Posts Tagged BMI
Currently feeling overwhelmed with some family medical news, which I’m not able to discuss publicly yet. In a week or two. Instead, some links I’ve found interesting.
The Data Driven Life: An article from Time Magazine that’s about me. Or people very like me. It’s about the obsession with tracking, the usefulness and the pitfalls. A friend mentioned the meet-ups sponsored by QS to me some time back, and I’d been meaning to check one out right around when my kidney infection hit in January.
A history of BMI : Great links. Lovely research. Makes me happy. This says pretty much everything I’d want to say. BMI is not an accurate indicator of health, or actual overweight. Body measurement, skin calipers, and hydrostatic weighing are far more accurate. I’ve been tracking body measurements for a while, and will no doubt post that spreadsheet in the future.
I found this via Jim Hines’ blog, where he posts about BMI and weight issues using himself, and his BMI. He also links to the Illustrated BMI from a few years back, which I loved then and still love now. I have a few friends in the accompanying Flickr photo set.
Utility Belt! A friend recently gave me this as a gift, after learning I’d been lusting after it for a year. I got mine in black. If I am very clever, I will eventually manage to get a picture of me wearing it.
Adorable, isn’t it? I have to admit, the form factor was a big part of the attraction.
In some ways, the fitbit is a really fancy pedometer. It has an accelerometer in it, much like what you’d find in a wii controller. It is particularly suited for walking, running, hiking, jogging, and sitting still. (Yes, knowing how much time you spend sitting on your butt is actually useful). It can also track your sleep to some extent; I’ll talk about that in another post.
The form factor and the online interface were the real selling points for me. The fitbit is sleek and subtle. It’s built like a belt clip, but because of how small it is, I can wear it on my bra. Which is mostly where I wear it.
I already knew that I was pretty sedentary, but the fitbit visually presented that information in a way that motivated me to get off my butt and move around more, which means it’s doing its job as a fitness aid.
Here we have an overview of my typical workday after using the fitbit for several months. Each colored line indicates calorie burn, which indicates activity. You can see a few spikes during the night, which indicate times I moved around a lot or got out of bed. Then, you can see some pretty consistent blue activity (blue meaning low level) as I started my day. The big orange and red spikes indicate my lunch time walk, when I was more active and therefore burning more calories. It’s a very simple, and therefore very useful, visual.
Above the graph, you can also see how many calories I burned (logged by the fitbit itself ) and how many I ate (logged manually by me). Again, very useful. I don’t actually manually log every single thing I eat on the fitbit site. The interface is a little cumbersome for me, and it requires me to remember and enter whatever I ate the next time I’m near my computer. I use LoseIt on my iPhone throughout the day and then just enter the summary of my calories into fitbit’s interface in the evening.
There’s also an activity log that records the number of steps and miles and shows you the same info as above in pie chart form. Useful, but I like the graph from above better. (Click to enlarge if you’d like to see it more clearly).
If you participate in an activity the fitbit isn’t good at logging, like weight lifting, you can add that manually and the software will provide a “standard” calorie burn for that.
I’m not sure this graph even requires any explanation. It’s just lovely. You can see where I didn’t track food intake. You can see where I ate more than I burned. You can see where I burned more than I ate. You can see my average intake and my average burn. This is awesome information. Particularly when matched up against weight fluctuations.
That huge intake spike around March 12th was when we took J’s dad out to dinner at our favorite steakhouse; primerib and a baked potato seriously add up.
There are a bunch of other graphs, all of them with useful info. These are the ones I find most helpful. I love that I can see patterns over the last month, or over the last year (once I’ve been tracking that long). I love that I can see the correlation between my exercise, my consumption, and my weight.
I love my fitbit. The information is useful, the step count is pretty accurate, and the physical object itself is unobtrusive and convenient to wear.
My endocrinologist wants me to lose 50 pounds. Yep, 50.
This presents me with a challenge to figure out how to use my OCD to facilitate weight loss, without letting it get out of control.
Before anyone tells me that I don’t need to lose any weight and I look fine (and thank you if you were going to say that) it’s not about the way I look. It’s about hormones. Insulin, to be specific.
I have PCOS, which means that I’m more at risk than average for diabetes or other insulin related problems. Weight is a big factor there. (I’ll go into more about this in a future post because I have, of course, obsessively researched it).
I do have to say, I think I’d be unhealthy (and damned unattractive) if I lost that much. I also think I wouldn’t have breasts if I lost that much. This would make me sad, as I rather like having breasts.
The first challenge is figuring out how much I want to lose, instead of obsessing on 50. My endo pulled that number from a BMI chart. My current BMI is 28.2, which puts me solidly in the overweight category, nearing obese. However, I don’t buy into BMI.
In truth, although I weigh 20 pounds more, now, than I did when I got out of college 10 years ago, I’m smaller and stronger than I was then. The same clothing is looser on me now. Which means my muscle density has increased. Which is a Good Thing (TM). However, my BMI is higher.
Personally, I’m thinking 15 pounds, although that leaves my BMI in the overweight category, at 25.8. I’m picking that as my initial goal and ignoring that little obsessive voice that keeps saying, “He said 50. He did say 50, you know. How about 50?”
The next challenge is using my OCD just enough to be helpful but not so much that I’m miserable. As we already know, I’m good at tracking things. So, I’m tracking my intake. I know that if I follow that primrose path too far, I could end up in serious eating disorder territory. I have, luckily, never been in that territory, so for now I’m going to say my obsessive tracking will probably be fine. Thanks to my lovely iPhone, I’m using LoseIt to track my food intake. More later, no doubt, on that.
I’m using my FitBit to track my exercise (this is where my Christmas money went – thanks Mom & Dad!). More on this in another post, too.
I’m also walking more. Last weekend, J and I walked to a party 3 miles away instead of driving. There and back again gave us 6 miles, and two hours of conversation.
The most challenging thing, however, is not looking at the scale. Strange, to say I want to lose weight but then say I don’t want to look at the scale, no?
Thing is, for me, looking at the scale is self-sabotage. If I see that I’ve lost a pound or two, then I feel like I can relax, which means I end up gaining. If I see I’ve gained, or that I’m staying the same, I get discouraged and don’t want to continue. If, on the other hand, I don’t look, I keep eating and exercising according to plan. And the plan is a good one.
But every morning, I feel the absolute need to weigh myself. It’s not optional. I need to. I will stand there, frozen and unhappy, staring at the scale and not stepping on it, knowing I shouldn’t do it, but unable not to. This tends to slow the morning down considerably. Finally, today, I closed my eyes, stepped on the thing, and asked J to look – but not to tell me any numbers. Just to tell me if I was doing all right.
So far, so good.