South Beach Diet - Body Mass Index

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12-07-2004, 06:21 PM
I'm curious what the rest of you think and have been told about BMI. I set my final weight loss goal according to what is the exact middle of my healthy BMI range (150 pounds).

Yet it seems when I talk to people about my goal, they look at me and act shocked and try to talk me out of it. I'm tall (5' 8.5"), so I tend to carry excess weight well, but still, it's discouraging when people act like I won't be able to get to my goal or they act like it's an unreasonable goal. I would give their opinions more credence if I had just chosen that number out of the blue, but I didn't. I don't want to be just "acceptably overweight"; I want to be "healthy."

Anyway, just curious what you folks' thoughts are on BMI. I'm going to talk to our Health/Nutrition faculty member about what is said in nutrition circles about it soon to get a professional view on it...

12-07-2004, 06:50 PM
Personally, I believe you've set an admirable, attainable and very smart goal. I want to get my BMI down to a healthy percentage as well. I think the overwhelming obesity problem in the US has somewhat warped society's perception of what's "normal" or healthy. (I can say that, can't I? I'm obese too. :lol: ) But I also think you're doing well to discuss it with the nutrition faculty member, or preferably, a doctor. That way when they agree with you, which I'd bet they will, you can go into conversations armed with that knowledge. :)

BTW, nice to see another Illinois gal!

12-07-2004, 08:04 PM
I met with a nutrionist last Friday. She measured me at 5'7 and a quarter inches. I have a large bone structure: even if I were to lose a lot of weight, I'd never be one of the petite skinny beauties. Its just not going to happen.
According to the BMI Chart, I should weigh NO MORE THAN 155 pounds. The nutrionist looked at me and laughed, seriously. I thought that it seemed really off, because even prior to my endocrine disorder hitting full force I never weighed less than 180 as an adult. And that was being on the varsity volleyball team and walking almost everywhere because I didn't have a driver's license/car.
The nutrionist said that I would look emaciated if I weighed 155 pounds. She felt an ultimate goal for me would, in fact, be 180. That puts me in the borderline obese (right on the line of overweight versus obese).
She then said that the BMI chart does NOT take into account muscle, bone structure, etc.
I lift weights, and I swim at least 3/4 of a mile daily. I don't lose weight quickly (or frequently AT ALL). I might lose 3 pounds in 6 months. Its taken me 3 years (since I was diagnosed in late 2001) to stop gaining weight, and lose 70 pounds. That is with DAILY exercise of 1 hour or more, 5-6 days per week, and carefully watching my caloric intake as well as the constant attention of a gastroenterologist, endocrinologist, and now a nutrionist, plus the people I work with at the gym. And this is just me.
My best friend is probably 5'4" tall. HER upper weight limit is 130. She hasn't weighed less than that in most of her adult life, and when she did it was because she was a dance minor in college. Yet, you'd NEVER call her obese. She & her husband do yoga and tai-chi, plus walk long distances 2-3 times per week (and I mean LONG distances: 10 miles or more).
I think the BMI chart is a load of cow manure, personally. Its a way for people to say that we have yet another crisis. There are so many things it doesn't take into account. I wouldn't use it to set a goal weight. And I don't use it to tell me whether or not I'm healthy. A government chart can't do that, because that chart doesn't know what I do daily.

Goddess Jessica
12-07-2004, 09:33 PM
I disagree. The BMI is a great chart for the population. But that's all it is - a guideline for the normal sedentary american population. And you have to treat it like that.

I think it's wiser to look at several guidelines and triangulate! In Mouse's case, I'd look at her BMI, her blood profile, and her body fat ratio and if I was sassy, her blood pressure. That would give me a better picture of health than one guideline.

In my case, I have the blood profile and blood pressure of a teenager. However, that doesn't mean that I'm the picture of health. My BMI is in the morbidly (lovely description) obese range and my body fat ratio is terrible. I'm not going to wait for the blood profile or blood pressure to catch up to decide that maybe the BMI is right!

Hope that helps!

