Body Image & Weight Concerns
- BMI: Best Meandering Idea
- Components of Body Image
- Improving Body Image
- Body Image Resources
BMI or body mass index is a number that is generated by dividing someone’s weight in pounds by their height squared and multiplying the result by 703. This simple ratio of weight and height is now used as a measure of health, and that’s a problem. Historically, Belgian polymath Adolphe Quetelet devised the BMI equation in 1832. He created the formula to be used as a statistical tool across large populations, but he never intended for the number to be used as a measure of individual health. The truth is that BMI is not a measure of health at all. Read more about BMI on Dances with Fat.
BMI doesn't distinguish between body fat and muscle mass, which weighs more than fat. So, BMI can easily overestimate or underestimate body fat. High BMI has no direct causation to being ‘unhealthy’ for the individual. Even though most obese people do have a high BMI, they aren’t obese because they have a high BMI. In fact, many collegiate and professional athletes have been labeled "obese" because of their high BMI, when they actually have a low percentage of body fat. That means a body heavy with muscle and a body heavy with fat fall within the same BMI weight categories.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
“BMI is used as a screening tool to identify possible weight problems for adults. However, BMI is not a diagnostic tool. To determine if excess weight is a health risk, a healthcare provider would need to perform further assessments. These assessments might include skinfold thickness measurements, evaluations of diet, physical activity, family history, and other appropriate health screenings.” These assessments are not always readily available, and they are either expensive or need highly trained personnel, which may be why BMI is so widely used.
Emotional: How do you feel about your body?
Visual: How do you see your body?
Movement: How does your body feel in space?
Historical: What messages have you received about your body?
"Will Powers" for Improving Body Image
- I WILL treat my body with respect and kindness. I will feed it, keep it active, and listen to its needs.
- I WILL spend less and less time in front of mirrors - all they do is make me feel uncomfortable and self-conscious
- I WILL surround myself with people and things that make me feel good about myself and my abilities.
- I WILL exercise for the joy of feeling my body move and grow stronger. I will not exercise simply to lose weight, purge fat from my body, or to "make-up for" calories I have eaten.
- I WILL practice taking people seriously for what they say, feel, and do, not for how slender, or "well put together" they appear.
- I WILL, twice a day everyday, ask myself: "Am I benefiting from focusing on what I believe are the flaws in my body weight or shape?"
Adapted from 10 "Will-Powers" for Improving Body Image. Written by : Michael Levine, Ph.D.
Dieting, otherwise known as:
Participating in restricted, irrational behavior with food in an attempt to change one’s weight.
Dieting (making a radical change in eating habits to lose weight quickly) not only is not healthy, it just doesn't work.
The diet industry (which didn't really exist before 1960) now brings in yearly profits of $40 billion. But Americans' obsession with dieting has not led to losing weight. In fact, 90% or more of people who diet to lose weight regain all the weight within 5 years. Two-thirds gain back all the weight, or more, within 1 year.
People who are thin don't eat less food. Studies have consistantly failed to find a difference in eating patterns between thin and heavier people. Genetics and early family habits of eating and activity have a powerful influence.
Why Dieting Doesn't Work:
Strict diets usually lower metabolism because they cause loss of lean body mass (muscle tissue) rather than loss of body fat. Strict diets with insufficient carbohydrates cause the body to use protein for energy needs. Then protein is not available to build and repair muscle tissue. Loss of muscle lowers metabolism.
A person who loses 100 pounds through dieting typically gains back 125 pounds.
Top Ten Reasons To Give Up Dieting
10. Diets don't work. Even if you lose weight, you will probably gain it all back, and you might gain back more than you lost.
9 Diets are expensive. If you didn't buy special diet products, you could save enough to get new clothes, which would improve your outlook right now.
8. Diets are boring. People on diets talk and think about food and practically nothing else. There's a lot more to life.
7. Diets don't necessarily improve your health. Like the weight loss, health improvement is temporary. Dieting can actually cause health problems.
6. Diets don't make you beautiful. Very few people will ever look like models. Glamour is a look, not a size. You don't have to be thin to be attractive.
5. Diets are not sexy. If you want to be more attractive, take care of your body and your appearance. Feeling healthy makes you look your best.
4. Diets can turn into eating disorders. The obsession to be thin can lead to anorexia, bulimia, bingeing, and compulsive exercising.
3. Diets can make you afraid of food. Food nourishes and comforts us, and gives us pleasure. Dieting can make food seem like your enemy, and can deprive you of all the positive things about food.
2. Diets can rob you of energy. If you want to lead a full and active life, you need good nutrition, and enough food to meet your body's needs.
1. Learning to love and accept yourself just as you are will give you self-confidence, better health, and a sense of well-being that will last a lifetime.