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The Body Mass Index is a Tool, though A Greater Tool Exists…


My body mass index (BMI) currently sits at 24, on the nose.  For every pound that I gain over my current 177 pounds, I go up a tenth of a point.  24.9 is the final cutoff between “okay” and “overweight”

Going by a standard, non-gender specific calculator, I’m at the high-end of my proper weight.  If I go by the calculator that factors in age and gender, however, I’m smack-dab right in the middle of perfect:

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BMI calculators are tricky things though.  No online calculator can take my larger than average legs into account.  Being a cyclist, my upper body is good but less than impressive.  My legs, on the other hand, are things of beauty.  They’re perfect.  They have to be to get through all of the miles I put on them.  If I had to guess, I’ve got about ten pounds in my legs that most normal people wouldn’t have.

My BMI, being what it is (and those remarks that accompanied my calculations are wonderful), is only a small part of the puzzle when it comes to managing one’s weight.  First and foremost, I don’t go all next level and try to micromanage my weight.  I’ve never had to.  When I figured out, fourteen or fifteen years ago, that I was overweight (I was about nine pounds overweight, going by the BMI calculator), I didn’t panic.  To quote another blogger, I learned to move more and eat less.  It was really that simple.  The weight came off and I was happy again.

When I started cycling though, my weight plummeted.  I was all the way down to 150 and I was too skinny.  I had a tough time seeing it at the time, but I did need some meat on my bones.  Now I try to maintain something between 170 and 175, though I have spent some time this year between 180 and 183.  Still within the margin of error, but pushing maximum density.

There exists one low-tech tool that is of much greater value to me than a BMI calculator:

My belt.  On my black belt, if it doesn’t fit, I’m fat.  If I’m using the last buckle hole, I need to watch my weight.  If I’m using the second to the last, I’m perfect and if I’m one smaller than that, my wife was complaining that I’m too skinny about two weeks prior.

With my macro view of my weight, everything becomes simple…

If I’m on that last belt loop, eat less, move more.  If I’m on the second, keep doing what I’m doing.  If I’m on the third, eat more*.

*Moving less simply isn’t an option – there’s just too much fun out there to have on a bike.

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6 Comments

  1. biking2work says:

    I’m at the upper end of the 30/70-40/70 bracket at 39/70. But I knew that already because my belt have been telling me for a while..

  2. tischcaylor says:

    Seems like a lot of guys use that belt trick, and I don’t doubt that it works. It just isn’t much of an option for women, unfortunately. Having a pair of “skinny jeans” is one way to gauge, but denim can shrink up and stretch out in a way that a belt doesn’t.

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