On Monday, Ellie and I took Audrey to the vet for her annual checkup and some vaccinations. Audrey has had a pretty rough year, coming down with Lyme disease in the fall, then breaking a tooth and having it removed in March, then getting sick and throwing up six times in a day—she knows the vet isn't a happy place to be. On Monday, she received more bad news . . . she is a few pounds overweight. She weighed in at 40lbs, which is five more pounds than the vet wants her to be. She has basset-hound-like front feet, and he wants to keep stress off of them as best as possible by keeping her light. Her recent couple pounds are probably my fault, as I typically share at least one bite of everything I have with her . . . she is adorable; what can I say?
I feel that Audrey, despite her heft, is in the best shape she has ever been since we got her. She is now up to running a solid thirty minutes straight, even when it is a little warm and humid out. We try to include her on our thirty-minute recovery runs as much as possible, and she is usually up to the job. I didn't want to tell the doctor this because he said she would never be a runner. Despite running more frequently, and two daily walks, we still need to get her a few pounds lighter through dieting, because that's what the doctor says.
This leads me to a little bit of a rant. Ever since I got on this weight-loss track, I have used the Body-Mass Index chart as a basic guide to where I should be for my height and weight. For those of you who don't know, the BMI chart is a way to gauge your relative body fat based on height and weight. It is a very basic approximation, and it definitely has its shortcomings, but it is the most easily accessible indicator of where you are in terms of having a healthy weight.
For a long time, I fell into the obese category. People kept telling me that I wasn't obese, but yeah, I was. I knew I was, I knew where I needed to get down to, and I knew that I had to do it before I got too much worse. The chart clearly had me smack-dab in the middle of "Obesity." In a way, it was kind of sobering, because it was what it was.
My issue with the BMI chart is how difficult it is to get into the "Normal" category. The only person I know who falls into the "Normal" category is my wife, Ellie, who will be the first to say she wants to lose a few pounds. I was talking to my brother, who recently went to the doctor. His doctor told him he needed to lose a few pounds and get down to 174 . . . and that is insane. For someone who is active and in shape, trying to hit a seemingly arbitrary point on a graph is a little hard to swallow.
I understand why Audrey should be a few pounds lighter, and I do want to reduce strain on her front legs. I just have a tough time appreciating the value of a chart based on height and weight, not taking into account any other indicators of good health. The fact that she can go out and run and play and be happy is good enough for me.
My advice, and I am not a medical authority so take it for what it is, is not to worry about the BMI chart down to the pound. In my opinion, within five pounds of any given threshold is probably where you want to be as long as you are happy with how you feel.