Thursday, December 10, 2009


I'm going to ask you to do something (it won't take but a second), and, depending on the result, I'm going to tell you to take action.

Go here, enter your information, submit, and come back.

I'll be waiting right here.



Congratulations, you now have your BMI. Your Body Mass Index.

BMI isn't a flawless tool by any means; however, it's the best we have for free, it's easy, and it is applicable to the general population, for you have to be heavily muscled, and I mean heavily, for this number to be inapplicable.

If your number is below 25 you're dismissed now. Head to recess.

If your number is between 25-30, you have some work to do, and I'd ask that you stick around for information on possible coming attractions.

And if your number is above 30--I'm not going to candy coat it--you have to! you must! you need to! lose weight. Now. On behalf of your kids, your friends, your pets--whoever it is that you care about most--lose weight.

"Obese" is not about how you look. It's about what's going on in your body.

Damn dress sizes and bathing suits; the kind of damage your weight is doing has nothing to do with hating your jeans or being uncomfortable with your body. No, the damage is life-threatening.

Again, no sugar coating, your obesity (for above 30 is classified as "obese") is opening you up to the kind of risks that will eventually kill you, punching your ticket to The Happy Hunting Ground much earlier than you intended to get there. And before you die, the medications you're going to have to take to keep you alive longer will complicate your daily living, making the life you have left less livable. Medically, your weight is doing severe damage. It's killing you.
Before I go any further, its imperative that I state that I'm not speaking in any professional capacity whatsoever. I work in the medical industry and am paid to talk to doctors about the products I have responsibility to sell. I am not selling to you. I am not even telling you what products I sell. I am providing you with some information and corresponding warnings. I'm not going to site my sources; you're just going to have to trust me or seek to validate the information yourself. Additionally, I'm only going to give you widely-known statistics, not the targeted specifics I use on a day-to-day basis. This is not a sales call; it's you and me having a conversation punctuated with a call to action.
For many disease states, your BMI is a good indicator of your risk. Today we're talking specifically about your risk for diabetes, which drastically increases your risk of cardiovascular-related death. Drastically to the tune of 70-80% of people with diabetes die of CV-related causes (that's heart attack and stroke, folks).

An over-30 BMI is a grand risk for Type 2 diabetes. (I'm not going to get into type differentiation here.)

Diabetes? Who cares, right? So many people have it and they're alive and kicking, yes? Yes. But the raised sugar levels in their blood (for, simply put, that's what diabetes is: sugary blood) require daily medication--very often necessitating insulin shots to sustain life. And diabetes isn't just inconvenient in the way of treatment, it's also a generous benefactor of severe sight degeneration, loss of nerve response, lower-limb amputations, dementia and Alzheimer's.

Treated and tightly controlled, diabetes doesn't have to make you lose your vision, your feet, or your memory; doctors know how to stall the disease's progression. But once a doctor diagnoses you with Type 2 diabetes, you're generally already well into the disease and damage is underway and enthusiastic.

The lifestyle that took you to a BMI of 30 is doing damage right now.

But you can stop it.

One out of every four people over 60 has Type 2 diabetes. And researchers at the University of Chicago predict that the overall incidence (across all age groups) in America will double over the next 25 or so years, taking the current incidence of diabetes from 23.7 million to 44.1 million. (Present U.S. population is approximately 300 million.)

Why the doubling? Obesity. Plain and simple.
Obesity. A BMI over 30.

I spent all of last week at a world-renowned medical teaching institution being schooled on physicians' perspectives regarding diabetes treatment, risk, and complications. One of the leading practitioners there said that he tells his patients that the first five answers on how to lose weight are 1. eat less, 2. eat less, 3. eat less, 4. eat less, and 5. eat less; the sixth answer is exercise.

Why am I harping on this? Well, because last week I had the fear of God lammed into me.

I am healthy. My weight, though more than I want it to be aesthetically, is perfectly healthy. And because I know what happens to my risks if I reach the "overweight" classification and how they further increase if I get to "obese," I must stay that way.

I love my husband. I love doing yoga. I like looking at my computer screen to write and to design. I love my family. I have so much in my life that I ought to be grateful for, and each bit is a reason to care for myself. I cannot let my eating get out of control. I have to make sure I'm taking care of the gift of a body that God gave me.

So do you.

The call to action: if your BMI is over 30, eat less. Please. Your eating less will help you lose weight. As you lose weight your risks will go down. As your risks go down you can have confidence in your health and you can continue to enjoy your family without the hindrance of necessary medical care or concern about premature death.

And as a bonus, you'll be that much more comfortable in your own skin.

This is me begging you.


Walker said...

What a great post - especially this time of year. The average American gains 9 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's sad and scary and a part of all of our lives...every day, not just the week before our doctor's appointment. Thanks for writing this, I have a few people to whom I want to send it.

Unknown said...

I am considered "obese" by the calculated BMI standards. I know I'm overweight and believe me, I am actively changing. I am fully aware of the risks I face, but there are many who are not and live in denial. I hope putting this information out there will help someone to wake-up and get real with themselves.

My grandmother has diabetes and her mother lost two legs and ultimately died from it. It is a real life threatening disease people should take seriously.

I commend you for this post and I encourage you to harp away.

Saretta said...

Awesome post. Wanted to add that for some ethnicities you have to look at your family history as well. If your family, like mine, has a history of heart disease and diabetes you have to work even harder to get to that lower range of normal BMI.

Most gyms will do a body fat test with those pincer things (they'll measure different parts of your body depending on if you're a man or a woman). This is really helpful for getting a more accurate measurement after you've done the free BMI test online.

