Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Weigh 142 Pounds

I am guessing that 40% of the people who clicked this link did so because they are in the habit of, or enjoy reading this blog. I am guessing that another 40% clicked the link because they are interested in what I have to say about my weight. And finally I assume that 20% of the people who clicked this link did so because they automatically hate me for weighing 142 pounds and bitching about it. Then again, I am just guessing.

I am 5' 7" and I weigh 142 pounds. That is 42 pounds less than I weighed the day I gave birth to Thing 1. It is 33 pounds less than I weighed the day I gave birth to Thing 2. It is 3 pounds less than what I weighed the day I got married and 13 pounds less than I weighed a month after my mother died when I realized that I needed to stop eating to cope with my loss. It is also 7 pounds more than I weighed when I graduated from college. It is 17 pounds more than my mother always told me that she weighed. It is 21 pounds greater than the weight of my closest colleagues, which I know thanks to a work weight loss challenge. And most importantly it is 9 pounds more than I weighed at this time last year.

Why am I so preoccupied with weight, clothing size and numbers in general? I assume many of those reading are silently struggling too. How much are these emotions a part of my inability to scale the wall this time around?

In all practicality, I want to lose the 9 pounds I have gained since last year because my clothes are tight and I don't want to buy new ones. And because I felt really good about myself last summer and this year I see the difference. I didn't exercise for 10 months and it shows. The changes I have made to my diet in the last year have been good ones, but I admit, I have eaten more fat and food in general than my body probably needs. This summer has been about me playing with the amount of protein and fat in my diet. And I have discovered that I need a nice mix of animal products, meat, cheese and butter but I feel best when I am eating mostly veggies and some fruits and those fats and animal products are a support. (FYI, I am talking VOLUME here, it is likely that since vegetables are so light in calories that animal products are still supplying me with the greatest percentage of my calories. But that is a different post for a different day). I am certain I am addicted to grains, and I have steering away from them overall. I am going completely by how I feel, not what the literature says.

In order to lose the weight I have started running with a friend in the morning three days a week. I am excited to also add some simple weight exercises to support the running. While running alone is hard on the body and can lead to injury if you overdo it, getting out in the fresh air makes me happy as does running with a friend. The running makes me feel fit enough that some simple floor exercises do not seem overwhelming. I am lazy on my own, but having a friend keeps me working hard.

I have also cut back on my daily food intake by 10-15%. That's probably not enough for quick weight loss, but it's enough for me right now. Most experts believe that a reduction in calories of 300-500 calories per day is optimal for weight loss. Anymore and your body is shocked into starvation mode. In this case, more is really less. Progress has been slow, BUT the only structured diets I have ever done have been in the first year postpartum when your body is in prime fat burning mode. Losing weight now, when Thing 2 is almost 2 years old is completely different. It is slower for sure.

Eating less makes me feel lighter and sharper. Sometimes I believe that our misguided attempts to eat the same VOLUME of food while on a diet is missing the point. Just loading up on less nutrient dense foods doesn't help to shrink the stomach or address one's hunger cues, even if you lose weight from consuming less calories. Though right now I would love to switch to low fat dairy product and 'light' dressing just to shed these pounds quickly. But that isn't what's best for my health. I need really to cut back my portion sizes. Overeating is taxing on my digestive system for sure. More food just means know. And I have to assume that mere workload is the reason that I get irregular when I overeat.

Calorie restriction is a good thing when we talk about restriction within reason. The American ideal of going to extremes doesn't much help here. I mentioned that in a recent article. Incidentally, just after I began drafting this essay, Dr. Mercola published a very interesting article all about hunger, dieting and calorie restriction. Thanks for being so timely Dr. Mercola!! Too bad I can't find it to link back to. Oh well, you are going to have to trust me. However even though I am touting the benefits of calorie restriction, don't misread me. This is hard and I am hungry. And the muffins are definitely talking to me.

