Should I Be Worried About My BMI?

Is measuring your BMI the right way to measure your body composition?

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

I want to talk about some of the better alternatives to BMI. I’ve heard this number bounced around quite a bit. It stands for Body Mass Index, and it’s an equation that’s done to give you a rough indication of whether you are overweight, underweight, or so on.

If you’re a very muscular person, your BMI is going to imply you’re overweight, when usually that isn’t the case – it’s because you’ve got the dense muscle mass. So it’s not an accurate number, but that said, I’m not particularly keen on any number that you can apply to somebody’s body composition (which I think is a better way of describing things).

Body composition is how your body is composed of water, muscle, fat, and bone. For most people, we want a little bit more muscle, and in some cases, quite a bit less fat, but body composition is the right term.

What am I a fan of?

Look in the mirror. Be objective. Are you happy with what you see based on your own measurements, not some warped distortion of what you should look like that’s been propounded to you by the media, for example? Are you happy with how you feel? That’s probably the most critical subjective measure of all. Do you feel fit? Do you feel good? Do you feel happy based on your own personal standard?

And of course, you can bounce off other people to get their perspective, but really, it’s about you and how you feel.

My final measure that I’m really keen on is functional fitness. Can you do the things that you want to do? Can you climb the stairs in the time that you want to get up the stairs? Can you lift your shopping, lift your children, play with your children? Are you able to lift your suitcase off the carousal in an airport? If you can’t do any of those things, then your functional fitness is probably what you need to focus on.

Rather than obsessing about a number, focus on your functional fitness, focus on how you feel, focus to a degree on how you look – but not primarily.

And as a final measure, the thing that never lies is an item of clothing. A jumper isn’t going to expand to make you feel better or shrink to really irritate you, so having a piece of clothing that you want to get back into can also be a good measure, because these things don’t change – if it’s too baggy or too tight, it’s you that has changed. But focus primarily on how you feel.

Check out my TEDx talk, Why Fitness Is More Important Than Weight, if you want to get a bit more on this idea.

What’s your Health IQ?

If you’re reading this, you might be in reasonably senior position, running your own business or have a busy life running the home and juggling other responsibilities. Either way, you’re busy!

The convergent pressures of work and family life have probably meant that the time you did have to spend on health and fitness has disappeared. Why not talk to us and see how we can help.

Click here to take our test

Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit or email [email protected] to register your interest in our services and connect with us on FacebookInstagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


Habits and Weight Management: How to Make Positive Life Changes

by Jeremiah Kemboi
Statistics show that...the problem with health stats.

I Am Not a ‘Health’ Statistic and Neither Are You

by Kristen Houghton
Photo by Gesina Kunkel on Unsplash

The power of the scale

by Lina Salazar

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.