Being overweight is healthy?

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SimpleLife
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Being overweight is healthy?

Post by SimpleLife » Fri Apr 15, 2011 6:03 pm

I've been reading articles that discuss how being in the overweight category for your BMI (25-30) is not unhealthy.

Then why do we (especially women) want to fit a size 0?

I am short (5'2) but even at 140 lbs I looked really nice and could fit a size 8/10. I think that if I can get there and have some muscle tone from exercise that I will look really good even though according to all those charts I will still be in the overweight range.

What do you think about weight charts and formulas and being stick thin?
Starting Stats: April 15, 2011 ~ 35 yrs old ~ 5'2~ 165lbs ~ size 12/14

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DaveMc
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Post by DaveMc » Fri Apr 15, 2011 6:30 pm

This came up a little while ago in a different thread:

http://everydaysystems.com/bb/viewtopic ... ght=#96941

Here's what I wrote at the time, and my opinions haven't changed in the past two weeks:
Well, here's the thing: there can be a difference between "heavy" and "unhealthy". Not everyone who is over the BMI range labelled "normal" is necessarily an unhealthy, unfit specimen. This is just a natural result of using population-level averages to define arbitrary cutoff values: of course any given individual may have differences from the overall average!

I don't quite think BMI is bad science, in itself: it's just a number, after all. It's how it's used that can lead to trouble. The BMI charts, which are really just fancied-up height/weight tables, are supposed to offer a first-glance idea of whether you are *likely* to have a suite of health problems associated with being overweight. But ideally, if you've got the individual right there in front of you, you could take a *second* glance and see if the person really does have the health problems *correlated* with being in a certain range. One could check out their heart, measure their blood numbers for things like cholesterol, etc. -- you don't have to *guess*, when you've got a person right there. (But, alas, medicine as practiced currently does tend towards the easy, look-it-up-on-a-chart approach, and all too many doctors never go beyond that.) And as I say, it's quite possible for someone to be outside the chart range but not unhealthy in these other ways (and vice versa: BMI in the normal range is not an automatic guarantee of health!).

So yeah, I'd think that one shouldn't panic about being a bit outside the range that The Chart says you should be in, if you're otherwise fit and healthy. At the same time, if you've got a BMI in the 30s, you probably don't really need The Chart to tell you that you may have a problem with your weight.

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NoelFigart
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Post by NoelFigart » Fri Apr 15, 2011 6:55 pm

Before I tell this story, I am waaaayyyy the hell above a healthy weight. (If you're interested in numbers you can look at my Saturday charts on my check in thread).

That said:

I'm also 5'2". When I was a youngster I was encouraged to diet a lot, as I studied dance. When I couldn't get to a very slender weight, I quit dance and after a lot of this and that got into Karate, where I got MAJORLY into competitions.

I was continued to be encouraged to diet by my father, but I started losing competitions. My sensei finally pulled me aside and explained that my fighting weight was somewhere between 140 and 145 lbs. I could choose between a number on a scale that made me happy, or eat and exercise in a way that would make me win competitions. It was up to me.

So, from that, I generally say that my fightin' weight is 145. It's not a number from a chart that would excite anyone (It's slightly over the high end of "healthy") but it's what works for me.

I expect if I'd had a body mass analysis done at the time (and from some guesses made about the rate at which I put on muscle when I train heavy), I'd've found my body fat percentage somewhere around 24% at that weight. At the high end of completely healthy. I looked pretty hot in a bikini, I know that.
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SimpleLife
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Post by SimpleLife » Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:23 pm

At 140 I am definitely not bikini ready but I don't look terrible either.
I think that I probably had more muscle underneath than I gave myself credit for because I wasn't jiggly all over and my tummy didn't hang. But I think if I focus now and really stick with the exercise I can be 140 again and be bikini ready...even though I wouldn't wear a bikini either way :)
Starting Stats: April 15, 2011 ~ 35 yrs old ~ 5'2~ 165lbs ~ size 12/14

Goals
1. size 6/8
2. to wake up and go through my day without obsessing about food or weight

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gratefuldeb67
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Post by gratefuldeb67 » Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:51 pm

oh to only be 15 lbs away from my goal... you can do it! :)
ps.. i think those charts are traps and shouldn't be given so much importance.. if you feel you look and feel great and healthy, don't let some stupid chart tell you otherwise!
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r.jean
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Numbers

Post by r.jean » Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:04 pm

At 5 ft 2 in and 140 lbs, you would only be 4 lbs over a BMI that is in the average vs the overweight range. The BMI is a guide not a mandate. You should get to where you feel good and then call it good. Sustainability is the key. Go Girl!!

