Chances are, as you grew up, you were aimlessly plotted on a rectangle chart. This chart sort of defined “how healthy we were”. If we were too far way from the norm, we were considered overweight or underweight. That’s right, I’m talking about BMI. Well guess what? I’m calling BS on BMI. But it’s not just BMI I have a vendetta against, it’s the number of the scale too. Why should a singular number ever define who we are as very complex and fluid beings?

Did you know, BMI was established by a mathematician seeking correlation on data publicly available during the 19th century and only used data on white men? The mathematician even said that this data should not be an indicator of health. However, even with caution we adapted this model as an end-all-be-all.

More on BMI: It uses reverse logic to make assumptions about our health and size. Sure, someone who is overweight or obese will have a high BMI but just because you have a high BMI does not mean you are overweight or obese. This article gives the example that if you receive a present that is a bicycle, you can conclude that your present has wheels. But if your birthday present has wheels, you cannot conclude it’s a bicycle. It could be a car.

BMI doesn’t account for bone density or muscle mass. Therefore, many people who epitomize good health like athletes or hyper-fit wellness enthusiasts could still have a high BMI.

BMI plots a linear regression comparing height and weight. As mentioned, at its inception, data was only available for white men. So, how did we come to find data that include women? The table was widened a bit. And how did we come to find data that could include children? We literally drew the line in the same linear direction. If you have kids, you know what bogus this is. Kids grow out and up and up and out and at freakishly wild rates. Growth for kids is by no means linear and consistent.

So, maybe we can agree that BMI is beyond antiquated and we should just trash it once and for all. It may take more convincing for you to agree that body weight is almost as unreliable.

Too often I have clients who get caught up with a number on a scale. They feel that if they could “just lose those 5 pounds” or “just put on some muscle” that they would feel better, be happier, and more confident. Also often, I’ve seen clients reach that goal and still want to keep losing or gaining, never quite satisfied with their “number”. Evidence that it’s not actually the number that is defining their happiness or success.

Instead, let’s prioritize metrics on:

  • Sleep: We have heard that 6-8 is the magic number, but how is the quality of your sleep? What are your sleep rituals? Do you have habits that help you wind down and unplug?
  • Water intake: Beyond getting enough water, are we consuming primarily unsweetened beverages? Is our caffeine intake limited?
  • Fruit and vegetables: Eating the rainbow can help us prioritize getting enough vitamins and minerals along with fiber.
  • Movement: Are we getting intentional movement such as exercise, but also getting non-exercise daily movement?
  • Positive moods: Are we genuinely happy? And when we’re not, can we name the reason? Can we accept that it’s okay to grieve, mourn, and feel fear without feeling guilt or shame?
  • Relationships: Do we practice love and self-compassion? Do we have a positive social network? Can we control our emotions and food choices? Do we have food fear?
  • Energy: Are we able to get through the day without feeling the need to crash?
  • Blood tests: Working withy our PCP you can get a deeper look at the inner-workings of your body by examining glucose, lipids, liver function, kidney function, electrolyte levels, minerals, nutritional deficiencies, and many more!

There are plenty of people who might be your same height, age, weight, but be drastically unhealthy. Perhaps you are considered “overweight”, but you’re developing a positive relationship with all other aspects. So, don’t wait on weight to define who you are and what you’re capable of. You are so much more than a number.

*For guidance on improving your health and well-being, consider working with a nutrition coach.