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Posted By Bakari

As I mentioned in the main "Be Healthy", I found when writing it that this subsection of overall health was just too large to fit comfortably in with the rest (no pun intended). While not one of the basic fundamental pillars of health any more than any other specific ailment, given that the majority of individuals in our culture have unhealthy body fat percentages, maybe it is actually worthy of its own essay. Just keep in mind that everything to follow is meant to be considered from within the context of the main "Be Healthy" essay. (Since blogs are listed with the most recent entry on top, the main essay is immediately below this one. If you have not already, read that one first)
Having below a certain percent body fat does not automatically make you healthy!

*I've been using the term "weight" for the sake of simplicity, and out of laziness. We've all gotten accustomed to talking about weight. The common charts list something called body mass index (BMI) which considers only height and weight. Arnold Schwarzenegger weighed 260lbs when he competed. That gave him a BMI of 33. In other words, he was technically morbidly obese. However, he had a bodyfat percentage of only around 6%! The average American is around 25%(male)/35%(female). The average American is right on the border between "overweight" and "obese"; judged not by weight, but by the amount of the body which is composed of stored fat. A healthy fat percentage is nearly half of what most of us are, about 12%(men) / 20%(women) - women naturally have more fat than men, even when perfectly healthy. Our friend Arnold, obese by BMI standards, had half the bodyfat of a average healthy person at 6%. Muscle weighs more than fat. If you are trying to get more healthy, (not just look a certain way) you are exercising in addition to dieting. If you are exercising (at least if you are doing it right) you will gain muscle. Since muscle weighs more than fat, the number on the scale may actually go up, even while you need to use ever tighter holes on your belt to keep your pants from falling off.
Weight means nothing.
It is excess fat, not excess "weight", that contributes to a host of diseases, lack of fitness, and lack of longevity. Everyone has heard the list.
Two much more meaningful measures are fat percentage and strength-to-weight ratio. The first can be measured most accurately by being weighed while underwater (fat floats, muscle does not). More feasible and convenient, you can approximate body fat percentage at home with a tape measure and any of several free online calculators.
They take different measurements, so will give you slightly different answers, but they will give you a good general idea of your fat percentage...

[as my readers are no doubt aware, this blog server has a character limit. The rest of this essay can be read here:
It has some fancy things in it: charts, pictures, even a cartoon! I spent a lot of time putting together information from a lot of sources - but if you don't want to take my word for it, I list those sources at the end. Read. Enjoy. Put into practice! Be healthy, my friend]


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