I no longer weigh myself – how NHS local is changing my life

I have always said that the hallmark of a good writer is one who is changed through her words.

The purpose of writing is to make a difference. If words don’t make a difference to the author, then why should they have an effect upon anybody else?

It is now almost a year since I have been working for NHS local, a digital service for the NHS in the West Midlands.

I have been handling the words and video on the site for long enough to ask myself the question: “What difference has this content made to my life?”

As it happens it has made a difference in so many ways I will need to write not just one post, but a series to explain it all.  This is the first.

I no longer weigh myself

I used to find it so disheartening to find that the more I worked out, the more I weighed.

“Muscle weighs more than fat,” my friends would tell me, as I noted that I had lost two inches from waist and gained seven kgs.

I know, I know – or at least I did at one level.

And yet the NHS continues to use the bloody body mass index (BMI) as a way of assessing if someone is obese, even though the index does not measure if the weight is due to muscle or fat.

It’s very difficult to really believe that weighing yourself is a waste of time, when our national institution responsible for health asks you to step on the scales in an attempt to assess your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.

“Bog off” to scales and the body mass index

Thanks to NHS local, I can now say: “Bog off” to my scales and to the body mass index. The service has made a film of two women, of similar height, both classed as overweight in BMI terms.  The women were put through a body volume index (BVI) scanner that can distinguish between muscle and fat at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham.  Despite being a similar height and weight, the scanner found one woman was healthy and the other needed to lose some fat.

At last, I can fully believe what my friends and Phil, my highly-toned and clincially obese (in BMI terms) personal trainer is telling me.  “Muscle weighs more than fat.” It really does. Thank you, Dr Asad Rahim, from Heartlands Hospital.

As for you, scales. “Bye bye.”  I measure my waist and that’s all.

Comments: 7

  1. Laurster says:

    Great article. Have to say it’s difficult to totally ditch the scales. I spent ages trying to gauge my weight/shape purely by my trusty old jeans; if they were tight I needed to work out/go easy on the biscuits – if they were loose… actually that never happened. Anyway eventually I grew out of said jeans and find weighing myself weekly helpful to learn how what I’m eating and what exercise I’m doing is affecting my body.

  2. That’s great Laurster, so long as the scales ARE giving you information about how what you are doing is affecting your body. I was needing to ditch them, because they were “telling” me that working out was making me fatter, even though my clothes and the tape measure and my friends were telling me otherwise.

  3. That’s really interesting. We hear that the waist measurement is important, but not how to work out whether it’s good or bad.

    I suppose the calculation has to take into account height, weight and other proportions. Which, of course, wouldn’t be anywhere near as simple to explain – and, crucially, *promote* – as the simple BMI.

    Good to hear you’re no longer disheartened, anyway! ‘Rah’ for NHS Local!

  4. Yes, I guess the BMI is well used because it’s simple, low-tech and easy to promote. But if it’s misleading, doesn’t it do more harm than good? I have a very fit friend, who is constantly battling with her weight. Why? Because a nurse at her GP’s took her to one side and said: “I’m sorry to say this, but you’re obese.” My friend has been at war with her body ever since. I want to take the system that caused the nurse to do that test and make that interpretation and smack it about the head.

  5. Virginia Moffatt says:

    Hi Jo,

    Lovely to find your website and GREAT post. I have long despised BMI for this very reason!
    And I NEVER weigh myself!

    Lots of love


  6. Virginia Moffatt says:

    Thanks Jo. I keep up with your progress via Anne, and occasionally read of your exploits etc…Really amazed at what you have done over the years. And as a somewhat obsessive, though slow and tubby runner, always glad to welcome anyone else on board.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *