FauxPolitik

Monday, May 10, 2004

He ain't (that) heavy: We've all, by now, been inundated with the government, the media, and various doctors telling us how fat we all are. In fact, the thing is down to a science. If your "BMI" is over 25, then you're overweight. Push 30, and then you're downright obese.

Who are some obvious examples those who are overweight? Well, for instance, Brad Pitt, Michael Jordan and Mel Gibson, obviously. Obese? Well, look no further than George Clooney or Sammy Sosa. Now, there is a small footnote in the BMI calculations that the algebra really doesn't apply to weightlifters and the like who pack on dense, weighty muscle, but if the BMI doesn't apply to these "ideal" men, then why should it apply to the rest of us?
The solution to this crisis seems obvious: Americans should find a way to weigh less. A recent article by Harvard Medical School researchers was more specific: "Adults should try to maintain a body mass index between 18.5 and 21.9 to minimise their risk of disease" (for an average-height woman, this would mean maintaining a weight between seven and a half and nine stone).
Okay then. Here's Razor: 6'2", 205 lbs (this has been my weight for past two years at least) - drumroll please....26.3(!)

I lift weights twice a week, and do cardio another two times (half hour each time), more than many, but hardly in the elite class of professional athletes. Objectively, I think I could lose 10 pounds and have a the beginnings of a noticeable six pack. So let's subtract those 10 pounds: 25!! Okay, another 10 and I could start looking like Lance Armstrong (except all my weight wouldn't be in my thighs): 23.8. To get just in the range they want, I'd have to weigh 170 lbs, which gives me a read-out of 21.8. If I weighed 170 lbs, I'd look like a toothpick. Not only is that not what I want to look like, it's entirely unnatural. I watch what I eat to a degree (I cut out most sweets), but I otherwise adhere to no particular plan. Plus I work out as mentioned above fairly religiously. For me to lose 35 lbs, which is almost 20% of my body weight, I'd have to work out basically every day for an hour, and eat salads and chicken breasts exclusively.

Now, just to give you a final indicator of how ridiculous the BMI standard is, I had my body fat measured with the calipers (they are applied to your thigh, chest and stomach) about six months ago: 14%. According to the convential science, that's just beyond the "Athlete" category. Yet, I'm "overweight". Perhaps there's just a touch of "Chicken Little" in these reports.

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