12-07-2004, 09:34 PM
The BMI doesn't take into account those with large bone structures or lots of muscle. I get some exercise daily, either aerobics or aquaerobics class, one hour walk or swim, or gym workout. Sometimes I do two of these in a day so have good muscle tone, also I have very strong bone density (as I found out when they tried to remove my wisdom teeth). My BMI places me in the obese category (just) but my percentage body fat is in the normal category. When I calculate my 'ideal' weight I would have to lose all the fat I have plus some muscle tone to comply. I personally find it easier to monitor my weight by having a goal weight and using the scales daily but ultimately my goal size will be determined by body fat and clothes size not BMI.

12-07-2004, 10:46 PM
Thank you, ladies, for your honest opinions, and a great big HI to Talisman from Illinois! Good to spot someone here from my neck of the woods. :)

I really appreciate your input. In trying to set healthy goals for myself, I feel skeptical of the opinions of friends or family that aren't in the same boat I am or that don't have as much weight to lose or have never had to lose any... Hearing some stick-figured person at work tell me that 180 is a respectable weight for me somehow smacks of lowered expectations from them. I don't want to trust it from them. I know that the folks here understand the hard work that weight loss is, and I'm grateful that there are people here to help me see both sides of this.

Above all, I want to get healthy, and I have no desire to starve myself to get there. It's just hard to know exactly what "healthy" means these days as the number of healthy Americans is steadily in decline... There aren't many role models to go off of. It helps to read what the guidelines are that you have set for yourselves. I have a better idea of what questions I need to ask and what I need to answer for myself.

I'm interested in hearing any other views out there. Thanks again!


12-07-2004, 10:47 PM
I don't think any of the tests you mention would show you anything about me, particularly the blood profile. Part of the endocrine disorder is producing too much insulin (because my body doesn't listen to itself and doesn't know what to do), and too little of other hormones. I also produce too much testosterone, and don't digest food normally 2/3'd of the time because the digestive hormones don't work very well anymore.
My blood pressure may or may not show you something: I have a higher than average blood pressure at the doctor's office in many cases (except my endocrinologist, for some reason). I have to monitor my blood pressure at home, too, because one of the medications that I take for the endocrine disorder is a diuretic/blood pressure medication typically. When on that, my blood pressure has gone as low as 90/50, on a regular basis.
The BMI scale doesn't look at ANYTHING but your "height" and your "weight". It doesn't take into consideration that my whole family is very tall and large boned. It doesn't take into consideration my endocrine system disorder, and it doesn't look at the fact that I lift weights and exercise daily.

Goddess Jessica
12-08-2004, 12:13 AM
Mouse - I think you missed my point here. Looking at one guideline is not good way at evaluating any picture of health. Being in an exception situation, you look at more than what I pointed to for evaluation - you have gastroenterologist, endocrinologist, and a nutrionist.

Dismissing the BMI chart is done easily enough for the exceptional few and I don't advocate using it alone, however, there is value for the population. BMI is not a "pulled out of the sky" table. It is based on mortality tables, showing a distinct link between being overweight and death. Mortality rates are based on the general population, not individuals. Furthermore, BMI has been linked with morbidity - the rate of disease - and shows strong correlation. Although it certainly doesn't look like it applies to you, you are an individual and it does apply to the population.

For you, it may only look at height and weight, but the evidence is overwhelming that BMI is an indicator for death and disease in a population, which means it's going to apply to a bunch of people.

12-08-2004, 02:12 AM
I have just made it out of the overweight according to the BMI scale, and the people I work with are still saying that I need to stop "dieting" saying that I am fine. I weighed 157 this AM and would like to lose a considerable amount more. The BMI chart though is a funny thing and can't be used alone, I agree with Jessica there. I carry alot of weight well and wear a misses size 8 at 157 pounds, so really it doesn't say much for the fact I have a BMI of 24.8- You have to look at the big picture is what I think most people here are saying and the fact you are going to see someone about the whole big picture is your best bet. You really may find that you might not have to lose "as much" depending on what the nutritionist say/sees.