But I originally promised you an article that was about my struggle with the struggle, not just about losing weight in and of itself. I have known for many months that I needed to cut back, even though I was eating pretty clean. But a great debate brewed in my head. I said many things trying to sort this out. "If I am eating the right foods and I weigh 142 pounds, maybe I am just meant to be 142 pounds?" "142 pounds is still well within a healthy weight zone for a woman my height, shouldn't I just accept my weight and move on?" "But if I was meant to weigh 142 pounds, then how come I easily maintained a weight of 133 for a couple of years? What am I doing differently today?" "Why do I want to weigh 133 pounds?" "Why do I always strive for perfection? Is this drive serving me?" "If I have to give up the foods that I love or foods that are good for me, like coconut oil, is it worth being 133 pounds?" "Do I have to give up anything to lose these pounds or do I just have to eat less?" "If I have to obsessively write down the food that I eat, is it worth it to be 133 pounds?" "Was I healthy at 133 pounds?"

I don't have answers for any of those questions. And I think each of us have different answers leading to find a different ideal weight. I keep coming back to the idea that I felt better when I eat less, not when I eat differently, just less. I own the same oversized dinner plates that most Americans do. I know my sense of portion is skewed. And although it is a drag to measure and write down everything I eat, I know me and that is what I need to do to lose weight. I simply can't justify not putting forth the effort. I know that if I can readjust my portions I don't have to give up everything I love.

But do you know what has made this time around so hard? I have had a really hard time saying no. Take last weekend for example. After a whole week of smaller portions and drinking less wine I let loose Friday night with some girlfriends and ordered barbeque Saturday night with a dear family. By Sunday I ate everything in sight. I couldn't say no to beer, potato chips or additional slices of pizza. All the self control that I had just a year ago has vanished.

To date I have lost one pound. But I am exercising and I definitely feel better. But I have made little to no progress on eating less. I am highly discouraged.

So how is that for a post? I have many questions and no answers. Where I used to feel like weight loss was a simple recipe of eating the right foods and eating less while exercising, now I am experiencing it as a complex web of emotional and health related issues. Maybe Weight Watchers worked for me because it kept me accountable? Maybe WW was like my running partner, who would be sad if I just stopped going downstairs at 5:15am. I don't know. In the mean time I am working toward the goal, and staying focused and picking myself up when I fall off the wagon. Maybe next week I will squeeze off one more pound. Anything would be good. I am in need of some progress to keep me going.

This post is shared with Simple Lives Thursdays and Fight Back Fridays and Traditional Tuesdays


  1. Its all a matter of perspective. My husband, when I married him, weight a soaking wet 140 lbs at 6'2". A few years later he reach a perfectly normal BMI and a weight of 180 and he felt fat. He did not have an ounce of fat on him but he felt like he was carrying a lot of extra. After that he gained an additional 20lbs but it snuck up on him and he didn't feel it as much as the initial 40 he gained to reach his normal weight. My point is that his perspective was of a man who was very thin and it changed his perception of himself when he gained even to a normal weight. On the other hand, I've always been on the heavy side so as my weight fluctuates I barely notice it unless my clothes don't fit.
    142 at 5'7", at least from what I found online, is your healthy weight. If you can, you might try adjusting your focus from your weight to just simply being healthier (which I know from your blog is already a focus for you). Ditch the scale, it sounds like that might be the most unhealthy thing you own right now. I wouldn't worry about the number 133, but rather how do you feel

  2. You and I are in a very similar place right now, with one big exception- I am not currently in the healthy weight range for my height. I'm only 5'4, and a healthy weight for me (if you go by BMI) is 140. I'm about 15 pounds away from that. And while I totally understand the feeling of not liking the way your clothes fit, I am also a proponent of accepting the changes in one's body as we age. You've had two kids. You're not in your twenties anymore. Yes, there are people (and we hate them) who can pop out a kid and maintain a size 2 until they're in their 50's. But it takes a LOT of work. And like me, you spend a lot of time thinking about food, weight, and how to optimize both of those things. My point is that once I reach a "healthy" BMI, I'm done. I have no desire to continue to cut things that give me pleasure and joy out of my diet (like the occasional BBQ, bag of chips, or second beer). Just my 2 cents!

