Guest Post from Jen
I felt inspired to guest blog after reading a post from Kiki on the EM2WL Facebook page last week. The subject was the scale, goal weight and BMI charts. The overall question was: what if I’m at the size I want and feel good at, but I’m still not at a “healthy weight” per the BMI chart and geez! What will my doctor say?
My comment was:
My doctor doesn't live MY life. Or yours. We see our docs, on average, once a year. I live my life for me. My doc is someone I HIRE to assist me in monitoring my health. Body fat lower, LBM higher. Check! BP in range. Check! Lipids in optimal range. Check check! Blood Glucose good. Check! Active lifestyle! Check! Healthy food choices. Check! Looking and feeling in my 30s when I'm kissing 50. Double check! Rockin size 8 jeans with a firm bod that can do what I need it to do functionally and turn heads of 30 yr olds? Triple check. BMI chart says I'm obese? okie dokie. Being 238 lbs. and couldn't check off many of those checks 2 years ago while hoping to squeeze into size 18s? FAIL. Will take my new lifestyle, my new health, my new rockin bod and will use the BMI chart as a nifty guide for the average person. I don't strive to be AVERAGE. Do you?? I go for BAMtastic!
To take this thought a bit further, what is your GOAL? What is healthy to you? I challenge you. It can’t simply be a NUMBER. What is it? The scale is something that is very traditionally used to measure our bodies and gauge “healthy.” I certainly know I grew up with the scale as something I dreaded, feared and loathed. Looking back, I know it held me hostage in many ways. If I didn’t see a number on it that was “acceptable”, it discouraged me and was actually a roadblock. Some years I didn’t adhere to my preventative health exams because, straight up – I didn’t want to be weighed and be judged. As I’ve educated myself more, and yes, gotten a bit wiser with age – I now understand that body weight and body composition are two very different things. I didn’t know a thing about the concept of body composition and certainly didn’t have any idea how to get there. All I knew was: I wanted to weigh 145 pounds. I wanted that because it was a weight that was at the upper end of the BMI chart for my height. It was a number that sounded acceptable, sounded not FAT. In my adult life, I achieved it once. I weighed 135 pounds for about 45 minutes when I was 17. Closest I came after that was 160-165. I do remember that I wore size 10 jeans when I was 135 and size 12 when I was in the 160s. The 160s weight lasted for about a year in the 1990s. By 1998, I was at my highest weight (238) and I basically stayed there until 2011. I had short episodes of weight loss during 2001 – 2011, but always ended back up at 238.
Body composition. I finally GOT IT. Obesity is the condition of having more subcutaneous fat than lean body mass. Obesity. Too much fat. Not enough lean body mass. Chronic health conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease are strongly correlated with obesity. Having too much FAT. More fat than lean body mass. It’s not just about how you look. It’s about health. Health is more than a number on a scale. It’s about your body composition. It’s about what you eat, and it’s about your activity level. It’s about how you feel – inside and out. It took me years of struggling and many many hours, days, weeks, and months of studying, reading and doing to finally have it CLICK. It took me finally picking up a barbell at age 47 and eating for health, eating to fuel my workouts, eating and working out to make me feel less stressed, more energized for it all to come together. Seeing with my own eyes what I’ve accomplished. I’m NOT a special snowflake. I’m a REAL woman who is knocking on the door of 50. A real woman who has been fat most of her life. I’m now very passionate about educating others. Sharing my story. Sharing what I’ve learned and continue to learn about our bodies. Sharing to perhaps spare others from some of the angst I’ve had in battling the scale, my fat, my relationship with food.
I’m happier and feel better about my body than I ever have. I’m SMALLER than I’ve ever been. I feel TOTALLY in control of my eating and my weight. I’m still tweaking my body composition. At this stage of the game (and yes, it’s a game, it’s a journey) it is more important for me to maintain my weight and my body composition than to aggressively chase after a lower weight and lower body fat percentage. To chase after it “just because.” Aggressively chasing a lower number on the scale, the measuring tape or the calipers would jeopardize, for me, my progress. I’m extremely happy where I am. I’m competitive with myself, so yes, I want more. More definition. More sleekness. I will have it. I will have it by continuing to eat well and train for body composition and always with my eye on overall health. That includes my emotional health and my enjoyment of LIFE.
I’ll share a picture of me at my highest weight and a picture of me that I took a couple of weeks ago. 56 lbs. separates the two versions of Jen. Body composition is the difference maker. I wear size 8 jeans and medium tops. Oh. The BMI chart? I’m right on the edge of overweight and obese on the chart. I don’t think most folks would immediately think OBESE when they meet me. STILL … It nags at that competitive side of me. I want to have that “perfect” score, that A+. Unless I fall victim to some horrendous wasting disease, I won’t be getting that “perfect” BMI chart score. And you know what? I’m OK with that. What flipped that switch for me is this: I like my body, I like what I see in the mirror and how I feel every day. If I’d step on the scale and see 145 I’d be all giddy. Nothing would have changed expect that NUMBER. Why let the NUMBER I do see take that away from me? I refuse to let it. I will still be striving for my very best. My BAMtastic.