PS: When I was younger, the charts said that a 5 ft 6 in woman should not weigh over 143. I could never quite maintain that. Now I can weigh 154 and have a BMI of 24.9...in the average range. I think that I can get there!! Eventually that is.

So don't worry about the numbers, they may change.
The journey is the reward.
Maintenance is progress.

SimpleLife
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Post by SimpleLife » Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:08 pm

Do you know that I didn't even realize that I was 15 pounds away from 140. I have lost about 12 lbs the last 3 months. I guess I have been so focused on the eating and so discouraged with how I look right now that I didn't realize how close I am. Gosh I may as well aim for 135.

EDIT: OOPS! I just used a calculator. I am 25lbs away from 140lbs but that is still not so bad. At a pound per week (what I average for weight loss) it will take about 6 months.
Last edited by SimpleLife on Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
Starting Stats: April 15, 2011 ~ 35 yrs old ~ 5'2~ 165lbs ~ size 12/14

Goals
1. size 6/8
2. to wake up and go through my day without obsessing about food or weight

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Post by Kevin » Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:48 pm

If you are losing, comfortable with yourself, and okay with NoS, maybe don't worry about where you will be someday. You'll be where you will be. If you feel like you need to lose more when you get there, you'll have to eat a little less or exercise more.

Anyway, that's my philosophy at the moment.
SimpleLife wrote:Do you know that I didn't even realize that I was 15 pounds away from 140. I have lost about 12 lbs the last 3 months. I guess I have been so focused on the eating and so discouraged with how I look right now that I didn't realize how close I am. Gosh I may as well aim for 135.
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oolala53
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Post by oolala53 » Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:49 pm

I don't think it's something to freak out about to be in the overweight range. I'm still in it, but my blood work is always so good that it's hard to get to riled about the numbers for health sake. However, I know that I have binged my way to a much higher weight than I need to be in the past. I've been No S-ing with about 80% compliance for 15 months. REcently started to have sane weekends. Haven't exercised consistently, either. So I think when I'm actually doing all that, I find it hard to imagine that I will not slip into my normal range, though I may be at the high end.

I've said this before. Although the BMI is not accurate for the extremes--the very tall, short, or muscular-- it is not based just on esthetics. There are at least real correlations between high BMI and adverse health conditions. No one is saying there is a cause and effect. but the odds go up as weight does.

One of my driving forces is that I have traveled a lot and until recently rarely went anywhere where people were as fat as in America. I just don't believe we are genetically that different that we should be so fat. We eat a lot and don't move much. Okay, I still eat more than I need to on weekends and I don't move much. So I want to keep honing my weekends and get moving consistently. Then I'll see what I am supposed to weigh. Probably not stick thin. But thinner than now.
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DaveMc
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Post by DaveMc » Sat Apr 16, 2011 12:57 am

I tend to think that moderate eating habits and moderate exercise levels should go hand in hand with moderate expectations about what size you're going to end up being. You're (probably) not going to be stick-thin or model-thin, but then again, why would everyone want to be? Models are skinny for a living; if you're not, there's really no need to try to emulate them. (And in the more extreme cases, it's clearly not healthy.)

EDIT: Oh, and I just ran into one of those articles about the BMI 25-30 range not being so very deadly:

http://americandreamcoalition-org.adcbl ... flegal.pdf

Summary: they looked over a big data set and compared mortality of the various BMI ranges to the "normal" range of 18.5-25. Underweight (<18.5) and obese (>30) both showed an increase in mortality, but the 25-30 range didn't. In fact, if I'm reading it right it seemed to show a mild decrease in mortality.

