February 25
Weather beaten, divorced father of 4 through a lot of changes and far happier than I have been in my entire life... in spite of the day to day crap coming my way. The ability to find the humor in it all and maintain a sense of openness and respect with those with whom I choose to share my free time, makes it all worthwhile. Expect intermittent rants of whimsy as time permits. And maybe the occasional political rant to get my left leaning friends all in a dither.


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OCTOBER 26, 2009 10:38AM

BMI Index Discriminates Against Canucks

Rate: 27 Flag

A year long effort at losing weight through exercise, food moderation, and, well, smoking again, has yielded great results.  The results have been so good, a few people who have not seen me in a while have looked at me with rather alarmed looks and asked me if I am sick.

 Now, I had always joked that the only way I would ever see the south side of 200 pounds again was if I had my leg amputed or came down with metastic cancer.  Neither have been the reason for the weight loss among the myriad of influences contributing to the benefit.

So I took a new picture today now adorning the blog.  That's the face of a guy who is 5' 11" and 188.  It's not a bad thing.  The tops of my feet get wet in the shower now.  I can bend over and tie my shoe laces without losing my breath.  My knee does not throb as often.  The grocery bill has dropped precipitously, but butts are expensive.

I can actually lay down in regular-sized bathtubs without my shoulders rubbing against the sides -- barely.  A two person tub could be inviting for another again.  Relaxed fit jeans actually feel, well, relaxed rather than snug everywhere but the waist, which has a few inches of fat hanging over.  For, let's face it, relaxed fit jeans are a way for a person to buy clothes a size smaller than they really should in an effort to boost self esteem somehow.  Nothing like actual, regular fit pants being a little baggy to really get that necessary boost.

So I can actually tuck my shirts in without feeling like I am "wearing it out."  Belts are more than a mere ornament, they actually keep my pants up.  I also do not have to inhale to buckle it on the last hole in the belt, either.  Nor to they start to distort as had been done in the past.

 On the downside, fruit spoils faster than sodium-laced snack foods.  Fruit can't be sealed in a time capsule, I guess, but Doritos and Twinkies will be there 100 years from now, provided global warming hasn't flooded over the building cornerstone in which they get buried.

So out of curiosity, I hit the BMI calculator index on the internet, plugging in the old and new weights for the 5' 11" frame.  It comes as no surprise the older weight had me as obese at 37.7.  Obesity by the malnourished twit who devised the scale starts at 30.  Overweight is 25.0 to 29.9.

Well, the current weight of 188 puts me in the overweight category at 26.2. 

Still fat?  Then how come folks caution me not to lose anymore weight?  How come folks quietly ask me if I am sick?

I blame it on my French Canadian genes, water skiing, and football.

Though 5' 11", I have only a 30" inseam.  Torso weighs more than calf, damn it.  (This also explains my glacier speed in sports that kept me a center, catcher, and goalie lo those many years deluding myself I had athletic talent.)

And waterskiing and football developed my quads and hamstrings, such that I had rather well developed, if beefy and slow, legs. 

So who devised the BMI scale?  Was their sample size merely concentration camp survivors? 

I would have to drop another 9 pounds to get to 179 to be the heaviest "normal weight" for my height.  I could melt to 135, or 53 pounds less than that picture, and this scale would say I was on the low end of "normal weight."  Low end of normal weight?  I would be dead, but at least the coffin would be cheaper.  I could split a vault with someone of equally as "normal" weight.

5' 11" and 135?  Models weight more than that, for god's sake. 

Yes, I am going to rationalize, I really have the frame of someone 6' 1" or 6' 2" based on the stubby little Canadian Maple tree trunks that serve as my lower appendages.  Doing that gets me into the high end of the normal weight category, which is not that bad.  At my top weight I had to rationalize I was 7' 3" to get into the normal weight classification.

That isn't a mere rationalization.  It's a delusion.



  Stubby-Legged Canucks Everywhere Feel My Pain 
(Note fabric belt for greater flexibility)

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I totally agree. And, looking good! Quit the smoking though. I struggle with urges from time to time since I quit, exspecially if I allow myself to go on a "smoking binge" for a night. I am just one pack away from being a smoker again, some days.
Congrats on the weight loss, Geoff. I too suffer from long torso. May your mental and physical health continue to improve (this was not a shot; a compliment)!
Tai: Couple more pounds and the butts go away again. Need enough of a cushion there for the inevitable weight gain.

