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BMIs are Bogus: (and not all vegans are skinny)

Updated: Apr 13, 2020

A few really interesting things happened when I became vegan. I've never felt bloated again. I haven't had heartburn since. I don't have to count calories anymore.

The changes were more drastic for my husband, I think. When I switched to a plant-based diet, I had already been a vegetarian for 12 years. I still ate dairy, eggs, and fish. Those were the only things I nixed from my life 3 years ago. It was my meat and potatoes husband who grew up on a dairy farm that quit cold turkey (pun always intended) and overnight cut out all animal products and has never looked back. It's been a fun life-science study to watch how he changed. He used to go on carb free fasts when his weight fluctuated. Now he just eats whatever he wants. He used to get heartburn ALL THE TIME. He never does now. He always used to complain about aches and pains. After combining his veganism with curcumin tablets...I never hear those complaints anymore. It's pretty nifty to watch someone get healthier.

I'm not skinny though. I never have been. I'm short and curvy. I recently was ranting with my personal trainer, and she agreed - along with my best friend from high school who is a Physician Assistant - BMIs are BOGUS! I cannot figure out why doctors and insurance companies still use them as an indication or factor of health. One of my personal trainers is "obese" because he is very short and very muscular. It's infuriating, honestly.

I am the healthiest I have ever been! I work out more than ever in my life. I am so strong. I could take my 25 year old self in a wrestling match and obliterate her. I make almost all my own food. Apart from a couple favorite restaurants that we have researched and earmarked, we don't trust or can't find vegan food very easily outside our home. Pretty much only Asian cuisine is safe for us! Thai, Vietnamese, and Indian (though you have to ask careful questions to make sure on this one, so we stick to the one Indian restaurant we know and love!). Those are all my favorite foods anyway so it's fine for us, and we are super lucky that an entirely plant-based glorious restaurant recently opened near us that I cannot gush about enough. Check out Surya Cafe's menu, it will blow your vegan mind.

My not-skinny ass is still peeved about a couple things though. I actually offered to be considered for a living liver donation recently. I applied because it was a baby girl and they said they needed a small donor. Her dad was a match but at 5'5" he was too big. I am much shorter than that so I offered, as a matching blood type. I figured as a petite woman, my organs are probably also smaller. The doctors did not even want to MEET me because of my BMI.

I also know that if I lost 20 or more pounds, I could lower my life insurance premium. Because of my BMI.

It's so very frustrating that our society and medical professionals still try to put us in a box and define us by numbers. I have always struggled with the scale and how I let those numbers affect (more like infect) my self image and self worth. The scale numbers have never - NEVER - been what I want to see nor have they made me happy. So I'm trying something new. I am basing my image and worth on how I feel and what I know. Not on a number.

I know I am strong. I use heavier and heavier weights each week. I can one-arm chest press my son. Stamina. I know that in the past few months I am able to do more reps in the same amount of time of a lot of my exercises. I have been working out much more religiously for about 2 years now, and I love the feeling of continuous growth in this way. To find this near 40, when I never had this in my teens and 20s, is actually a delight of my adulthood. I love that I'm more fit and fabulous now than I was then. I have more endurance too, and I see that mostly in my play with my three year old. I am more excited to go for walks with him, actively play with him at the playground, and spend hours a day running around the house playing tag. It's a gift to be a part of it instead of huffing and puffing and watching from the sidelines.

We know that for us a plant-based diet is the healthiest choice. Our bodies feel better. I mentioned I don't count calories. One of the beautiful things I learned from the Forks Over Knives movement is that when you fill your diet with the right foods (whole food plant-based foods only), you really can eat whatever you want, as much as you want. We aren't perfect little FOK angels in our house. I follow the Facebook group and some of those WFPB vegans are HARD CORE!! We try to limit our oil and sugar, but we aren't perfect at it. My husband still sneaks Oreos. Some bagged chips and other store bought snacks are vegan but not WFPB. We don't have them a lot but we dabble...! I am getting better at roasting and sautéing without oil (who knew that was possible!) And I try to use their sweets recipes on my FOK meal plan, but I still do bake with imitation butter and real sugar often. My sweet tooth is probably the big reason that I'm not a skinny vegan!

But I love this life. I love this choice we've made for our family. And I love the resulting factors. We made this switch purely from a scientific and health basis. We have Alzheimer's and cancer in our family histories. We are older parents who want to be around for our child's life. We saw the facts of what the human body really needs and how it best thrives, and we believe that whole food plant-based eating is the ideal. Then there are the other things you learn after you make this change. Vegan eating and living is better for the planet. It creates less waste, it doesn't contribute to climate change on the same scale, and the animals...oh please let's care for and save the animals...

Also, to all you doubters out there. I have one more thing to say... YUM! (Taste the rainbow!)

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BMIs are the DUMBEST thing ever! I totally agree that health insurance companies/doctors should look at the person and their lifestyle instead. I think it's honestly easy for them to just check a box instead of actually look at individuals.

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