We talk quite a bit about obesity here on Misdirected. It is a blog with a slant towards bariatric surgery, after all. But the point behind bariatric surgery is not actually mitigating or minimizing obesity. The point is about taking pretty drastic measures in order to restore fitness.
But…what does that mean, exactly?
A Little Less Fat
I remember the years before I even considered surgery as an option. I would tell myself things like “If I could get down to 240, I would feel pretty good.” Or, maybe, “I think my ideal weight is actually 225 pounds. That BMI chart is ridiculous.”
The point is that I was so heavy and so uncomfortable that I didn’t fantasize about being functional again. I just dreamed about being a little less fat.
I didn’t dare dream about returning to something close to a normal weight, you see. The idea was too big, too overwhelming. What I really wanted was to have a normal life again. And how can a person who is 150 pounds (or more) overweight think that is an achievable goal?
Sure, we all see the wonderful testimonials of the person who looks in the mirror and says “No more!” Then they change their diet, then start walking, then start jogging, and next thing you know they are running the Boston Marathon.
Just between you and me, those stories didn’t use to inspire me. Mainly, they made me tired just thinking about the work involved. And, in a nation where over 60% of us are overweight, and over 30% are obese, I don’t get the impression that these success stories are thick on the ground.
So, instead, I settled on the dream of being “less fat.” And, as it turned out, I couldn’t even do that on my own.
The Post-Surgical Solution
I have previously documented here what I thought about Dr. Tyner when I first met him. I thought he was out of his mind. His off-hand suggestion to me that I would be under 200 pounds when he was done with me was the stuff of science fiction. Bad science fiction. The kind not based on science at all.
And it turned out he was right and I was wrong. Big surprise – he has a medical degree and thousands of surgeries to his credit. But I literally could not wrap my head around the idea that surgery could almost cut my weight in half.
To this day I am still surprised when I look in the mirror.
So, a person that gets a year out from surgery (as I am), and embraces their new lifestyle (as I have) is left looking in the mirror, scratching their head and wondering “Now what?”
Once the weight is gone, what should I do now? I want to make sure that I become “fit”, right? So, what does that mean, exactly?
So, I went in search of the answer to that question.
The Fitness Gauge
From a certain perspective, I have already arrived at “fit.”
My blood pressure now regularly sits below 120/80. I used to be hypertensive.
My standing pulse rate is around 55 beats per minute. It used to be 80+. So that is a win as well.
My BMI (28.2) claims that I am still overweight, but BMI is a cruel and capricious deity at best. To get to what BMI considers “normal” I would have to weigh in at 154 pounds. I am not sure where another 21 pounds of weight loss would come from at this point.
According to the American Heart Association’s waist circumference test, I pass as well. At my BMI, I need a waistline of 40 inches or less. Earlier this morning I was at 33 inches and some change. (For the record, the passing grade used to be 38 inches.)
So, I am fit, right? Pat myself on the back and have a seat on the couch! Surely I feel fit now, right?
Well, no. Not really.
Here’s where things get funky. Is fitness about what your measurements are, or about what you can do?
Here’s an example. Who is more fit: a nominally “overweight” person who just ran a 10K, or Bob from Accounting who only weighs 130 pounds despite the fact that he mainlines Doritos and Mountain Dew and never moves except to go to the bathroom and back?
I know what my answer to that question is.
My journey has given me the belief that size means nothing unless it is combined with motion. You will never convince me that a sedentary person with a BMI in the “normal” range is fit. The University of Cambridge agrees, with a recent study suggesting that twice as many deaths every year were due to inactivity than to obesity.
If you’ve just gone through bariatric surgery and are wondering “what’s next?”, the answer is clear: start moving.
And, if you are apparently healthy but spend your days in front of the monitor at work and your nights in front of the television, you aren’t as healthy as you believe you are. Start moving.
30 minutes a day, every day. It is as simple as that. Surely you can just cross your least favorite TV show off your list every day and spend that time walking around the neighborhood. Maybe doing yoga. Or even going to the gym, if you are that motivated.
But, for heaven’s sake, do something. Trust me. You’ll thank me later.
An Idle Body Is Entropy’s Workshop,