Well let me clarify that a bit. My Body Mass Index (BMI) says I’m overweight based on my height and weight. It should be 25 or lower but it’s still a bit outside that range, by 0.5 to be exact. I have had a goal to weigh 160lbs for about 4 years. 160lbs is at about the 75% of the healthy range of BMI or 23.0, If I want to be really healthy I need to weigh 150lbs!
Let me back up a bit. In 2010 I weighed 206 lbs and I felt really bad. I had just turned 36 and I wasn’t happy with how I looked and felt. Becky and I hit nutritional ‘rock bottom’ on a trip to Las Vegas. The kinds of food we were eating, the portions and the size of a lot of the people around us was overwhelming. We decided it was time for a change. Over the course of the next 6-8 months we each lost about 40lbs and we did that using this crazy technique called Moderation 🙂 We made smart food choices and put an emphasis on regular exercise. I became a pretty avid runner.
The least I ever weighed was 162lbs and that was very fleeting, I settled around 170 for the next couple of years. During the course of a pretty stressful year I gained back some of the weight. I was 186lbs in September 2013. I had gained back half of the weight I originally lost and again I felt really bad about myself and vowed to make a change. This time I used my BMI as my gauge of success, and success would be 160lbs.
I go to the gym 5 times a week before work. I really enjoy my routine, I feel so awake and ready to go when I get to work. Physically I can easily say I’m in the best shape of my life, I weight 172lbs.
Still too heavy, my BMI says I gotta lose more weight. I actually started thinking that if I want to lose those pesky 12lbs I will have to stop lifting weights and up my cardio… also it might be time to try a cleanse or a more formal diet. OKay now I can feel I’m moving into a bit more obsessive type thinking. One moment I’m feeling so good physically and feeling good with how I look in a t shirt and the next I’m considering undoing the very activities that helped me so I can reach a goal that came from my BMI.
On e day I was clicking around Netflix and found a documentary called ‘America The Beautiful 2‘. I had seen the cover a million times but never checked it out. Well it’s a documentary about BMI and how BMI is BS! The argument being that BMI does not measure health. In fact it was never meant to be a measure of health. It was developed to measure the average sizes of large populations. Somewhere along the way BMI has become the defacto measure of how healthy a person it. Check out how many BMI calculators there are on the iTunes App Store.
In 1999 the BMI for what is considered healthy was lowered from 28 to 25. This was in response to what “experts” felt was an impending obesity crisis. Coincidentally a couple of these experts also sat on the Board of Directors for Weight Watchers… no conflict of interest there.
BMI is not an indication of health, this was my mistake all along. Had I continued focusing on BMI as the true guide for my health I could very likely have developed an eating disorder or some other harmful habits to help me hit that goal. The number is so arbitrary and it’s insidious because it is presented as a true measure of health.
I’m so grateful that I found this Documentary when I did, I think Becky was grateful too, she could tell I was slipping into more obsessive behavior, moderation wasn’t enough, now I needed something more immediate. I’m not sure exactly what percentage of my time was spent thinking about my weight but it was a lot. I wasn’t focused on my health anymore, just a number. It’s kind of ironic that the weight lifted off of my shoulders by not caring about BMI is so much more then the 12lbs my BMI made me feel I needed to lose to be “Healthy”.
Would I like to look like a UFC fighter with 3% body fat? Yes for that one week a year I’m in Mexico with no shirt on I think 3% body fat would be amazing. However for me that lifestyle needed to maintain that is not realistic. I want to feel good in my own skin and above all I want to have a long and HEALTHY life. That’s a bit different that leading a thin life.
I like the 80/20 rule. 80% good healthy lifestyle choices and 20% Cheezies 😉
Okay I promise this is the last post inspired by a TV commercial… okay I can’t truly commit to that 🙂
Travel Alberta has a couple of great commercials with the tag line “Remember to Breathe”. The imagery coupled with the amazing song “Here we go” by Wil actually relaxes me every time I see it. I noticed that my breathing actually slows down to match the emotional rhythm of the ad.
Until about a year ago I pretty much never remembered to breathe, don’t get me wrong I was breathing but I wasn’t consciously aware of my breathing. The moment I began to be more mindful of my breathing everything changed. Suddenly I had a conscious way to check in on my emotional state.
Think about how you breathe when you’re angry or when you’re happy or what about when you’re sad or if you are feeling tenderness towards another person. Each of those emotions has a very distinct breathing pattern. If you can learn to recognize the patterns, then you can also learn to shift in and out of different emotions just by changing how you breathe.
Everyone knows that taking a deep breath will help calm you down if you are upset. What do you think would happen if you took five deep breaths? Try it right now, I’ll Wait.
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I have a good friend named Laura who has taught me a lot about mindfulness, specifically about how being mindful leads to both peace and feeling present. When I was a kid the word present meant one thing… GIFTS! Now as an adult I still link the two words but in a different way. Now I see the ability to be present as a beautiful gift.
I’ve learned so much in the last couple of years about how awareness of our breathing can impact and connect our spiritual, emotional and physical worlds. I’m sure anyone who has tried Meditation (which I will write about in more detail) or Yoga Nidra can attest to the power of breathing and the feeling of being present.
Remember to Breathe
Before I start I have a Confession, I love the commercial on CBC for the Paralympics and it is the inspiration for this post. I should also confess that this won’t be my only post based on the tagline of a commercial (I’m lovin it… just kidding)
I’ve been watching the Paralympics in Sochi and I’m so inspired and amazed by the athletes. It occurs to me that I relate more to the athletes in the Paralympics more than I do to the athlete in the Olympics. I always assume that the athletes in the Olympics are “gifted” and possess mysterious physical attributes that are not available to me. I guess I feel that if an athlete with a physical disability can be successful that maybe I can to.
That got me thinking about why? I’m not physically disabled, but I do feel like there is something missing and that’s where I relate to the Paralympian. I feel like I don’t have all the tools that everyone else has and that like the Paralympian I will have to “Overcome” to be successful. Well at least that’s how I used to feel.
I realize that the elements required for a Paralympian to be successful are the same as it is for any high level athlete. They need the insight to learn technique (language), they need physical practice to perfect the technique (body) and most importantly they need the strength to be immersed in failure. The vulnerability an athlete needs to be willing to fail is key to their success (emotion).
This is where I get stuck. Nothing scares me more than vulnerability. The idea of failing at anything, especially failing in public is enough to prevent me from trying at all. For years I joked by saying that instead of no pain no gain I was just going to stick with no pain. This was more telling than I realized. I can’t say that I have overcome my fear, far from it in fact, but I do acknowledge my fear and I’m more comfortable to step into it and be willing to fail.
As I’m watching these athletes I’m not focused on their disability, I’m seeing more and more the courage they display by being willing to fail so that they can succeed.
This is the lesson for me. It’s not what’s missing that’s important, it’s what’s there.