JK: My Canuckistani grandfather was 5' 9" with a 27" inch inseam. Then again he was also part American Indian. But we've blamed enough on them. :)

OE: Long torso is a great rationalization for ignoring the BMI when going all blimp on yourself. Beware my good man.
maybe there's something to it- my dad has about the same proportions as your grandfather. Then again, I'm 5'5", and have a 31" inseam
I recently lost 600 pounds. It's so nice to be able to fit through doors now.
One complaint -- where's the before picture?
You look kind of sick . Have you seen a dorctor?
Hey, Looking good. Forget BMI - or rather, don't forget it but know there are exceptions.

As for the short-legged rationalization, reminds me of my mom, who, as she lost inches and her weigh ballooned, rationalized that though she stood at 5'2", she was really 5'6", which is why her 195 pounds wasn't "as bad"
Congratulations on your weight loss, Woolly. You look great! I think of BMI as standing for Bowel Movement Index.
congrats on the weight loss.
Well done, you cranky old coot. Stubby legs and all.
Congratulations on the weight loss! Before I even started reading your post, I saw your new picture and thought..."Wow! He has changed. He looks younger!" You look great and now if you can stop the smoking, you'll be so much more healthier!
Cheater! Standing in front of horizontal strips makes you look thinner. heh Congrats on the weight loss. Long torso, short legs isn't just Canuck, btw, most gymnasts around the world are built that way, including the former one who sleeps with me.
The stripes in the background make you look thinner. You now need a decorator.
Remember, too, that north of the 49th gravity sucks harder because as the earth spins it sort of expands at the equator (not unlike, say, a 200 pounder on a 5'11" frame) so the poles get squished a bit closer to the core. That's where all the gravity lives. Go to the equator... you'd probably only weigh 155 there.

Looking good. Now quite smoking. It'll stunt your growth. Oh wait... to late.
"Torso weighs more than calves" is the best line I will read all day! And it's logical, really. I can see you making that argument in a doctor's office when they tell you that you still have a few lbs to go.

You look great!
great post. Funny and it gives me hope that I will lose the rest of my weight.
Peppermint: My god, an inch longer in the legs and 6 inches shorter? You don't have legs, you have stilts. :)

Neil: Not into lifting. Not looking to bulk up, as muscle quickly turns to fat. Working more with elliptical machines and biking now that winter has taken kayaking off the table. (sobs)

John: I avoided a lot of cameras. I still have trouble fitting through doors when my ego is not in check.

Nikke: Read the last line re rationalization and delusion... :)

Cartouche: Your comment reminded of the Saturday Night Live spoof ad for a cereal called Colon Blow.

Marcelle: thanks.

WonderPony: Yes, but no races, I am but a shetland.

Patricia: Younger looking is relative. I don't look near death anymore. :)

Sally: Those horizontal stripes adorn the entire townhouse, as I need quick and dirty "window treatments" and cleaned out one style at Wal*Mart. $16 for the 80" ones, and $14 for the 60" ones. LIfe on the cheap, BAY-Bee. Interesting not about gymnasts. That was not a predilection of mine vis-a-vis my own athletic pursuits. ... as it were.

OE: See comment to Sally. I cannot afford one.

Chris: Equator living has some appeal. Warmer, cheaper, and more fresh fruit.
Geoff looks better than his photos. And he's fast in a kayak.

It's not only Canucks who suffer from BMI. Although I could stand to
lose 20 pounds, my current BMI of 30+ is a joke. To get to 25 I've have to weigh less than my lean body mass.

And the torso/leg ratio resonates. I'm 6'2"" with almost 32" inseam.
Thus, I'm even taller than Geoff sitting down.
Nice going. I've been down that same road more often than a long haul trucker. It isn't easy.

Ignore the stats, they don't take into account a myriad of individual body factors. Take pride in how you feel and what you've accomplished.
Jim: Thanks for the kudos. I remember your saying my last picture looked awful when I thought it was good. I know not my lean body mass number, and I am not inclined to find out, frankly.

