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Understanding Where I Fit in the Body Mass Index

The body mass index (BMI) is a measurement that breaks down the ratio of your weight to your height. You know you’re supposed to have a healthy BMI, but you also know you’re supposed to feel good about yourself, no matter how you look. 

How important is your BMI? And, even more important, what does your BMI mean about you? Does a high BMI mean you have to lose weight? If so, how can you do that without gaining it all back later?

Maria Cole, APRN, FNP-C, and Kelly Wenger, APRN, FNP-C, founders of Maria Cole Family Practice in Odessa, Texas, want you to be as healthy as possible. That’s why we created this guide to understanding your BMI.

What the BMI measures

The BMI is a tool you can use to determine whether the amount of weight you carry is appropriate for your height. If you have excess weight, you could be at risk for a wide range of chronic conditions and even serious, life-threatening diseases.

However, the BMI does have its limitations. For instance, if you're a bodybuilder and have a tremendous amount of muscle mass, your BMI might indicate that you’re overweight or obese, even though you’re clearly not. 

Another limitation is that the BMI doesn't account for body mass lost to aging. For instance, you may have a lower BMI than you did 20 years ago, but that doesn't mean you're healthier. Instead, you may have lost muscle mass and bone density, while also gaining fat.

In most instances, though, the BMI tells you if your body mass is in a healthy or unhealthy range. You can check your body mass right now, using this BMI calculator. Below, find out what your numbers mean.

Less than 18.5

While less is sometimes more, that’s not always true when it comes to your BMI. If you’re underweight, you may not be getting the nutrients you need to fuel your body.

A low BMI could also indicate the age-related bone loss of osteoporosis. Or the age-related muscle loss of sarcopenia. We may recommend eating more high-quality protein and doing resistance exercises, such as weight lifting, to raise your BMI.

If you’re a woman in your reproductive years, having a low BMI could also negatively affect your fertility. Contact us if you notice changes in your menstrual cycle, such as skipped or light periods.

18.5-24.9

If you’re in the 18.5-24.9 range, your BMI is normal. You don’t have to lose weight, and you don't have to gain weight.

However, you may have other areas of your health that still need work. For instance, if you're not exercising enough every week, you could be at risk for bone or muscle loss. That’s why getting an annual physical is an essential part of staying healthy for life.

25-29.9

If your BMI is in the range of 25-29.9, you’re overweight. That’s not a judgement on how you look, but it is a warning about your health.

Although having a few extra pounds on your frame might not cause any problems at the moment, if you're overweight right now you probably have some bad habits that could cause you to continue to gain weight.

Even a few extra inches of fat around your waist can cause havoc. Fat releases the hormone estrogen, which makes it harder to gain muscle mass and easier to put on more fat.

30 or more

If your BMI is 30 or more, you’re considered obese. Obesity is an epidemic in the United States and is a serious health risk. Obesity vastly increases your risk for:

If your BMI is in the obese category, you need to lose weight to regain your health and reduce your risk for early death. But don’t panic and go on a drastic weight-loss diet without support. Even when you’re obese, you still need to eat nutritious meals that keep your organs healthy.

We get you back to health and a healthy BMI

If you need to lose weight, we don’t recommend a fad diet or a one-size-fits-all approach to shedding excess pounds. Instead, we work with you to design a whole-foods diet and exercise program that you can stick with. We also give you the support you need to make sticking with it easier.

You don’t have to settle for an unhealthy BMI. Call us at Maria Cole Family Practice at 432-200-9087 to schedule an appointment. You can also reach our weight-loss team with our online message form

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