Arrgh the annual medical is rearing its ugly head. My last two jobs and my current gig have required that I trot along to the doctor every year for a medical exam. I know that these exams are useful insofar as they can pick up symptoms before they become major problems. Nevertheless I loathe these exams not just because I hate needles but a few years ago one of the Doctors decided that I had either lung cancer or TB (the latter of which would see me deported) after completely misreading my chest x-ray.
Last year's exam was not much fun either. Despite all the other tests for blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar etc coming back bang on perfect, my Body Mass Index was floating around 25, the medical line in the sand for being a fattie. So as a result the doctor told me I needed to think about losing some weight. The infuriating part of the doctor's advice is that I checked all the boxes for a 'healthy' lifestyle. I exercise at least 4-5 times a week for an hour at a time, I don't smoke, rarely drink, get my 5+ a day of fruit + veggies and have largely limited my vices of chocolate, baked goods and ice-cream to a once-a-day treat. Yes I'm sure that the solitary serving of 'junk food' would have the lunch box nazis tut-tutting but there is a world of difference between 'junk food' and a 'junk diet.'
But there was the horrible label I thought I had banished from my life, fat. That wordis a horrible creature. Not only does it mean the labels in your clothes have bigger numbers but it also brings up a whole host of other terms along with it. To be fat is to be lazy, unfeminine, undisciplined, aggressive and unloveable. Fat is also a synonym for stupid. And stupid is how I feel about obsessing about this number that really doesn't mean anything.
Even at my Cambodian food poisoning induced skinniest, my BMI was still registering 22 - apparently the upper side of the 'healthy' range. However anyone who saw me immediately after my trip knew I was anything but. I looked pale and gaunt my skin sagged along the bones of my body, hardly the picture of perfect health and when you have half a dozen stick thin Korean women voicing concerns about how thin you have gotten you know something is not right. But hey, at least I could see the bones of my ribcage protruding through my skin. Jackpot baby!
Now I'm sure that anybody who knows me off screen would be quick to jump in say 'quit your bitching, you're not fat ex-expat.' But when they are saying 'you're not fat,' what they really mean is you aren't any of those other nasty labels we associate with word fat. But what about the associations with word thin? Thanks to the hysteria surrounding the obesity epidemic we think thin = fit and healthy.
But as I've demonstrated that isn't always the case. Yes weight is a strong indicator of health and fitness but it isn't the only one. Being able to walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for air is probably a good indicator of fitness and other indicators of a system under stress from too much weight such as respiratory problems, elevated blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar (for type 2 diabetes) are actual markers of bad health rather than a dress size.
So at this point I am going to take my advice and not obsess about my weight but getting my 2.4km run down under 12 minutes which is what the police expect females of my age to be able to run. Not so much because I want to join the force but I figure that's a good place to be at fitness-wise just in case I decide to rob a bank or something.