Ah! People love quantitative goals. They love absolutes: this is true, this is false. It’s the black and white mentality.
We’re pole dancers right? We are aiming for health. So how do you measure how healthy you are? Oh people love quantitative measurements, so here we go!
The Body Mass Index (BMI) - a formula that shows you how much you should weigh based on your height.
BMI: At the surface, makes sense. And it’s a good guideline, but that’s all it is. A guideline. Here’s where your inaccuracy comes from, it doesn’t take into consideration muscle mass versus fat composition. What if you’re a body builder? More than likely you’d be considered obese. But we’re not body builders, we’re pole dancers...we’re not that extreme so it shouldn’t skew our numbers right? Hold up, have you seen how strong pole dancers become? I did my own BMI, and I am .5 point of being considered overweight. How much sense does that make? I can physically teach three classes a day, I can lift my body own body weight in a variety of positions, including being upside down and climbing the pole, face down, booty up all the way up to the top of the ceiling. (Caterpillar climbs, amazing conditioning exercise you can find out about it in Vertical Conditioning!) If that means borderline overweight, I’ll take it!
Moving on, BMI doesn’t make sense.
Let’s try the Height to Waist Measurement. According to this test, your waist circumferences should be less than half your weight. So if you are 63 inches tall, your waist circumference should be less than 31.5 inches.
So here’s the inaccuracy, what if your naturally thin? For this test, you’d be in great shape! But does being thin mean being healthy? You can be thin and completely out of shape. You can be thin, and not have the stamina to walk for a mile, you can be thin, and not have any strength. Let’s throw this one out the door. Doesn’t make sense.
Let’s go to the classic scale. This gives a guideline if we are in a healthy range or not, right? What should your ideal weight be, could this give us an answer? Um...please refer to the inaccuracy of the BMI mentioned above.
The scale has no accurate reflection. I got rid of the scale in college. I was studying for my BS in Exercise Science and we had to complete an experiment. We had to go through our daily routines, document our food consumption and weigh ourselves 6 times a day for a week. What we found was, body weight fluctuates roughly by five pounds every day. It various depending on food, sodium and water, last bowel movements and overall hydration levels. So at one point, you can be a certain weight, have a bowel movement and urinate and literally lose three to five pounds. Having the scale determine if we are Good or bad, or healthy or not makes as much sense as losing 10 pounds instantly by chopping off your head. Next please!
What about the one mile run/walk test for endurance? This will test your endurance, but what about your strength? Furthermore, what about your sleep? Yes sleep is an important part of health. What if you can run like the wind, but you’re only getting 4-5 hours of sleep every night? Just google sleep deprivation and you’ll see the unhealthy effects.
Moving on. There’s tons of tests out there to see if you’re healthy. But usually these tests are only measuring a few factors, they are not taking the body as whole together. There’s the abdominal plank test to measure core strength. It doesn’t consider stamina, flexibility, or body fat. There’s the pushup test for upper body strength, but again, this doesn’t factor in the body as a whole.
What about blood pressure? You can have good blood pressure numbers, but be unhealthy. Reversely, you can have hypertension, but dominate in strength, stamina and flexibility tests.
So maybe, we need to take a variety of tests, to accurately account for all these factors, correct? Not true. You cannot measure one’s overall health in numbers. The body works as a unit, it works as a whole, and there’s three main components in overall health: the physical body, the mental self talk and the spiritual component.
Physical Body: Nutrition, Cardiovascular and strength training exercise, flexibility and rest.
Mental Self Talk: How are we talking to ourselves? Are we more positive or more negative? Is our internal dialogue kind and compassionate towards ourselves, or calling names?
Spirituality: being connected with the your soul and the human spirit
Hmm….this changes things. How do you measure how spiritual you are? How do you measure how healthy your self talk is? The answer is, there’s no one test out there to measure overall health. Darn it! Health isn’t very quantitative at all!
Would it be safe to say, that balance is the key? If the three components are a triangle, each line in the triangle affects the overall shape. Where one line in the triangle we are solid, we got that component down! Well the other two lines might need some improvement. As we focus on each line, each component, the triangle changes its shape. The key would be, to get all lines equal distance, all in perfect alignment.
None of us have a perfect equilateral triangle. Our triangle is constantly changing angles as we grow and practice each component.
Practice. Practice is repeating an activity, skill or task that is acquired or maintain proficiency in it.
Being overall healthy is a practice, a daily journey that has no end point. It’s juggling these components simultaneously and together and always aiming towards the goal equilateral. But enjoy the journey! It’s like searching for the gold at the end of the rainbow, we have hope it’s there, but the rainbow keeps shifting as we keep moving, at least appreciate the colors of the rainbow and how beautiful the view is on our journey.
This week, question your beliefs on how you measure your overall health. Where are the truths and faults in those beliefs? What areas would you want to improve in? Pick one or two things this week to focus on, and make it happen!