woman on scaleThe bathroom scale is a standard tool for anyone trying to get into better shape. Many either dread or anticipate what that little scale will say. But can the scale tell you the whole story? While it may be a good idea to keep tabs on your weight, it is also important to understand what makes up your weight.

Body composition refers to the amount of fat you have, relative to lean tissue (muscles, bones, body water, organs, etc). This measurement is a clearer indicator of your fitness because regardless of what you weigh, the higher percentage body fat you have, the more likely you are to develop obesity-related diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

Your body mass index (BMI) is a measurement that takes your height into account. Health professionals use BMI to calculate whether a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. For most people, BMI is closely associated with the amount of body fat they carry. To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. The guidelines are:

Interpreting Body Mass Index
Weight Status BMI
Underweight Below 18.5
Normal 18.5-24.9
Overweight 25.0-29.9
Obese 30.0 and above

The problem with BMI is that it does not work for everyone. Some people’s weight and height measurements put them in the overweight or even obese category while, in reality, they are very lean and muscular. On the other hand, some people’s BMI indicates that they are healthy, when they are actually overfat, with little lean tissue. So, whether or not your BMI indicates that you are overweight, it is important to find out if you are carrying too much body fat.