Friday, November 4, 2011

I'm not too skinny. Your concept of normal is just too fat


A co-worker of mine told my wife I looked anorexic. I hear that I am "too skinny" quite often, actually. I simply exercise a good amount and avoid overeating. I really should put a chart up at my desk to show where I sit on the BMI chart. Like all overly simplistic models/predictors BMI isn't a perfect measure of weight/condition in all cases, but I've got a pretty light to average frame, but it's decent general guide. I sit at a BMI of 20-21 (6' tall, 155 lbs), depending on my exact weight, which falls squarely inside the "normal" weight BMI range of 18.5-25.


BMI is an estimate of body fat content for average people, but athletes aren't average people.  For their weight, they have more muscle and less  body fat than average, so the BMI tends to be an overestimate of body fat for athletes.

For me, although BMI comes in at 20-21, for example, other estimates of body fat that rely on measurements of neck, wrist, hip, and waist measurements along with height, weight and age, tend to put me around 12-15% body fat. Given my activity levels and diet, this is perfectly normal.  Many elite athletes come in with under 10% body fat, and are perfectly healthy.

What is boils down to is that I'm perfectly normal. It's not me who's too skinny. It's our concept of "normal" that has now become fat.

It's really no surprise that our concept of "normal" size/weight has increases, because statistics show that well over 60% of Americans are overweight or obese (BMI 25+).  In other words, the average American is overweight, and since our idea of normal is derived from the "average" of what we observe, our "sense" of what a normal person looks like reflects an overweight person, and even our concept of skinny has grown fatter.

It's a shame, and it's costing us. So, do yourself a favor. Do us all a favor. Stop eating too much crap. Start eating the right about of good quality nutritious food. Get off your butt more often and do more physically demanding things.

Or, you could just allow yourself to go to hell in a hand basket, accept that this will make it much more likely that your twilight years will be spent sick, uncomfortable, or in pain, or be cut short.

It's really your choice.

1 comment:

  1. I love this point of view. Iam so sick of being told Iam too skinny when all blood work is perfect, complete physical exam is perfect (to include extensive heart tests). People that are overweight feel the need to insult me all the time because, basically i don't eat garbage. All lean meats, veges, fruits and whole grains and water. I do have an occcasional brownie or piece of cake! I am 5'9 and 122 lbs. I have never felt better in my life, energy, happy etc. Yet everyone proceeds to comment that I need a big mac. How unrealistic is that? I just don't get it and I'm frustrated!

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