Tuesday, February 7, 2012

BMI............screw you Twiggy.....

For any of you who have ever worked their ass off in the gym, or wanted to get in shape, or back in shape (as the case may be) you've probably heard the term BMI.

BMI = Body Mass Index

The BMI is a guideline for computing a person's body fat based on height and weight.

Note it's a rough guideline, but STILL in today's technology loving society it's widely used and accepted.

A little history. It's also known as the Quetelet index (No, I didn't know that either. Thank you Wikipedia.) It was developed in the 1800's by a Belgian mathematician. 

Body Mass Index is literally defined as a person's body weight divided by the square of his or her height.

Keep in mind the time when it was developed was in the 1800's....good ole' Wikipedia says between 1830-1850.

So I looked around to see how big the average American Male was during this time...keeping in mind the guy who developed this was European...Belgian to be exact, and they are 'on average' shorter and lighter than their average American counterpart.

Most sources were varied. Actual data is scarce, mainly because not many dating profiles were around in the 1800's (if they were, you could simply subtract 2" for all male heights listed....it's called "internet inches"...I won't go into the other aspects of this sliding scale. Be creative.)

One of the few times people were actually measured for height was when they became soldiers, so let's look at that.

In 1850 the average height of a Civil War era soldier was @ 5'7" with an approximate average weight of 146lbs.

As of 2005 that number had increased to a tick over 5'9" and the weight had jumped to 191lbs.

Now there are a ton of reasons why the numbers jump. I could get could all eggheadian (yes it's a word...I typed it didn't I?) on you..but the simplest answer is simple. FOOD. More FOOD and "better" FOOD.

I'm sure cavemen were, on the average, even smaller and lighter. Reason being? You had to go FIND your food and many times KILL your food. All that running makes the average club toting rock head more likely to look like a marathon runner or cyclist versus a linebacker or a pro wrestler. (save the steroid talk for another day).

So why in God's name are many "respectable" organizations still using this f'n "Index" to define modern people?

I'm 6'3" and 250lbs.  Now granted I KNOW I need to lose some weight. Don't get me wrong..

But this shit is nothing new. Hell when I was in the Army, I had to go take a body fat test after I enlisted!!! Christ I weighed 230lbs and was probably in the best shape of my life. I was an athlete, and was working out damn near every day. 

Now how the Army tested for body fat, at least back then no clue what they do now, was they measured the circumference (The distance around...seriously if you don't know what that word means...well...I've give you credit for getting this far. Must take a long time sounding out each word) of your stomach (at the belly button) when you are relaxed and after a long exhale and then they measure the circumference of your neck. They subtract the neck measurement (in inches duh...) from the measurement from your belly...or lack thereof.

Then they had a chart they looked it up on. If remember correctly by "number" was 15...that is 15% body fat.  Even now the accuracy of this test, and all the other tests available now, is hotly debated.  

But back to the BMI....

I recently joined the YMCA near me. It's a good deal for less than $90 a month for a family membership. Considering it's got a heated indoor pool, a huge weight / workout room, locker rooms, gym , all kinds of programs etc etc etc.

So they have this "personal trainer" thing you fill out to help you with your workouts and your "goals". Of course you input your age, height and weight.

When I put mine in...it immediately cautions me that I need to clear my participation in any workout program with my physician...wait for it...because I'm OBESE.


Obese is not being able to see your belt buckle when your shirt is tucked in and your breath. Bullshit.

That's my rant.

By the way if you search there are several online calculators that have you take measurements of your waist, your hips, your forearm and wrist and input gender, age and weight and it tells you where you are at body fat wise.  This to me is more accurate...common sense tells you if a guy is 5'9" and weight 220lbs, and his neck is 19" and his forearms are 15" he's probably not exactly a fat boy.

Okay back to your regularly scheduled programming.

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