Brawer: Yeah. I was not really concerned with the BMI thing to start. Simply tried to make sure I was NOT setting goals to start that were so unrealistic as to be discouraging. Then, once I started hitting them, I just decided to keep going with it. So, when folks started suggesting I had gone too far, I figured I had to double check the BMI stuff to see where I was.
It's all about the inseam! And I'm going to use you as inspiration. Unemployment has packed 15-20 lbs on me.
I'm in the same boat as you. I lost 85 lbs., and I've managed to keep it off. According to the BMI, I am still overweight. And like you, people have asked me if I was sick (sign of the times).

I know your blog was meant to be funny (I read the tags), but a lot of people erroneously live and die by the BMI.

I know a guy who is 5'3" tall and weighs 185 lbs. If you went by the BMI he would be grossly overweight, yet he has 5% body fat and his biceps are about the size of my thighs. Plus, he is an amatuer ju-jitsu champion. BMI combined with waist circumference and a health assesment is the better gauge.
You could have taken the Jerry Seinfeld approach, and switched waist tags on the outside of your jeans.
I think the weight loss is wonderful Geoff...seems to be a new you emerging...what is the guy analogy for becoming a butterfly? OE's comment made me laugh. And, great writing...
Walter; Slight upticks in activity coupled with down ticks in food intake make all the difference in the world. I swapped out nachos, for example, with yogurt into which I'd cut up some fruit, or just cans of fruit cocktail in light syrup. Yogurt has dairy, and dairy hits hunger pangs, rather than a salty snack retaining fluid AND making you thirsty to boot.

Trudge: I am down about the same from my high, but a little less in the year. No idea the BMI stuff nor am I thrilled at the idea of pumping myself up, as it were, given I am at an age where sagging is to be expected.

Con: Believe me, a year ago I would have leapt at that chance.

Mamoore: Actually the argument was made to ME by MY doctor two years ago as I was expressing my disgust at how far I had to go.

Mical: There's always plateaus. Gotta change it up and shift the metabolism a little bit.

Old New: It's all the compassionate conservatism coursing through my veins.

Mary: I would argue it is the old me emerging, not a new one.

Now that that's out of the way...I know what you mean. My mother's started to mutter that I shouldn't lose any more weight, but I'm not even at the mathematical MIDDLE of my "healthy weight" on the BMI yet. Getting there will require losing another 6 lbs...something that probably ain't gonna happen, considering my body's hit a nice happy stasis point 25 lbs. below where it used to be.

You know who came up with BMI? The insurance industry, that's who.

Congrats on the weight loss and eating better, Geoff! And really like the handsome new avatar photo! But! Loose the BUTTS! Smoker's breath is a deal breaker! And those bad little suckers will shorten your new, healtheir lifestyle. You're on the right track!
Great post. I love to read about weight loss success stories. As far as the Canadian Maple tree trunk issue, us gals do have an advantage over you guys to address this lack of legginess. High Heels. As I age, and my BMI is extremely challenged, the higher my heels get.

When I run into people who haven't seen me in a while, they question my height rather than my weight. I was formerly 5'4", now I am a slender 7' tall woman. :))
You're in great company, stubby. Olympian Michael Phelps is 6' 4" with 30" inseam!
I think your weight is perfect. I keep perfect weights in my head, and your weight is the Platonic ideal for a man 5'11" tall. That calculator needs recalibrating.

I totally cheat on my BMI. I lost 2 inches of spinal height to arthritis. What? I have to be 10 pounds lighter all of a sudden? Those 2 inches mean the difference between normal and overweight. I figure my BMI with the taller height is sort of grandfathered in.
Congrats. Although I have some bad news for you regarding your BMI discrimination case. Statistically Quebeckers have the lowest obesity rate in North America. So I'm thinking the problem is still your American lifestyle not your French Canadian genes. Oh well. Keep at it. You look great (even if I miss the seadogs cap.)
Best line of the week: "Was their sample size merely concentration camp survivors?" Perfect. Just perfect.
Verbal: Plateaus hit that can be discouraging if you are looking to keep going. I just let it be and continued exercising and then would kick it up a little and eat a little less, start dropping again, and then go with it. But 6 pounds over ideal if ideal is this BMI thing sounds damn good.

Sao Kay: I have been using the "big boned" rationalization for years. That is my story and I'm sticking to it.

JC: Yeah, they are on the radar.

Brie: Yeah, I was going to have to be 7' 3" to make it work at my peak. No way to rationalize that one.

Annoir: I remember reading that about Phelps. I guess pot stunts your growth. Sure did help his wing span.

