Richard Herring: BMI is stupid and dieting is a piece of cake
Friday 4 Apr 2014
Before Christmas, I went to the doctor for the free check-up you get for having lived for more than 40 years (take that, young people, you may have fit, disease-free, desirable bodies but you’ll have to pay money to find out that’s the case).
My cholesterol was a bit high, my potassium a bit low and perhaps most notably I was 25kg (nearly four stone) over the weight recommended by the body mass index.
I was told that, all in all, this meant that I had a six per cent chance of dying of a heart attack in the next decade.
While a part of me is pretty happy that I have a 94 per cent chance of not dying of a heart attack in the next ten years, there’s another part of me that wasn’t so keen on the slight risk of my own heart attacking me.
You’d think me and my heart would get on well, given we’re fairly reliant on each other for our mutual survival.
But I suppose I have been battering it with booze and fatty food (battering in both senses then), so it’s within its rights to punch me back occasionally. Even if the victory is a Pyrrhic one.
I was basically being told to lose a quarter of my body weight or die (in six out of every 100 projected scenarios).
I decided to lose the weight, not because I am afraid of death (I laugh in its skellington face) but because I wanted to go back into the doctors in a year’s time, show them what I would look like at my supposed ideal weight, point out that I was now getting work as a Skeletor lookalike and say: ‘So here’s what I think of your body mass index. It’s stupid.
‘It doesn’t take into account that people of the same height are not the same width and, anyway, I am just big-boned. Destroy your ridiculous BMI. Now, I am going out to eat a cake!’
It would be a better revenge than Julia Roberts exacts over the people in that snooty clothes shop in Pretty Woman. Plus I wouldn’t have had to have sex with any men for money.
Three months into my campaign of revenge, I have lost about 10kg (still another 15 to go) and if I am honest, I am still looking pretty chubby.
But that does not prove anything. I am feeling a lot healthier but, again, this does not mean that the doctors were right. It’s an amazing weight loss.
Some journalists might try to make millions writing a book about their dieting secret but the only self-help manual I would publish is one called All Diet Books Are Full Of Crap – Including This One. I only need 100 words to tell you how to lose weight. Here they are.
Your body is a machine that runs on food. A certain number of calories a day will keep you at the same weight. If you consume more calories than that without burning them off with exercise, you will put on weight.
If you consume less calories than that or burn them off with exercise, you will lose weight. So eat less and/or exercise more.
I use an app called My Fitness Pal, which lets me know how many calories I should be eating, and I input the food I’ve eaten and the exercise I’ve done and make sure I (usually) keep under the target it recommends.
You just need an impetus to keep you going. Proving the redundancy of the BMI is working for me.