In my journey towards better health, it’s been a real struggle to keep the weight down…and then constant. But honestly I learned awhile ago, it’s not really about the exact number of pounds, but more about if I can still fit into my pants comfortably, and if I feel fit. By the way, I still go by that rule. 🙂
I’ve never fallen into the recommended guidelines for ideal weight and height. Even as a high schooler, I’ve always been heavy. But I was skin and bones back then. No one could ever guess my weight correctly. Even back then, people said I must have heavy bones ‘or something.’ But in reality, I think I had heavy muscle mass. Everybody is built differently and those standard guidelines? Even my doctors told me not to pay too much attention to the numbers. In this age of eating disorders and self image issues, I promised myself I would not get wrapped into this. I just needed to be healthy.
With age and especially after having kids (I had twins and then some), I was definitely overweight. It’s not just the numbers this time (I was over 200 pounds) but I felt awful, couldn’t do sit-ups, never mind planks nor jumping jacks, and had trouble going up stairs. That was my low point. Yes, after having kids, it’s normal to gain weight and have a different body in general, but I was far from healthy. I developed gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Before then, that was never an issue. I should mention that I was relatively fit before pregnancy, exercised frequently, and ran a 12k (San Francisco’s Bay To Breakers) without much effort. So it was a very humbling experience and coming back from that was a huge struggle. It still is. Especially if you have a hearty appetite and sweet tooth like I do!
But luckily, I managed to come back. No more diabetes and no more high blood pressure. I’m no health expert but I learned quickly that eating healthy in moderation was absolutely key and workouts are awesome. And I workout most days now, mostly because I like to exercise in general, but also because I promised myself I would never go back to that low point if I had a choice. I would fight diabetes and high blood pressure off as long as possible if I could! In general, I do 2 kickboxing classes, 1 circuit sport class, 2 spinning classes, 1 weight class, and run between 10-15 miles a week (I’m training for a marathon so it’s a bit higher now). And I hike on my days off from the gym. I’m not at my ‘optimal’ weight on paper and I know I never will be, but I am probably in the best shape I’ve ever been, and more toned too. I’ve also thrown out my size 14-16 pants and traded them in for size 6-8s. But it’s not about the numbers right?
Or so I thought. This was a body composition analysis done about a year ago, for free at a health fair. By the way, I’m no longer the weight I was (I’m heavier but maybe more muscular now? :0) so I blocked the weight above out as “N/A.”Numbers don’t matter anyway right? It was fun looking at how many pounds was in each arm, each leg, but the most enlightening number for me was the percent body fat.
I walked in thinking my weight was starting to creep up again, so let’s see where I stand on my muscle/fat percentage. So it turns out, the BMI is ok…at 22.8. But that never had much meaning for me. However, the percent body fat is 14.6. According to body fat guidelines for women, I was told that body fat of 15% is basically athlete level, which I was surprised to find! I felt fit but I’m not an athlete! I’m just a busy mom that just happens to like exercising and hiking. I had a personal trainer at the time and although I had set weight loss as a goal, he looked at my report and put me on a high protein, higher calorie diet! Based on my workout routine, and calories I took in, he said that because I was at a relatively low body fat percentage, the amount I was eating was not enough, and if I were to continue, my performance was going to suffer, and worst yet, my muscle mass would atrophy.
So what a surprise! Numbers did matter in this case, and to my favor. It would explain why I was always hungry and feeling fatigued faster during workout. I knew I was gaining muscle because I outgrew my skinny jeans (won’t fit over my quads :0), but I never imagined that I wasn’t eating enough!
My lesson? Never look at numbers alone. Always consider my own body fat percentage, eating habits, daily workout needs, how I feel, and then reassess, with the help of a doctor and someone trained (since I don’t understand all the numbers and know the newest research out there).
It’s still a real struggle for me. It always will be. Especially with age and busy routines/stress. But at least next time I look at my weight I will take it with a grain of salt. Eat healthy, exercise, and live well. And maybe I’ll have to go get another body fat analysis at some point…just for fun.
Thanks for following along with me!