A LOAD OF BMI AND CHUCK ADAMS ON WRITING…

March 7th, 2012

At my last Behavioral Medicine doctor’s appointment at the Veterans Administration we talked a bit about how to track success. There’s weighing myself in the morning, of course, but I was hoping for other measures because weight (especially when I kick-up the exercise later this month with daily bike rides again — my 2012 goal is 1,000 miles — and start adding muscle) doesn’t really tell the story.

I’ve been tracking my body mass index (currently 28.4) but the measure is only a general guide when calculated using the formula since it doesn’t differentiate between different densities of tissue. That’s why reading Why the Body Mass Index is a Poor Measure of Your Health by Peter Janiszewski (tagged in Read It Later 10 days ago) interested me.

Janiszewski confirms my understanding of the wishy-washyness of the BMI and, like my doctor, suggests the waist-to-hips ratio measurement as a better alternative — he refers to it as the apple vs. pear challenge, my ratio is .98:1 at present — but beyond that and certain seemingly arbitrary tipping points, there’s not a lot of help for people who are really, really goal orientated.

There is how clothes fit (loosely right now, and that’s good) as well as the very subjective: how do you feel? question. The whole process, as a scientific exercise, is dissatisfying. What is satisfying, amazingly so, is the recognition that after 36 years of steady weight gain, I’ve shed 55 pounds, and that feels pretty damn good.

Having Chuck Adams as my editor would feel pretty damn good too. I first became aware of Adams as an editor back in the mid-’90s when Simon and Schuster was publishing local novelist Rick Montanari’s Deviant Way and Adams was Kinky Friedman’s editor at that house.

Adams fell victim to New York downsizing and now he’s the Executive Editor at Algonquin Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Back in September of 2009, Adams sat with literary agent Sally Hill McMillan on a panel sponsored by ProNoveWriter and talked about the business of writing.

What I took away from the talk was not specific, or even general advice for writers, but rather the humanity of Adams. I’ve been enough panel discussions over the years, read a highest enough stack of books on writing, clipped and saved a carpet of articles from Writer’s Digest, The Writer and Poets and Writers to have delivered the factual content myself, but I believe Adams when he says he wants to see great writers publish great books, not because he wants to make piles of money, but because it gives him joy and if we’re not in this lifestyle for the joy of it, why the feck are we here?

Next up: RSA Animate – Drive (from 562 days ago) and Get Your FBI File! from nine days ago.

Previously…

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