Sirenita: Yeah, go with that. Losing 2" just means compression of the basic frame. Move to the Equator as someone suggested to me. :)

Juliet: You Canuckistanis really know how to burst our American bubbles. But I still have the sea dogs hat, although it is a little more worn from sweat when kayaking and biking. :)

Steve: glad you liked the line. Was worried it might have been deemed hurtful by making light of that, but it did seem to fit the mood I was in, so I went with it. Comedy is a tough business. :)
PS -
G - Yeah. Loose the "ciggy butts," You're the package!
JC: So are car bombs.
You. Look. Mahvelous! Glad you lost only pounds and not your sense of humor!
You're correct - BMI is becoming less of a standard for obesity than it used to be. Other measurements, such as waist circumference or neck circumference, appear to be more correlative to health risks. But the search for the perfect measurement continues!
wolly, throw those charts out the window! Now. I happened to see a show on cable about the "BMI' charts. They were made up by a oh see, I didn;t dvr it, but by some guy in some diferent country in the 1800's- someone correct me here. Anyway, people were of different shapes and sizes.
I am 5' and 125, and according to the charts, I am "overweight", although I work out and fit into a size 6-7. To be what they tell me, I have to weigh 95-100 lbs and I think be a size 0? Just a few years ago, I was 109 lbs, and people asked me if I was "SICK".

Far more important to toss that BMI chart, outdataed and old fashioned., out the door. Good job, I say. Oh and to all the non smokers, I say Smoke on, or quit someday, (I plan to) don't worry about it- yes we should quit- I'm not ready yet. When you are ready to quit, you will.
Far more important to get blood pressure normal, no high blood sugar, or high chloeslterol.
Dear no longer 7'3",

I'm continually amazed (appalled?) at our similarities in all but politics. As a former half-assed jock, I can relate to legs too short for the rest of me, tho short legs also meant quick if not fast. Now if I'd just had some of these extra pounds back then, I coulda been a contender, instead of a bum, which is what I am.

Like you, I have reasonably concluded my BMI belongs in the 6'2" to 6'3" range, especially since I am now on the wrong side of 200. I'm also what they used to call "big-boned" -- which means never being able to find a leather watchband or shoes that fit quite right.

When I had my Nautilus and returned to fighting trim, 6'0" (I say 6'0" tho I am actually 5'11 1/2" and have had to resort to that mild like since I am continually confronted by guys who tell me I must be taller since they are 5'10" and I'm staring down on their bald spot) and 160 pounds. And yes, when I was in shape (other than round), I was constantly being asked if I was sick or something.

The BMI numbers are bullshit in my book, tho the dire warnings about obesity becoming epidemic in the US do not bode well for future cost of healthcare. On the other hand, it is often said that being overweight is exaggerated as a cause of poor health.

Can't say for sure who's right about that, but to be on the safe side, I think Obama shoulda picked a different surgeon general. See -- we can agree about politics!
totally hot new av...not gonna ride you on smoking....i do it myself...good show, my friend. xoxooxxxx
BMI IS meaningful. It is a useful measure for determining the probability (NOT the inevitability) of weight related disease. But what most of the do-it yourself BMI calculators fail to take into account are two things: age and muscle mass. The generalizations of the BMI charts are just that: generalizations. In order to be really accurate, a body fat %age reading should be done, either by water displacement (expensive and not enough more accurate to justify the expense) or by electrical impedence measurement (the amount of water in fat VS other tissues causes a gradient in the impedence that is measurable).

As a female, when I was younger, a BMI of 20-25 was considered healthy. Now that I'm approaching 60 (will be 59 in January), the healthy range is considered 22-28. My guess is that the chart that you used did not differentiate for age. At 5'6", I can now weigh a little over 160# and still be at a healthy weight--so long as I'm also FIT--by eating properly and getting adequate exercise.

I don't know your age, but if you are over 50, then take the charts with a grain of salt, and talk to a nutritionist or a physiologist to find out your "real" healthy BMI.

As an aside, one of the reasons that people think you look sick is because they're not used to seeing the bones of your face. I haven't been particularly active in Open Salon, I don't remember your before picture, and you look great to me!
It's TRUE! We're descended from Canucks and we all have long bodies. My sister is 5'7" and has to wear petite pants because her legs are short! My father is 6'8" and wears the same inseam as my 6' (Irish) husband! Of course the BMI is totally off kilter with us, we're all torso!