Weight and Health

I’ve struggled with my weight for a long time.  As a younger child I was active, horseback riding, swimming, or just running around and playing outside.  I see pictures of my 7 year-old self and wonder, how was I ever that fit? And tan? I certainly don’t get tan now. Anyway, I was a healthy, active kid.  So, what changed?

We moved, I hit puberty, and as I got older I began leading a more sedentary life. Less time was spent climbing tress and more time was spent in front of a computer or curled up with a book. I have struggled, and failed, to maintain what is considered to be a healthy weight.  I’ve never been hugely obese, but I have consistently been above the healthy weight limit for someone my height. I’m 5’10” and according to the CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_BMI/english_bmi_calculator/bmi_calculator.html) my healthy weight range is between 129-174.  According to WeightWatchers (http://www.weightwatchers.com/health/asm/calc_healthyweight.aspx) it’s between 139-174.  And being 30+ pounds above the max weight limit for your height is considered obese.

My senior year of college (2009-2010), I lost about 60 pounds.  I spent the summer of 2009 in Bolivia, where I probably lost 15 pounds, came home and committed to the gym and following WeightWatchers.  I went from weighing about 155 pounds to 192 pounds, which is still out of my weight range according to the charts, but which I was happy and felt healthy at. The following year, I moved overseas and gained a good portion of what I had lost back and have been yo-yoing ever since.  I have never gotten back to 192, but I have been at 205.  Currently, and putting this all out there for the public is not something I’m completely comfortable with, I weigh just under 236 pounds. And for my own personal exercise in torture, see below:

Combined

For the last year, I have maintained this weight.  I haven’t lost and haven’t gained.  I don’t know what happened to my motivation, but I had just enough to not gain.  Actually sticking to WeightWatchers, which I’ve been doing on my phone, wasn’t happening. For whatever reason, I not seem to have regained my motivation and have been tracking and sticking to the program pretty well for the past 2 weeks.  Now, this isn’t to say I don’t occasionally have some candy or a pastry, I’m not that into self-denial, but I am being much better and not binge eating junk food.

I’ve also gotten back into the habit of going to the gym regularly.  I now go 4-5 times a week and have found that the hardest part is actually leaving the house (especially when it’s cold/raining/gross out) and actually going to the gym.  Once I’m there, as long as I have something to read or watch, I can be there for a good while.

Your health corresponds to your weight and, for me, the desire to lose weight stems in large part from a desire to be healthy so I can do all the things I want to do.   I love to travel and  want to be able to climb mountains and do other strenuous activities that I just can’t do right now. I don’t want my weight and health to hinder me from doing anything.  My grandmother is 88, lives by herself, is incredibly healthy, and I want to be in the same shape she is at her age. For this to happen, I need to be healthier than I currently am.

This isn’t to say that part of my motivation to lose weight isn’t simply to look better. Thinner doesn’t always mean better, but I know how I look at 192 vs. 250, and I think I look better, which makes my image of myself improve and gives me more confidence. I don’t necessarily have horrible body image currently, but it’s not great either.  I usually love shopping, but now I don’t enjoy it so much because I don’t like what I see in the mirror and that’s frustrating.

I don’t think some of the beauty standards we have in America are at all healthy, which is something that’s being talked about more. Some people are naturally thin while others aren’t. I will never be a size 4, and I’m good with that, being that size isn’t my goal and, quite frankly, I wouldn’t look healthy.  We do need to put less stress on thinness as a beauty standard and more stress on being fit and healthy.  Plus, fit and healthy doesn’t always mean thin.  I know plenty of people who are in great shape, but aren’t necessarily thin. People have different builds and body types and on persons fit/healthy body may look completely different from another person. There is no one perfect shape or look and there is beauty in those differences.

Me, I’m looking for an in between.  I want to be lose weight to be healthy, but also to feel more confident in how I look.  Ideally, I’d like to get down to somewhere between 175-185 pounds which, for me, would be a size 12, maybe a 10.  Size 12 isn’t what many would consider thin, but for me it is. And it’s healthy. I won’t lie and say that our beauty standards haven’t affected how I view myself, of course they have.  I’m sure they contribute to my desire to lose weight to look what it has been engrained in me to consider ‘better.’ However, standards don’t need to go to the extreme opposite either.  There has been considerable push to have heavier, un-photoshopped bodies, those not considered by Victoria’s Secret standards to be perfect, in ads.  This is good, it more realistically represents most people and will hopefully help increase positive body image.  But we still need to strive to be healthy and massive obesity, which seems to be always on the rise, is not.  Again, stress needs to be out on overall health and not so much on clothes size.

I personally like WeightWatchers because I can still eat whatever I want, as long as I don’t go crazy. Tracking makes me aware of what I need to eat, what my daily goals are, and just more aware of what I’m eating overall. Also, I like that it’s not all about calories, it’s about healthy eating.  My mom recently tried a calorie based diet.  She could eat whatever she wanted so long as she didn’t go over 1500 calories a day.  She lasted about 2 months on this. This type of diet just doesn’t seem healthy to me.  Anyone on it could eat a BigMac as there only meal for the day and be within their allotted calories.  I’m sorry, but that just isn’t healthy.

On WeightWatchers I have to eat a certain amount of fruit/vegetables, dairy, and oil a day and drink a certain amount of water.  The WW app I have on my phone allows me to keep track of everything I’ve eaten and check off the boxes as I have servings of fruits/veggie/dairy/oil. It makes me more mindful of what I’m eating. I’m allowed enough points a day that I feel content. Some days I actually struggle to eat enough, and fruits and vegetables are free.  Like I said earlier, I also have less than healthy food, too.  Yesterday, for instance, I met a friend at Panera and had a Pecan Twist (delicious!).  It took 20 of my 39 daily allotted points, so I am going to go over my points for today, but that’s fine.  I’ll earn some back when I go to the gym later and I have an extra 49 weekly points that I can use.

I’m training myself to eat mostly healthy and treats in moderation.  I know for myself, I can’t be super strict in my dieting.  If I don’t allow myself to have things that I want to eat because of a diet, I just feel deprived and will go way off track eventually and it’s better for me to do everything in moderation.  There are plenty of things I can’t control or am unsure of in my life, but this is one thing I and sure of and do have control over.  I can lose weight, get healthy, do everything I want to do and gain confidence in myself .  Hopefully I can keep motivated and not give into the frustration when I’m not losing weight or gaining muscle (damn arms!) as quickly as I would like.  For anyone else who is on or is thinking of going on WeightWatchers, I’m planning to create a separate page on this blog where I will track my weight and some (I’ll try for all) of my meals.  I’m hoping making this all public will help me stay motivated.  I mean, who wants the world to know they failed?

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