Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Leave it to Mom

Okay, the idea that I'm going to write about my actual weight is making me want to barf, but here goes.

So, for the last few weeks I've been pretty faithfully visiting the gym. I haven't noticed any major difference in my body but that's okay; I know it takes time and consistency and maybe a few less Cokes than I'm currently pounding daily. And, even absent any body changes I feel better -- more energetic and I'm sleeping better. I was feeling good about doing something regularly, like I was at least on the road to developing a healthy habit. Up to this point, my exercise routine has been extremely sporadic -- I'd spend a few weeks exercising regularly, and then stop and not do anything for a year. Or, I'd go to the gym once a week and the rest of the week eat at McDonald's twice a day. It's a wonder I'm not molecularly fused to my couch. I mostly relied on the kids to keep me active, which works fine in your 20's, but less so as time goes by.

Anyway, early Sunday morning we stopped at my Mom's to pick up the kids -- she had them over the night before as usual -- and while we were talking, Hannah pulled out my mom's scale to show me she knew how to "wave" herself. Hannah waves 32 pounds, for the record. Then Hannah asked my mom to step on it. My 4'10", 4'11" Mom is 125 pounds -- in fact, she's recently lost quite a bit of weight by quitting drinking. And then Mom directed me to get on the scale. Hm. No thanks. I don't weigh myself, generally. The only time I find out what I weigh is when I go to the doctor's office, which usually sets off one of the panicky week-long gym-going spurts. All I know is that it keeps going up, goddamnit, even when my pants still seem to fit fine.

So I laughed and said, "Uh, no thanks." And she said, "Why not? What do you weigh, like 150 pounds?" Which, for the record, is 20-25 pounds more than I think is a good weight for 5'6" me. Not the bony 105 pounds of my teenage years, but the relatively trim but curvy shape of my mid-late twenties. I replied, "I hope not." But Hannah pulled me over to hop on, so I did -- 143 pounds. Ugh. I wished I hadn't looked. Mom hustled over and said, "I wasn't far off. Haven't you been going to the gym, though?" I replied that I had, and I must have sounded bummed out, because only then did she say, "Well...I don't think you look fat..." and changed the subject.

Honestly, I'm not deeply unhappy with my body as it is -- the overall shape is pleasant, I just feel like I have a half-inch-thick layer of fat over the whole thing and I'd like to get rid of it. But for some reason, having a number attached to me is discouraging. If I felt totally content with my body at 143 pounds, I don't think it would matter what the number was. Ultimately it winds up being a way to compare myself unfavorably with others. And, let's say I get down to 126 pounds? Am I going to drive myself nuts trying to lose one more pound? I don't know. Goal weights seem like a bad idea for me. I'm more driven by the idea of, say, not having back fat, or as a friend calls it, back cleavage. Or of maybe my jugs going down a cup size so shirts don't gape open at the chest and flap loose at the waist. Or -- OR -- dressing to flatter the parts of my body I do like, instead of worrying more about camouflaging the parts I don't. It's not a big deal, but I just wish I could un-know.

On the bright side, going to the gym frequently has allowed me to document the number of days one television's closed captioning has been stuck on the same two lines of dialogue (26 days and counting) from, I'm guessing, a soap opera. It's more entertaining to watch adult diaper commercials when the old folks in them appear to be saying, "Oh take off your shirt." "Take mine."


  1. It probably won't help you to know this, but you're within the healthy weight range for your height, using BMI as a measurement.

    I feel like I'm WAY too focused on my weight number (currently like 136 at 5'4" since we're sharing) sometimes. I tend to ignore all those other factors like, oh, how I feel strong and energetic. So I know what you mean.

  2. You know, for a long time I think I was too focused on a number. Now, I haven't given up trying to hit that number; but, I'm not driving myself crazy. I gained about ten pounds over the past year, and I'd like to take them off, but really, what is going to change when I hit that magical number? I'm going to be hyper-focused on trying to keep near that number. I don't like that Me. So, while I would like to drop about fifteen pounds, I'm not going to freak out about it. While I was working, there was no way I could have made time for exercise, given Dave's random work schedule. Now it is a little more possible, and I plan to.
    Hey, so I'm 180 at 5'8. I want to hit 165-ish. Far cry from the 260 I was, but still not quite there.

  3. Hey Steph -- thanks...I mean, it's good to know that I'm not officially overweight but it's definitely higher up in that range than I'd like it to be.

    On the plus side, numbers make all this stuff more real and thus more urgent, and that can be both good and bad.

  4. Gingy, that's exactly it: what's going to change when I hit the magic number? How much effort should I put into getting to a number over just feeling good and getting healthier?

  5. At last weigh-in, I was at 154 at your same height-ish. I like myself best anywhere between 135-145, but for right now, all I know is that I've been slacking and I've got a 5K to run at the end of April. So that's my goal for now.

    It's remarkably how easy it is to forget the good feeling of exercising but how easy it is to remember the good feeling of eating potato chips. Brain, you're a weirdo.