blog Apr 13, 2015

For many years, doctors and fitness professionals alike have used a combination of weight and BMI, Body Mass Index, as a guideline in determining whether a person was considered overweight or obese. I remember learning the calculation back in 1986 (has it been that long?) to share with my fitness clients in an effort to provide some guidelines for those who were interested in losing weight. As the industry has evolved more accurate forms of determining healthy weight is being used and I am happy to say that the BMI measurement is finally falling by the wayside.

Today, both the fitness and health and wellness industries, especially surrounding weight loss, are moving forward in leaps and bounds. Thankfully, more and more doctors and health professionals are steering people away from diets and towards balanced programs that will give them the results they need for a healthy life. With this shift comes a far more accurate way to chart progress and calculate whether or not a person is considered overweight and/or obese.

There are three measurements that should be taken in order to get a good picture of a person's external and internal health. Weight is still the most common and usually the first stat taken, but the scale alone does not give the complete picture. Measurements should always be taken when weighing in, as girth indicates either the need to make a change, or that change in body composition has occurred and that fat has been exchanged for muscle. Muscle takes up one third less space than fat, so by burning fat and building muscle the number of inches will decrease even if the scale did not show a drop in weight. The last stat in the trio, but possibly the most important, is calculating a person's body fat percentage. Determining the amount of body fat a person is carrying gives a much more accurate representation of internal health and where he/she falls with regards to being overweight or obese than BMI can.  Unfortunately, many of people still equate the two measurements as they simply don't understand how they differ and why that is important.

Let's start by revealing the what makes the BMI measurement inaccurate. Basically you go see the doctor, they weigh you, measure your height, plug those two numbers into a formula. The formula gives a range and the doctor then decides whether you are overweight or not.  The problem with this method is that the range is quite large and does not take into account body type or percentage of overall body fat.  For example, I had a young man in his early twenties come to me for an assessment recently. He looked healthy, workout out lifting weights regularly and appeared to be in good shape. His BMI showed to be acceptable, but his body fat percentage was well above the normal range, putting him at risk for weight-related diseases down the road.

A body fat percentage test simply measures what percent of the body is stored fat. Based on that number and whether it falls within the safe limits or not, now a baseline is set and steps can be made to work on decreasing that number. By aiming to achieve and maintain a healthy body fat percentage, you can be sure that your body will weigh in where it needs to be, you will look amazing, feel energetic and can rest assured that you have lowered your risk of weight-related diseases.

There are many scales and hand-held devices today available on the market that allow you to measure your body fat percentage at home. Many fitness facilities, trainers and health professionals dealing with weight loss are also capable of doing this for you and some even offer it free with an assessment. I invite you to make an appointment today to determine the level of your internal health.

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