  3. I seriously could have written this myself! I did WW right after each kid and both times lost a good amount of weight. I never reached goal, but at this point where I was two years ago would be better than where I am now! One thing I was able to find out last year was that I have a thyroid problem (specifically I have something called Hashimoto's thyroiditis). But even with the new pills I still struggle to lose. I go back and forth between "am I really supposed to weigh this much since it won't come off?" and "this is so not a healthy weight, it NEEDS to come off!". I know I need to be more accountable for how much I'm eating, but I have such an aversion to tracking my food because it makes me feel food obsessed (but I also don't konw how to stop when I'm done!). I hope to figure this out soon cause I'm tired of being 5'3" and 170lbs!

  4. I also agree with the "as we get older comment" At 32 I know it's going to be harder for me to lose and maintain a lower weight (I would love to be 125, but I think realisticily if I can get to 135 I would be ecstatic!).

  5. I think, that since you mentioned you don't feel as good as you did, then you should watch your portions. Even if you are eating super quality food, too much of it will make you gain weight because quantity does matter as much as quality if we're talking about numbers. But I know you and I know you won't go overboard. You'll maybe put a little less on each plate you serve yourself and the pounds will melt away over time and you'll feel right again. But I do have to agree with the Liz about the age thing. You mihgt not get back down to the same number as before...and that has to be ok. If you feel you are eating reasonable amounts of high quality food and you feel good and sleep well and have energy, but the scale reads 139, well then the scale reads 139 and so be it. It has to be about how you feel, not about the number itself. But I know you already know this.

  6. as someone who is also 5'7" I find 142 unfathomable (I have been over 150 since I can remember and am currently over 200) and yes, I'm a little annoyed (since you asked) at your complaining about your weight. :)

    but we all have our own struggles. If you are unhappy at your weight, that is your decision. You are still healthy at 142, and frankly a lot of research is coming out saying it is healthier to carry a few extra pounds, but if you are miserable about it, then it isn't healthy for you is it?

    A few years ago I decided to do something about the excess weight, mostly because it was interfering with life. Getting on an airplane was no fun nor was sitting in chairs with arms. I restricted calories and lost 70lbs, and my body finally rebelled. It is shutting down. I'm cold all the time, it is hoarding calories like the worst hoarder you've ever seen on one of those hoarding shows. I'm tired, cold, miserable and gaining weight despite eating less calories then I expend. I'm spending thousands of dollars on tests and supplements to find out what is going on with my body so we can fix it

    so basically what I'm saying, is be careful. It is NOT all about calories. if you don't give your body what it does need it will not continue to support you.

  7. I second the recommendation to toss out the scale. Exercising is good and may make some changes to your body that don't show on the scale. But, if you're hungry, really hungry, not mouth or emotionally hungry, it's possible you're not eating enough food when your body needs it. It might take rearranging the food you eat, especially on the days you run in the morning (I find that I need a certain amount of food at a particular interval after exercising but it took a while to figure that out). Or it might take some tweaking of your diet. I go from working at home to working on a work site on a completely different schedule and back and I always need to rearrange my food with every switch. I eat about the same amount of food or, at least, in the same proportion with my physical activity but I eat it on an entirely different schedule, both in terms of time and quantity, at home than at the work site.

  8. I think you should listen to your body, and throw out the rest as much as possible. Go for feeling good! You've spent a lot of time getting in tune with your body and how different foods make you feel. If you are not happy with how you are feeling with the way you are eating now, make a change. But if you are not happy because of a number - forget about the guilt, and move on!

    Good luck!

  9. This glimpse into your thought process was extremely entertaining and hit very close to home. Like you, I am 5'7" and weigh 142. exactly. My goal weight has been 133 for the past 4 years. I weighed 122 when I got prego with my first baby. It was a little too skinny for me, but I maintained 133 perfectly after that. However, after my next two kids, I have rarely seen the 130's. My diet shift from "diet" foods to organic, natural foods haven't help shrink my waistline either.