12-08-2004, 12:17 PM
Ok, I just talked to my health faculty member friend, and here's what she told me.

The BMI is helpful for very general goal-setting.

She gave me the website of the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at our local university where they will do a fitness assessment for a nominal fee of $40 (I get a discount b/c I work at the community college! Woo hoo!). That is just the basic package, which includes underwater weighing, skinfold caliper, bioelectric impedence analysis, and a thing called the bod pod (?) all to determine body composition. Here's the website for what they offer if anyone out there is looking for something similar:

As a general guideline, she said she recommends no more than 20% body fat.

12-08-2004, 01:06 PM
Wow, how interesting. When I started on Jenny Craig 5 months ago, my BMI showed me being in the overweight category. I'm 5'4" and, at that time, I weighed 153 pounds. I agree that I was overweight. But otherwise, my general health was fine (cholesterol levels, etc.)

The lowest healthy level BMI level for me was 111 pounds and so I set that as my goal, thinking it would give me a "cushion" to regain some weight when I was done. (I've now learned better. I don't intend to gain any back if I can help it.) I'm at 117 lbs as of my last official weigh-in (actually 116 on the scale this morning) and I'm thinking that I'm about there. I think 111 would be too thin for me. But I like the way I look now and I don't think I'd want to be any heavier than I am now. I'm very petite and small boned and so I guess for me the BMI charts are right on.

sweet tooth
12-08-2004, 05:39 PM
I agree with most of you...BMI and other scales should be used as a guide only since our bodies are all different. Placing everyone in the same exact categories on a scale is like placing a square peg in a round hole.

I did the same as lawshark. When I started to lose weight a few years ago, I aimed for a goal weight at which I was comfortable at age 20. I got within about 5 pounds and discovered that I was not only feeling lethargic, but looked horrible, too. When I started SBD, I set a more reasonable goal. I am comfortable at this weight so will try to maintain this standard. Although it isn't quite down to the middle of the BMI scale, it is a healthy weight for me.

When you are getting close to the goal that you set, start to listen to your body, not the scale.

12-08-2004, 10:32 PM
I believe that the BMI can be useful as a guideline, although as many people have pointed out one must consider factors such as bone structure and age. For myself, I have been overweight for all my adult life and have used the BMI to set a goal for my weightloss. I've never weighed this little since high school, so I'm not really sure what a healthy weight for my body is. Like some of you, I expect to adjust my expectations based on how I feel when I get closer to my "goal".

12-09-2004, 02:41 AM
The hip to waist ratio is another measure of body fat. This could be useful when you are close to your goal weight to figure out what weight you should be if you were 20% fat. If your hip-to-waist ratio, BMI, and bodyfat calipher are all coming up with the same figure, then any one of these would be a good measure.

12-09-2004, 07:54 AM
If I may add my $.02 worth here... there are always going to be exceptions to the rules, as Jessica pointed out.

Mouse, in your particular situation, the rules obviously do not apply, but that doesn't necessarily make the whole thing a load of cow manure as you so eloquently put it.

As a nation, we've been getting fatter and fatter by the decade. I think the BMI index is a good starting point. But every individual has to take responsibility to find out what is best for herself, taking into account height, bone structure and density, and general body make-up. And I think that if we really listen to our bodies, they will tell us what is best.


12-15-2004, 06:23 PM
The BMI index says that the vast majority of Americans are overweight unless you look like Brittany Spears... or that is the impression I get. If that's true, then there is something seriously wrong with the country as a whole. I'm not sure it is true. I do know that the American population as a whole has a skewed view of what looks and is healthy and what looks and is not healthy.
The rules don't seem to apply to me a whole lot, which is very, very tiring at times.
As for the BMI applying to a whole lot of people: so do a whole bunch of other things that many people consider a load of horse hockey. Like, women are good drivers and men aren't (insurance rates are based on that).
There was something else I wanted to say, but I can't remember what it was.... :grump: Must not have been important. :(