Interesting quote from that paper:

"In our analysis, we did not find over-weight (BMI 25 to <30) to be associated with increased mortality in any of the 3 surveys ... In many studies, a plot of the relative risk of mortality against BMI follows a U-shaped curve, with the minimum mortality close to a BMI of 25; mortality increases both as BMI increases above 25 and as BMI decreases below 25, which may explain why risks in the overweight category are not much different from those in the normal weight category."

This matches with what I've seen in other papers, too: that U-shaped curve they're talking about is often fairly shallow, so that there's not much change in risk for quite a distance around 25. All the big increases in risk tend to happen as you get quite high or quite low (like below 18 or above 30). So I remain unconvinced that being in the 25-30 range is anything to panic over. By a complete coincidence, I am in that very range, myself. :)

SimpleLife
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Post by SimpleLife » Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:47 am

I'm going to shoot for 135. That will put right at a BMI of 25. I feel sure that I will be very healthy and attractive at this weight. But exercise is going to be a must!
Starting Stats: April 15, 2011 ~ 35 yrs old ~ 5'2~ 165lbs ~ size 12/14

Goals
1. size 6/8
2. to wake up and go through my day without obsessing about food or weight

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Post by wosnes » Sat Apr 16, 2011 2:19 am

I wouldn't shoot for any number -- weight or size. I'd focus on good habits and let the numbers fall where they may. That's the simplest thing to do.
"That which we persist in doing becomes easier for us to do. Not that the nature of the thing itself has changed but our power to do it is increased." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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r.jean
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interesting

Post by r.jean » Sat Apr 16, 2011 2:49 am

Thanks DaveMc for that interesting article
Last edited by r.jean on Sat Apr 16, 2011 12:48 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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NoSRocks
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Post by NoSRocks » Sat Apr 16, 2011 4:01 am

I agree, wosnes! I know from my own experience how much emphasis and ultimately - stress I have put myself under by focusing on the scales! I'd say just try to keep to the No S rules as closely as you can (we can't be perfect 100% of the time), get some form of movement in as consistently as you can, and see where you go from there.

I am very good at giving advice, wish I could follow some of it myself.... :lol:
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Post by Who Me? » Sat Apr 16, 2011 4:58 am

You know, I think there's a lot of ground between overweight and size zero.

Seeing those two as the primary options seems a bit back-and-white to me....

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Post by gratefuldeb67 » Sat Apr 16, 2011 4:40 pm

SimpleLife wrote:Do you know that I didn't even realize that I was 15 pounds away from 140. I have lost about 12 lbs the last 3 months. I guess I have been so focused on the eating and so discouraged with how I look right now that I didn't realize how close I am. Gosh I may as well aim for 135.

EDIT: OOPS! I just used a calculator. I am 25lbs away from 140lbs but that is still not so bad. At a pound per week (what I average for weight loss) it will take about 6 months.
omg my math skills stink!!!
haha sorry, but you will get there anyway!!!! :wink:
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jellybeans01
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Post by jellybeans01 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:12 am

I know that at 5'4'' I'm supposed to be 120, by some charts. I will tell you I'm not big boned or anything that that is really really to thin for me. I was that weight like my freshman year in High School. I am maintaining now at 130 and when I'm real good with no s diet I get to be 127,8,9. You really can't go by those charts sometimes becasue muscle mass plays a large role in things also.

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Post by marygrace » Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:13 pm

wosnes wrote:I wouldn't shoot for any number -- weight or size. I'd focus on good habits and let the numbers fall where they may. That's the simplest thing to do.
Agreed.

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Over43
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Post by Over43 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:45 am

Size 0 is sexy. Who gets the dates, a healthy overweight Rosy O'Donnell, or Jennifer Anniston? (I am being facecious...(sp))

In the middle ages "plump" was healthy, it meant disease free and prospering.

Now people can't get good paying jobs unless they are "uber" fit.

