Category Archives: Weight

It’s ok to be “pleasantly plump”? Millions of New Year Resolutions resolved

pleasantly plump

No, I think it’s just denial. :)

According to this research report, people who are slightly above ideal weight, based on BMI, are at lower risk of dying. Quite simply put: it’s good to be a bit fat.

Is it? I think the problem is what do you mean by 1) plump 2) “BMI above normal”.

This reminds me of the funny little incident last July when my doctor told me, then weighing 67.7kg with a BMI of 23.7, that “ideally your weight should be two kilos lower“.

The point is that when people rely too simplistically on BMI as an indicator of ideal weight, you run into situations where people become mistaken that all that matters is the number, not the actual state of health. I mean, BMI measures weight against height, but it actually doesn’t consider, to put it crudely, shape. The shape of one’s health and one’s actual shape.

The findings, by scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were immediately challenged because the report didn’t consider gender, age, fat distribution, or fitness levels, all factors that influence the risk of disease and death.

That’s to put it simply. Unfortunately, I suspect most people still don’t get it. And while the “report also shouldn’t be viewed as a free pass to overindulge, ” I think somewhere along the line, someone’s going to quote the headline out of context and overindulge.

OK, so here’re the problems:

Plump in fat or plump in muscle?

A person may be interpreted as “plump” because his BMI is a little high. That’s what my doctor thought. Clearly, being a busy polyclinic doctor with patient quotas in the hundreds, he didn’t really look at me very carefully, so I’ll quote my friends instead.

“You? Fat?” Incredulous look.

“Don’t be ridiculous! You’re too slim already!” Incredulous look.

But the doctor said I should lose another two kilos. My trainer wouldn’t really agree. While I can afford to lose a bit of fat, I cannot afford to lose more weight. I.e. muscle mass. There’s a difference, big big difference.

Two people with the same weight but different fat/muscle ratios can look very different. For example, these two women are about the same weight:

samebutdifferent

As the post succinctly says, “Just as a pound of feathers will look different from a pound of granite, so will a pound of muscle to a pound of fat. Fitness is more than a number on a scale. Two people may weigh the same, be the same height, but be in completely different shapes.”

For a very thorough look at this topic, see this great post at Julianne’s Paleo & Zone Nutrition.

The report suggests that being midly overweight is ok. But the real questions are: is it ok to be mildy fat? If it’s actually good to carry a little extra weight, are we talking about carrying more fat? Or is it really about carrying more muscle (which usually, hopefully, implies carrying less fat) ?

I’m afraid this report only serves to highlight the problematic thing that is BMI. As this article so nicely puts it, “BMI does not distinguish between the Michelin Man and the Terminator“.

Another one for the denialists

I see a lot of fat people these days in the streets, more than ever. They say America has an obesity problem. I think I can see it here in Singapore too, growing right before my eyes. Last year, I read an article/blog post on the internet where a woman (not Singaporean) was bitching about the fact that she couldn’t care less about being fat, that it is fine to be so, that fat people should be proud of it. Even scarier is the fact that a lot of comments to that article were in support of her sentiments.

My sense is that, the more fat people there are in the streets, the more fat people think it is ok to be fat. That it is the norm. It’s impossible for me not to be judgmental about this, but all I can say is I don’t think this is a good trend. And when headlines say things like it’s ok to be pleasantly plump, it only serves to make matter worse.

 

Further reading: The Problem With All of This ‘Overweight People Live Longer’ News (The Atlantic)

Jogging the Muscle Memory

One month away from gym. Yesterday was my first trip to the gym after a month. I’ve been away in Finland, and my trainer was also overseas. Thus for most of September, we were both absent at the gym.

When I came back in mid-September, by right I was supposed to do some exercising on my own. But my discipline remained lax as usual, not to mention I was pretty sad after 3 days at home. Jet-lagged, missing clean and light Finnish food, and Finnish autumn weather. I told myself I’ll take a week’s break before I start exercising. Then on the Sunday, I had a bout of stomach flu. This took me about 3 days to fully recover.

I finally went for a jog the weekend before my trainer returned. I ran and ran and felt my stamina lagging behind. OK, that was to be expected.

Then there were the chocolates. I brought back quite a bit as souvenirs, and very few people at home ate them. Yes, and I live with my wife and two daughters, strange they are. (OK two of them were also sick). I’d also developed quite a taste for cheese after Finland. In fact, for the first 2 days after returning from Finland I had quite an urge to eat “normal” Singapore food, and indulged in a packet of (unsatisfying) Hokkien Mee.

What I’m trying to say is that I was fully expecting my fat mass to go up. Well, the truth is the stomach flu made me lose two kilos. I can tell you that when I realized it at the weighing machine I was filled with both dread and joy.  Probably my fat will go up, and I will lose a lot of muscle, but at least I haven’t actually gained weight.

I ate rather generously the days before I returned to gym, and yesterday, there, I weighed 66.7 kg. Actually a little lower than before I went to Finland. But what was the real surprise was my fat mass. It was 17.5% – and measured twice to confirm. Really funny! I hadn’t exercised in a month! My trainer suggested maybe the Finnish food is REALLY that good. I wouldn’t disagree.

“You’re still not eating enough.”

Tsk. Words you wish you could hear while dieting, words you wish you never hear …. after dieting.

After months of trying, I still cannot reach the weight I’m supposed to be. My trainer says I have to eat more. MORE. Since the beginning of 2012, my weight has hovered at 66 to 67 kg.  It used to be that going to gym, I’d worry about not having lost enough weight. Nowadays, I am anxious that my weight hasn’t gone up. And it hasn’t. My trainer would like to see me at 70kg – still some 3 kg to gain.

On Friday I ascended the weighing machine at the gym, and felt a tinge of fear as the numbers rolled. To my disappointment, I had dropped another 0.1 kg since Wednesday. 66.8 kg.

Wait a minute, isn’t this a weight loss blog? What the heck am I taking about?? In case you’re new to this blog, my weight loss journey has been so successful that I’ve been told I need to gain weight. Gain muscle mass, to be precise. Remember, being underweight is not a license to gain fat.

So, go eat, my trainer tells me. Eat more, have more carbs, but not too much. Put on a little fat if you have. We’ll burn it off along the way.

Basically, I have been  put on a mission to gain weight.

So over the weekend, I tried my very best to avoid healthy meals. Just for the heck of it. Actually, my trainer does often suggest that it’s ok to indulge a little over the weekend. A lot of gym-going people do it.

It was ice-skating Saturday morning – I got my girl out of bed early so we could go to MacDonald’s before the session. I had a sausage egg McMuffin – I ate the whole egg AND the hash brown, without guilt.

For lunch, I had fried bee hoon with ngoh hiang, all fried! Not deep fried, but still fried.

For dinner, I had yong tau hu, my usual healthy meal… except this time with laksa gravy!

And I even had a slice of multi-grain bread with low-fat cheese, close to mid-night.

On Sunday, I enjoyed breakfast with my girls. I had three takoyaki balls, two slices of whole meal bread with peanut butter and jam, and share some cereal and blueberries with my littlest girl.

For lunch, a sinful bowl of mee rebus with TWO mini-sardine puffs – one of my favourite things from my Fat Era.

A small bowl of yong tau hu for dinner, a handful of wholemeal cinnamon crisps at 8pm. Then, a half-cup of milk with protein powder, a handful of blueberries and dried peaches, and 3 slices of papaya at 10pm.

Do I feel fattened? Pinching my stomach, not really. Maybe a little.