|Many thanks to Olivine's Charm School for the wonderful photo.|
A common misconception is that all vegans are skinny, even emaciated, weaklings, although just a little bit of research will turn up loads of well-known vegan athletes who disprove that stereotype in one fell bench press. At the other end of the spectrum, it's completely possible to be a chubby or even fat vegan. Just because a food is plant based doesn't mean it's necessarily healthy. Fritos and Oreos are vegan, but a steady diet of them won't get you into swimsuit shape. The point is, we're all different, we can all be better, and a vegan diet can help us with everything from weight loss to disease prevention and reversal.
After I lost enough poundage to feel pretty good about myself, I came across the idea of checking out my BMI. Body Mass Index estimates the amount of fat in our bodies, based on a simple calculation using height and weight. It's not precise, but it is a good tool for helping to get real about our health and goals. It's easy to fool ourselves into thinking we're "just big boned," or "a little chubby," when in fact we might be officially obese, which of course leads to all sorts of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and "bad" knees and backs. A quick BMI calculation might be just the nudge a "slightly heavy" person needs to get out of denial and on to a healthier life track. A reality check can be an uncomfortable thing, but it's not as uncomfortable as a heart attack.
For me, having been what I would call fat (see my Before picture on the My Story page of my website), it was good to find out that I'm now smack in the middle of the "healthy" range of weight for my height. Having struggled with my weight for years, I had a hard time really seeing my new and improved body accurately. I still want to lose a few more pounds before the next half marathon in June, but now it's simply because when I have less to haul, the running is easier.
There are lots of online BMI calculators out there, but the one I like best is on the Mayo Clinic site. They offer a version for adults, as well as one for children, explain briefly what BMI is all about, and offer simple suggestions for making improvements, such as eating fruits, vegetable, and whole grains. More and more, eating a plant based diet is just what the doctor orders. Bikini or no bikini, it just makes sense to do all we can to take good care of these lovely bags of skin we've been given to live in. And whatever your choice of swimwear, I'd much rather see you on the beach than in the hospital.
Are you happy with your weight and health? If not, what's one simple change you can make right now to get you going in a better direction? "Weigh in" here!