Ask Dr Smiter: “Does this doctor make me look fat?”

Dear Dr Smiter,

I am a healthy, active 40-something female. I work at a spin studio so I spin 3-5 times a week. I also play tennis, swim, walk and bike to stay active. And yet my doctor says my BMI indicates that I am “one pound away from obese.” This is ridiculous – I wear a size 8! How can I lose enough weight to get my doctor off my back?

–Frazzled Fitness Fanatic


Dear FFF,

This is a question close to Dr Smiter’s heart – regular readers will know that Dr Smiter was also recently told to drop “at least 20 pounds.” But an ongoing reality check with her friends, her colleagues and the folks at the spin studio has prompted her to take a sober second look at the issue.

Many, many things besides your actual weight go into the intricate formula that determines how “healthy” you are – your BMI, your activity level, your bone structure, your heredity, the types of foods you eat, the amount you smoke or drink, how polluted your town or city is, your stress level…. The list goes on and on and on till you’re losing weight simply by tearing your hair out in frustration.

 (My doctor is a big poopy doody-face!)

You can be a size 2 but have thin, brittle bones or a high ratio of body fat – a condition colloquially called “thin-fat.”

And let’s face it, anorexia nervosa, a stressy divorce or a round of chemotherapy will also help squeeze you into a size 2 but you will most definitely not be healthy.

 “How many calories does my husband’s head have?”

Likewise, you can have larger bones and muscle structure (like Dr Smiter), NOT look anything like Lauren Bacall in a bathing suit, but be off-the-charts healthy because (like Dr Smiter) you exercise, you eat all the healthy stuff your mum told you to (veggies, fruits, whole grains, dairy, blah blah blah), you don’t smoke, you drink only a little or none at all or whatever the bloody pundits are saying today will stop you from getting cancer of the breast/colon/earlobe/nose hairs….

And finally, the time of day at which the doctor weighs you (you’re lighter in the morning, or after fasting), the time of the month (for women), and whether the doctor weighs you with all your clothes on, also makes a huge difference. Infamously, Dr Smiter was weighed with eight pounds of winter clothing and her boots on – just type an extra eight pounds into that handy-dandy BMI calculator and see where it lands you.

Anyway, my point is this: first of all, we are way too obsessed, as a nation, with weight and looks and low-fat this and sugar-free that. It is absolute insanity. When someone like you (or Dr Smiter, for that matter) is basically threatened with bariatric surgery and liposuction as their “next step” by some nincompoop with a medical scale and a chart, something is really, really wrong. I may not look like Lauren Bacall, but I can bench-press my weight in quack doctors and outrun any of them.

 (this is Lauren Bacall, for all you young’uns)

And second, Dr Smiter is not a doctor, so take what I say with a grain of … well, something healthy, I guess. (But be sure to wash it down with a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon.)

As a parting note, however, I will share one excellent weight-loss tip with you that will help you to lose 185 pounds virtually overnight: pick up the phone, make one quick and merciless call, and ditch that doctor. I plan to do the same, and I feel better already.

Toothy regards,

Dr Smiter

Got a question? Ask Dr. Smiter

Related articles of interest:

Margaret Wente, “Get fat, live longer,” Globe and Mail, July 24, 2009

Women exercise an hour a day to keep pounds off,” CBC health news, March 23, 2010.


1 Comment

  1. Ann

    Have some confidence in yourself, and bear in mind that to judge yourself by what you weigh leads to becoming a dinosaur – incidentally, the largest creature ever known!

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