    I think you have to be realistic. Yeah, 133 sounds great. But honestly, maintaining somewhere in the 130s is great to me. I am in great shape and definitely have more muscle now from running than I ever have. I think you hit the nail on the head. It's all about portion size. I know my brain is tricked into thinking I need to eat until I feel stuffed at every meal. I can easily eat the same portions my hubby of 6'2" and 200 lbs. That is crazy!! And although a treat is nice, it's NOT okay to throw caution to the wind and continue with junk food the rest of the day!! Thank you for your honesty!! It's refreshing!

  10. I shared in your struggle. You seem pretty clear on the fact that you need to do something about your portion sizes.

    Try reading "Mindless Eating" by Barry Wansink. It's a scientific treatise on the factors that make us eat past "satisfied." That book finally got me to switch to lunch plates. And it makes it clear that it's not *just* your conscious willpower that you need to reckon with: it's also environmental factors (such as smaller plates and eating pace, which you can control) that spur your urge to ignore your fullness cues.

    And yeah, some people make fun of my eating off lunch plates at dinner (and appetizer plates at restaurants). But they tend to be the same people who complement me on my 6lb weight loss. (My BMI is 18.5, so that's a meaningful 6lbs-- "the last" 6lbs, if you will)

  11. Thanks so much for all the great feedback. A couple things to clarify:

    *I don't actually own a scale. I know my weight only because a month ago I got weighed at two seperate doctor's offices and during this at work 'weight loss challenge'. I was SHOCKED that I had gained 9 pounds. I knew my clothes were tight, but I thought I had gained 5 pounds max.

    *I liked the comment about getting older. I do need to accept myself getting older. I look in the mirror sometimes and it is hard for my to believe I am 32. I still feel like I am 15, just with alot more responsibilities. In our youth obsessed culture it is easy to forget that we do have to accept ourselves getting older.

    *I queston the heat too. Perhaps part of why I feel so much heavier (and full) right now is because of the heat. Just thinking...

    Thanks so much for all of your kind comments. I want to write more about how "real food" didn't really help me lose weight. I ought to look at the research in what is a healthy weight. I mean, 9 pounds is 9 pounds right? It isn't like I keep gaining like as if I was pounding down jjunk food. Thansk guys!

  12. You are going somewhere. Keep going!

    Following your lovely blog. I am also inviting you to visit where you can add your blog ( ), express yourself, and meet and be seen with more mom bloggers.
    Thanks and have a great day!

    Olah Momma!

  13. I just found this entry. Typically I lurk on people's blogs, but this entry really struck home. Why? Well, I'm 5'6" and for the last few years weighed 143. I try to eat clean, like you, and eat whole fat foods rather than sugar-free/fat-free/fake things. I work out 6-7 days a week. But I was tired of the way I felt and looked.

    Over the last 10-12 weeks I've lost @8-10 lbs and hit my goal weight. Not weighing myself had stopped working for me. Not tracking my food had stopped working for me. So, I started weighing myself weekly and tracking my food intake. In a few different places I've read/heard that your body is the result of this formula: 10% genetics, 10% exercise, 80% diet. SO TRUE. Specifically, I made a conscious effort to eat fewer carbs --not just eating whole wheat bread or pasta, but not eating bread of any kind, or crackers, chips, cookies, etc.; hard to resist the pasta, but I eat less of it, and when I'm really conscientious, I measure my portion-- and more protein (bring on the steak!).

    I've also been doing some serious strength training, but that has more to do with liking my body to look very muscular, which I realize isn't a goal for a lot of women.

    This is a hell of a lot of work. I don't mean to give the impression that it's not! And I have to remember that this is a way of life now. Because the crummy thing? I did this exact thing 2 years ago, got to the body shape/size I like, and got complacent-- and put it all on again. So for me, to maintain means keeping up this particular way of eating and exercising instead of thinking about it as a temporary change (aka "diet").

    Okay, long post from a complete stranger; I'm sorry. This isn't meant to be advice and it's certainly not meant to be "I can do it, so you can" which can come across as so obnoxious. I just identified so strongly with your post. Good luck to you.

    P.S. Oh yeah, and a pound a week? IS AWESOME PROGRESS. That means you're losing the stuff you actually want to stay off, not just water which will come back the next time you add too much salt to your broccoli.