Working My Gut Off To Be Normal

I’ve written about weight and exercise and health before in My Completely Obvious Secrets to Losing Weight, Scheming on a Thing, That’s Exercise Sabotage! and My Food Addiction. My body size, shape and weight have been stressful topics for me my entire life, and they’re on my mind constantly.

When trying to improve one’s health and fitness, it’s useful to have goals. Many fitness programs and health tracking apps put the emphasis on weight. “What’s your ideal weight?” they ask, assuming that you have any idea what a realistic or healthy body weight would be for your body type. Or they may ask for your height and current weight which they use to calculate a Body Mass Index (BMI). They will then give you a target weight which represents a “healthy” BMI. But BMI has some problems which I feel are underrepresented. I think the reason so much weight (pun) is given to BMI is because we don’t have a neat and simple alternative to define health. There’s no grand, eloquent equation of perfect health.

I started my journey by setting a weight goal. I made progress, but I never hit my goal. I got within ten pounds at one point, but complete success proved elusive. As I’ve done more research, I’ve come to see body fat percentage as a more useful measurement. The research is starting to support body fat as an important health indicator. Body fat, like BMI, categorizes ranges of health for groups of age and gender. One might be low, normal, high or very high. Even after losing thirty pounds, I was still in the “high” range. I set my sights on “normal” and got to work.

On September 23rd, I hit that major health milestone. For the first time in my adult life, after some five years of concerted effort, I have finally measured in the “normal” range for body fat.

I’m happy and scared. Unlike some goals, like getting a novel published, this goal can be undone. Also, unlike most aspects of my life, this is one area where I’m very happy trying to be normal. I’m in a weird place right now.

Okay. Enough celebrating. Back to work.