I have a lot of relatives with type 2 diabetes and they are constantly battling heart problems, skin problems, high blood pressure, checking blood sugar a few times a day, dialysis, etc. It's a downward spiral that you can slow down, but not stop. Very sad.

SeƱora H-B said...

I know. And this is my primary goal for the New Year. And the next one if necessary. Thank you for the reminder to get my butt in gear.

Rabid said...

The irony of this post is that if the world would heed your advice and change, you'd be out of a job.

Yet another reason I like you so much... principles are principles are principles.

L said...

How ironic since I was just building my list for tomorrow and obesity is on it. I am currently scanning a conference room wondering why people and how people preach what they don't practice....more irony the talk has to do on dieting and clients....yet most the field is chowing down on shit.

BMI is the ginger head in the body measurement family. During undergraduate I had to get my body fat tested weekly and came out severely obese which baffled my professor, ask JMakinavis about my size.....

Point being some tests are not valid and reliable but yes, for health sake drop weight. There would be no need for most health care if people did this.

Jessica said...

My dad is an insulin-dependent diabetic (although not caused by obesity) and it isn't fun. At all. He's used to it, since he's been diabetic my whole life, but the maintenance required to keep himself healthy is extensive.

Please don't lecture me about my sugar consumption. I know, I know, I know. I'm trying. And I give myself the lecture all the time.

Winder said...

Thanks, it is good to know that I have slithered right into the overweight zone. I am looking forward to advice. My BMI is 1 point into the zone so it shouldn't be too hard...or will it.

Ryan said...

hmm. methinks i should have checked today's post before warming up t(w)o (of) my stouffer's french bread pizzas and candy cane joe joe (though managing to keep the "s" off the latter "joe" was an accomplishment in its own right).

anyway thanks for the post. good to know someone cares, even if in an "i know what's best for you/you'd better do what i say" kinda way. :)

megan, we talked counting once, but i don't imagine i had cause to mention SparkPeople at the time, having not yet met the online you. lol, now it just sounds like a web page of your devotees, but alas it's just one of many sites out there for tracking cal's, exercise, etc., including a remarks wannabe, the dailySpark, and a megan/whitney mash-up: SparkRecipes. anyway i just throw it out there as some of my greatest successes have included bouts with counting, so here's one easy-ish way to do it if anyone's interested.

Jessica said...

ryan, you're a gem. How did you find all those sites? Googled Sparks?

Natalie said...

Not to mention how us healthies who run every day and watch what we eat have to pay YOUR health bills through our insurance premiums, and these days with the economy and health care crisis being what it is, well, it's NOT funny.

That's the meanest thing I've said all day and damn it, it felt GOOD.

Megan said...

Ryan, I'm pretty sure I'm a member of Spark people; I think I joined a couple years ago. What an adorable irony, 'cause that's about the time I joined the population of Sparks, NV. What a fabulous name of a place to live.

A Megan/Whitney mash-up. Quite perfect phraseology.

And Natalie, you and I are on the same page 150%. Yes, it goes that high. Let's sit down and talk about my thoughts on preventative care and the cost mitigated. On and on.

Gee, Rabid, I didn't consider that I'd be out of a job. I really didn't. But, like you said, if it's health that puts me out of a job, I'll happily go back to school to become something else. Problem is that despite the fervency behind my harping, it's not like anything's ever gonna change. (I'm an optimist through-and-through.)

Megan said...

Oh, and S., the pinchy things are called "calipers." Hateful little things, they are, confirming for me that I've got more fat than I want.

Jodi said...

I should have read that pre-dinner rather than post. That pesky number plus seeing a picture of me taken from behind on Tuesday (when is that ever a good idea?)are the kick I needed to set the alarm early and get some exercise in the morning. Begrudgingly but sincerely, thanks.

whitneyingram said...

I thought of entering my weight and then I realized that my pregnant weight is none of my business. I just eat well and grow babies and not take even a glance at the scale. I'll wait until May when I deliver and then feel the glee of losing 20+ pounds after giving birth.

Plus, the stretch marks I am cursed with while pregnant are evidence enough that something is going on in the weight department.

Sidenote: Have I ever told you that pregnant stretch marks don't recycle? You get new ones EACH DAMN TIME.

Misti said...

Overweight. But I knew that. My jeans told me. I miss my 4's and 6's. Stupid 9's and 10's.

Don't worry, I have a project in the works that will blast it all's coming in March.

Katharina said...

Well-timed rant.
I spent most of yesterday helping a surgeon install new vasculature in people who, due to diabetic complications, now require dialysis. I swear to you, dialysis is a sh*tty way to live and diabetic complications are an equally sh*tty way to die. If only people could get a preview of what it is to be tied to an invasive machine three times a week for the remainder of life. Not to mention the other lovely physical manifestations. Unmitigated, unmanaged weight gain and diabetes are truly wretched plagues on the quality of one's life. Keep getting the message out there, lady.

And to Nat-Fat-Rat: you took the words right from my lips.

Ryan said...

not this time, jessica :)

believe it or not, megan wasn't my first spark (gasp). i actually happened upon some time ago, and the other sites are derivatives of the original: a veritable sparkliverse just waiting to be inhabited and consumed.

clearly, megan, you've taken your citizenship to the nth degree, having first moved to the center of the sparkliverse, and now having taken its name as your own. could it be...that you are the one?

Mette said...

Haha. Good thing I stopped reading after I was dismissed. Now I gotta go eat my way up to 30 and above to be able to read the rest.

Cant wait!