Thursday, February 16, 2012

Perceptions from others on our weight loss

So, there was a gal on the weight loss site I frequent who I think looks great, but now there are people who are worrying about her getting too thin. When I look at her picture, I see someone at a healthy weight.

How ironic that just yesterday, my very critical mother in law who lives with us also worried that I was going to get too thin when I said I wanted to lose about 15 more pounds. Um... I weight 174 pounds. There is no way that 15 more pounds is going to make me too thin for my height!

So, what is this? I think it's that the people around us have gotten very used to us being very overweight and seeing us at a more normal weight freaks them out a bit. That, and I think that we have gotten so fat as a nation that we don't realize what an ideal weight looks like any more. We are more accepting of people who have more fat on their frames than we have in the past. And lastly, we are bombarded with messages about eating disorders so that we look for them even when they are not there. (Is it a coincidence that eating disorders are at a record high when as a nation we are at record levels of fatness? I don't think so!)

My mother in law fits in the first category. She has known me as overweight the entire time she's known me. She thought I was too fat when my husband and I got married when I was hovering around 185-190 and she was none too quiet about her thoughts either. On this weight loss journey she has said I look perfect from about 195 downwards. And she doesn't understand why I would want to lose more. For her, at my age (42) and with being a mother of 2 kids, I now have an acceptable body. Sure, I'm not thin, but I look the norm for my age and that's what I should strive for - not to be too thin or too fat. Plus, she worries I will look too old if I lose too much weight (showing more wrinkles). For her, it's all about how I look and not so much about how I feel or being healthy/fit. As she has always worried about her looks and not about her fitness.

And that leads to the second thing, we are more accepting of extra weight more now than ever.  When I weighed what I weigh now - back when I was 17 or so, I had a hard time finding clothes. The only place I could find clothes was in women's sections as teen sizes were too small for me. I remember in high school when I could no longer shop at Casual Corner, my favorite store at the mall. Their larges size was a 13. I needed a 15. Now almost all mall stores have sizes that go up to 16 or higher and that size 16 was a 19/20 back in the late 80s. People are bigger, so there are more options for clothes and with so many people wearing those upper sizes, we have grown accustomed to seeing all those fuller figures, so when people are normal weight, we think they are too thin. Especialy if they are normal weight and fit.

Lastly, we worry about eating disorders. We are bombarded with messages about eating disorders. We all know about anorexia and bulimia and binge eating. We worry about it with our teens if they are thin or seem to eat too little. And since so many of us who were really overweight had binge eating issues or compulsive eating issues, we already had one type of eating disorders, so maybe we just traded it in for another. Maybe we are compulsive exercisers now, or obsessive in some other way. And while that does happen to some people who are dropping weight, it's not a given that it is happening. Exercising daily and watching how much we eat should be the norm, not seen as a compulsion or a problem.

For me, I had to laugh at my mother in law's worries. She's slightly worried that at 160 I'll be too thin. Good grief. Even on the BMI charts, I'll just be scraping into the normal weight range for my height. And, that's what I'll talk about tomorrow - how to determine what our ideal weight should be when we have to guess!

Stats for 2/16/12:

Highest weight: 275  Now: 174.0
Total hours exercised in 2012: 34/250

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