Yoni Freedhoff has a must-read on BMI and your “best weight” at his US News gig. Be sure to read the whole thing, but here are a couple highlights.
First, I really like the analogy Yoni makes between weight and school and the usefulness (or not) of perfection:
The second [problem with BMI] is the idea that you need to be at (or very near to) some specific, ideal weight to be considered healthy, which is what those favored charts imply. Consider the analogy of school. While it’s true that getting good grades likely does somewhat correlate with future success, does that mean that if you’re not in the top of your class you’re doomed? Other factors—like your work ethic, your ability to work with others, your persistence, your having tried your best—are as important, if not more important, to future success than grades. So why do we place such a premium on the notion of that perfect, healthy weight?
One of the things that drives me insane are all the folks who will talk about the usefulness of losing just 5% of your weight to improve health. I maintain that it is the healthy behaviors leading to weight loss that improve health measures, not the lost weight.
If I’m right (and I think the HAES folks would argue this point too), then controlling what you can directly — your behavior — is far, far more useful than controlling your weight. It will settle where it will settle.
Given this, doing what you can do for the long-term is what’s important. Or as Yoni says:
If you can’t happily eat less, you’re not going to eat less. And if you can’t happily exercise more, you’re not going to exercise more. Next time you’re considering a new diet or other weight-loss technique, ask yourself a simple question: “Could I happily continue living this way?” If the answer is no, you’re just wasting your time. Ultimately, weight lost through suffering almost always finds its way back. You need to like your life.
For a guy who butts heads periodically with the HAES folks, Yoni is a pretty darned good HAES evangelist sometimes ;).