)] x 10,000 = 33.9
Well, there are two options without seeing a picture of me.
- I’ve gained approximately 50 lbs of muscle (not likely)
- I’ve put on a significant amount of body fat
It is quite clear that losing fat (not just weight) is of great importance. For me, this is where the conversation becomes interesting. What is the science of weight loss?
Scientist, Ruben Meerman, has a great TedTalk on this very concept.
Meerman’s take away points?
- Eat less
- Move More
- Keep Breathing
Quite simple, but if you’re like me you might ask:
Why do some people say that calories in calories out doesn’t work? Are hormones important? What if I have diabetes, cancer, or cardiovascular disease, thyroid disease, etc?
What about the people that say their diet works better?
What kind of movement should I do to lose weight? Why do people say exercise is not an efficient way of losing weight?
What about genetics?
GREAT QUESTIONS! I’m hoping to try and answer these questions in subsequent posts and while I’m on my journey of weight loss, wouldn’t be so bad if I can learn a few things along the way.