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Post by Graham » Wed Apr 20, 2011 8:35 am

Is a lower BMI more healthy? I got interested in "blue zone" information a while back (these are the places with unusually high numbers of centenarians), Okinawa is one of the blue zones. Okinawan centenarians have BMI's between 18 and 22. It's part of a bigger picture: see here: http://www.okicent.org/study.html

It may be a part of how to live a long and healthy life - worth bearing in mind.

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Post by oolala53 » Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:38 am

I think one element that may be overlooked is the social aspect of their lives. I imagine there is a sense of homogeneity and support from the family system. There isn't quite as much of an incentive to live a long life if you're not going to have anyone around to know you and interact with you in a loving way. I could be wrong, but I would bet that the younger generations stay and carry on the traditions.
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Post by Graham » Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:42 am

The good social network, spirituality and activity levels are all suggested factors contributing to Okinawan longevity. I imagine a fulfilling social context reduces the need for comfort eating, thus contributing to the low BMI.

Returning to the original question, is a higher BMI healthier? - perhaps that depends on who you are compared to. If the Okinawans are any guide then the answer is "No", but perhaps a direct comparison between Okinawans and the citizens of other countries is misleading.

I would think being lighter is an advantage in the long run, it means less strain on heart and joints. A lower BMI then would seem to be an advantage, and I don't think that's controversial.

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Post by oolala53 » Thu Apr 21, 2011 3:12 pm

I think the point was is being in the overweight category necessarily unhealthy. I thought the categories were determined by correlated health risks. They do go up in general for higher weights, but there are always exceptions.
Count plates, not calories. Three a day. 9 years & counting
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SBMI Jan/10-30.8
Jan/12-26.8
Mar/13-24.9 Stayed at +/- 8-lb. for three years Sept/17 22.8 (but more fluctuation)
Mar/18 22.2

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Post by Sienna » Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:07 pm

I think the point was is being in the overweight category necessarily unhealthy. I thought the categories were determined by correlated health risks. They do go up in general for higher weights, but there are always exceptions.
While the categories were sort of determined by correlated health risks, the real problem is that we aren't talking about a singular health risk, but a multitude of different health risks. Your risk of dying of certain things (for example diabetes and kidney disease) is increased if you are overweight. But your risk of dying of other things (for example pneumonia, tuberculosis and Alzheimer's disease) is decreased if you are overweight. (For reference see this journal article: http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/298/17/2028.short or this press release about the article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 01436.html )

My guess (and admittedly, this is a hypothesis, I haven't really researched it), is that when the "healthy", "overweight", and "underweight" categories were developed, it was a sort of optimization of the known risks. We are constantly learning more that might shift where this optimization ends up, but the BMI groupings don't appear to be changing, which seems suspicious to me.

Now the border cases are easy. I was *clearly* an unhealthy weight at 226 (BMI >37). I would *clearly* also be unhealthy at 100 pounds (BMI ~16). But its the middle ground that can be fuzzy. In the 160s (BMI 26-28 ), where I'm currently passing through, I'm theoretically lowering my risk from diseases like pneumonia and Alzheimer's (which I have a family history of), but increasing my risk from kidney disease and diabetes (which I have a family history of). So how important is it for me to get to that magic BMI of <25?

I'm honestly not sure. The great thing about NoS though is that it doesn't hugely matter. Unlike every other diet plan I've ever tried, I don't plan on stopping this plan whenever I attain some magic "goal" weight. Rather I plan on pretty much eating 3 meals a day and saving snacks and sweets for weekends for the rest of my life. I imagine here pretty soon my weight loss will plateau off and "settle" at a good healthy weight for me. If that's below 25, fantastic. If its still a bit above 25, oh well. Because to me, part of healthy is sustainable. And since I haven't done anything nutty, wherever I settle with this plan will certainly be sustainable.
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Post by r.jean » Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:03 am

Very well said Sienna!
The journey is the reward.
Maintenance is progress.

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NoelFigart
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Post by NoelFigart » Fri Apr 22, 2011 12:36 am

Well said, indeed, Sienna. I admire your good sense and risk evaluation.
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