Are weight and BMI good metrics when going on a health journey?

A few definitions to start.

*Weight – a body’s relative mass or the heaviness of a person or thing.        (the whole)

*BMI – Body Mass Index – the ratio of body weight to squared height.          (a convenient way to categorize data for research and averages, but          not intended as a medical assessment.)

*Metric – a way to measure progress

*Health Journey – the path to creating the healthier life that you have          dreamed about.

Ok, now that it out of the way, back to the question at hand… Are weight and BMI good metrics when going on a health journey? In my opinion, no! Are there some exceptions? Of course. For example, if you are in a sport that uses weight to place you in your competition group like wrestling or boxing.

But for the majority of people the answer is no. Why do I say this? A couple of reasons. The first is that weight and therefore BMI (because it is based on weight) is not a true indicator of health. There are many studies that show a higher BMI correlates to a number of health issues like heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. However, correlation means there is a connection between two or more things. It does not say which, if either, of the two are causing the other. Though there is a correlation between heart disease and having a higher BMI, that doesn’t mean that the BMI is causing the heart disease. Nor does it mean that everyone with a higher BMI will have heart disease, any more than it means that a person with an average BMI will be protected from heart disease.

The second reason is because weight tracking is unreliable. The scale used to track weight cannot tell you if you are losing muscle, fat or water weight. Even those that claim to are not accurate. This is important because as you are making changes that are body composition or weight based, your goal is to lose fat and inflammation but build muscle. This is why people often see that they are gaining weight when they begin to work out, but are feeling and looking in a way that is consistent with their goals. The weight gain comes from the muscle, because muscle is more dense than fat. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t making a difference in your health or that you are not heading in the direction of your goals.

There are other ways to more accurately track your progress during your journey. Using metrics that are skills based (ability to perform a certain exercise, endurance, speed, strength, etc.) or based on how you feel (energy levels, mental health, pain, etc.) are more reliable, and in my opinion, more fulfilling.

For further understanding about the flaws of weight/BMI you need to look no further than a google search of Dwayne Johnson’s BMI. In 2015, Men’s Health put out an article about how, at the time, he had a BMI of 34.3 which put him in the category of obese. Obviously, no one would look at Dwayne and say that he looks obese, but that’s because his BMI is calculated based on his weight and not the amount of fat versus muscle.

My point here is when you are picking metrics to track during your health journey, pick ones that are showing specific progress. Choosing the right metrics for you can make the difference between feeling successful or not on your health journey.