So what if my BMI is too high?

Something has been on my mind ever since a recent routine doctor’s appointment. Don’t worry I’m not ill: I just signed up to my new surgery and needed a new prescription and a chat with the nurse. A few days ago, I also read this post on Outside Online, which has inspired me to write my own.

After settling in and the usual smalltalk, my nurse explained that she would take the usual blood pressure, height and weight just so that they were on file for records and then we could discuss the reason I was there. I strapped on the blood pressure arm band and she unravelled her stethoscope and began the pump and subsequent countdown (kudos if you’re able to do a manual blood pressure test!). I can’t remember the exact reading but it was very much within the “normal” range, but she did note that my pulse felt slow. “It’ll be because you’re fit and healthy. Basically, your heart doesn’t work as hard to pump blood around your body,” she explained as I virtually patted myself on the back for being a part-time athlete in my spare time. 60 beats per minute, sat in a chair in a doctor’s room – great.

Next up, it was me vs the metre stick. No surprises, 177cm as I thought I would be. I haven’t grown and thankfully I haven’t shrunk either. And now on to the scales! I don’t actually own a set of scales because I don’t really feel the need for them. I can tell based on how tight or loose my clothes are and I don’t have any weight goals. I stepped on anticipating the worst. Let’s just say, I’m heavier than I’ve been for a while but I have had a winter fuelled by biscuits, chocolate and a distinct lack of exercise thanks to snow and a change in routine. However, my game has been raised the last month or two given I’ve taken up running again, relaunched my Audax career and still enjoy getting high on hills and mountains.

Here’s a picture of me enjoying some cheese just hours before a 300km Audax.

The nurse input the numbers, “now ideally, your BMI would be a little lower than that and if you were to have a goal, I’d say get it down to 77kg if you can. You need plenty of exercise and cut down on carbs.”

RIGHT OK.

Just moments previous, she had explained my pulse was slow because I’m fit and healthy and now all of a sudden I’m being read the Dummies Guide to Being Fit and Healthy. I need to exercise more but also not fuel my body with carbohydrates. There was no mention of risks to my health due to my weight, so I’m curious why she made, what I would consider, a bit of a deal out of it.

Dear Nurse,

My name is Grace and for as long as I’m able to run, hike, cycle and climb, I’ll be throwing your advice out of the window. My heavier-than-77kg body takes me to some absolutely brilliant places, it is my engine and it’s fuelled by carbs. In better weather on weekends, I exercise more than you probably sleep and every other time, you’ll find me dragging my sorry arse up hills multiple times a week or unleashing my inner Hazel Findlay at the climbing wall.

I’ve had a couple too many biscuits the last few months, I’ve made a pretty big change to my life with my job and where I live so my routine has been well out of whack and the weather has been A-Grade Horrific meaning I’ve barely ridden my bike in that time. I have however taken up running, I’m improving every week I’m at the climbing wall and my mental health is tip top at the moment. I still fit in all my clothes, albeit they’re a little snug! I’m still able to ride my bike for hundreds of kilometres at a time without collapsing from a heart attack, I have no history of cancer, diabetes or other health-related problems, so I’m just trying to decide what on earth to think.

Yours in good health and prosperity,
Grace

Now for anyone reading this, I’m also not a doctor but I look after myself, I know what nutrients I need to keep on kicking on this beautiful planet. Telling me to exercise and also not eat carbs is surely the wrong advice? I’ve quizzed my doctor friend who backed me up on these stats.

Thankfully, I don’t have self-esteem issues but I do feel sorry for people being told they need to shed some kilos to keep up with some Bullshit Metric Index (BMI) that should’ve been banished from the medical books years ago. If my weight was inhibiting my ability to exercise, or causing problems to my vital organs and mental health then I wouldn’t consider writing this post but if someone is going to dish out their advice without first asking about lifestyle and current habits (non-smoker, couple of units of gin a week…), then I think something needs to be said. For the record, I briefly mentioned that I ride bikes but maybe I should’ve ridden to the surgery via Land’s End just to drive that point home a little bit more.

About to haul my peach up this mega climb

With the news going crazy on the cusp of an obesity epidemic, I really feel this advice was totally misdirected and I want everyone to know that regardless of some number that a nurse/doctor puts in a machine, if you’re otherwise fit, healthy and happy then you crack on. Don’t worry about what you “should” be, enjoy the run, ride, swim, climb or otherwise and be the best version of you.

GraceQOM

7 Comments

  1. Brilliant blog. Not all there’s are skinny. In fact a good deal of the exceptional ones aren’t. As a recovered bulimic, I know that I carry a few extra pounds but I’d rather than than send myself spiralling back into eating disorders. Endurance sports are riddled with these types of problems so thanks for sharing this!!

    Naomi x

  2. The advice was to cut back on the carbs, and exercise more. Standard advice. You later write that she said to “not eat carbs”. That’s very different.

    Basically they gave you the once over. You admit to exercising less. The consequence was that you are above the ideal weight for your height. The exercise you have done (and continue to do) has given you a strong and healthy heart. The calories you are taking on are too many for the given exercise you do to keep you in the key BMI zone.

    The advice is to help you stay in that zone and is good advice. Ignore it and over time it may impact your heart.

    • The issue I have is that BMI is not an accurate way to measure someone’s health and this is widely accepted by most health professionals.

      Sure, I could lose some kilos if I needed to but I’m fit, I’m happy and I’m still good at long-distance cycling which is how I want to channel my energy.

  3. Haha! This is so damn Brilliant Grace! Many happy Miles and Altitude Meters with the BMI of your choice and all the best from Northern Germany!

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