It’s never too late to turn your health around. Just ask DW, who completely transformed his health and his life at the age of 69 with a set of diet, exercise and lifestyle changes that increased muscle mass, reduced fat and boosted his metabolic rate by more than 200 points. Here’s how he did it — and proved that wellness knows no age limits.
Obesity is a major health concern in the United States and, increasingly, around the world. Being overweight contributes to a long list of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. A key tool in the fight against the “obesity epidemic” is establishing guidelines not only for healthy scale weight, but also for how much fat contributes to a person’s body mass and how many calories are burned to maintain it. In his journey from fat to fit, DW’s measurements in all these categories underwent dramatic changes.
The Body Mass Index: A Misleading Measurement
The Body Mass index, or BMI, is the simplest way to establish whether a person’s weight is in a healthy range. The BMI is derived from a calculation of height relative to weight, and the resulting numbers fall on a scale ranging from normal (a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9) to overweight (25 to 29) or obese (a BMI over 30).
At the start of his new regimen, DW’s BMI measured 28.8, in the high overweight range bordering on obesity. But after losing 37 pounds and 6.5 inches in waist circumference with a healthy diet and consistent workouts, his BMI jumped to 30.4, squarely into the obese category (see image to right). What happened?
Blame this entirely misleading change on the fact that DW’s new lifestyle had increased his muscle mass by 21 percent — from 72.8 to 88.4 pounds. Muscle mass is denser than fat, so building muscle increases a person’s BMI, even though that also means losing fat in the process. BMI alone is a very limited way to assess an individual’s actual fat mass.
Measuring Fat Mass: A Better Index
Because the body mass index doesn’t actually measure how much of a person’s body mass consists of fat, the fat mass index, or FMI, provides a more accurate measurement. Based on measurements such as total weight, height and the circumference of waist, hip and other parts such as the neck, forearm and wrist, the FMI can reveal a very different picture than the simple BMI.
In DW’s case, while that BMI was moving into the obese range, his fat mass dropped from 55 percent to just 12.9 percent. That’s a loss of 33 fat pounds and a decrease from 8.7 to 3.9 on the fat mass index, all while his muscle mass was increasing. The combination of losing fat and increasing muscle (see image above) also meant a boost to DW’s basal metabolic rate.
The Basal Metabolic Rate: Muscle Burns Energy
The basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is another measure of overall fitness. The BMR measures how efficiently the body uses energy at rest for functions ranging from breathing and heart rate to modulating temperature. When muscle mass increases, so does the BMR. Because of his muscle gain, DW’s basal metabolic rate increased by a stunning 254 points (see image below).
A Healthy Lifestyle Is a Commitment
Wellness isn’t an event; it’s a lifestyle — a commitment to healthy changes that last a lifetime. That kind of transformation can happen at any age, but it can also create some new problems. DW says there’s no one his age who can keep up with him, and on a recent trip spent kayaking and hiking, neither could his 17-year-old grandson.
To begin your customized wellness lifestyle, call the Seasons Wellness office today at 865.675.9355.