Rethinking the Finish Line

(I know this is long, but this is the edited version. Bear with me.)

Ever since that fateful day in January of 2008 when I decided to lose weight, my goal has been to lose 100 pounds. A weight loss of 100 pounds would put me at 161, about the weight that I was at my lowest during my senior year of high school. I liked the idea of losing 100 pounds, I liked the idea of going back to that weight that I had only experienced for a short amount of time before college life and the freshman fifteen (or twenty) caught up to me. I also figured that if I were 161, then I could be in a size 12, a size I have always aspired to. I never considered losing less than 100 pounds. After all, according to BMI charts, even that goal weight was technically still “overweight” for my height, so how could I stop if I weighed more than that?

Fast forward 18 months, and I have lost 72 pounds. I have to admit that the slow rate of weight loss I have experienced, especially since 2009 began, has frustrated me. I tend to lose 1.2-1.6 pounds in a good week. And whereas in the first year I averaged about a 5 pound weight loss each month, now I’m fortunate to lose 3 pounds in a month.

All of this serves to preface the thoughts I’ve been having lately. I’m not so sure anymore that losing 100 pounds is going to happen. Nor am I sure that I want it to happen. And the reason for that is a change in perspective. I have to confess that while healthy concerns were a motivating factor for my wanting to shed the excess pounds, more than that I just wanted to be able to buy clothes in a smaller size and feel better about my body. I was sick of shopping in postage-stamp-sized plus size sections, sick of being embarrassed to go shopping with friends who were smaller than I, sick of not being able to shop clearance racks. And weight loss was the way to fix that problem. So I set out on my journey.

Well, I’m no longer plus-sized. I haven’t shopped at Lane Bryant in months, and I’ve moved out of the plus size sections in other stores. I still don’t have much luck at clearance racks, but I’m okay with that because I have so many more options now. But I’ve come to realize that what’s even more important than the clothes is my health. If I want to live a long and healthy life with my husband, I had to lose the weight to prevent myself from developing diabetes (which runs in my family) or high blood pressure or heart disease and the myriad other problems that are connected to being obese or overweight. I know I’m not even guaranteed tomorrow, but I also know that I want to do all I can to ensure that I am a good steward with the body I have been given, and a life of soda and junk food, apathy and laziness, wasn’t cutting it. My goals now are more about cultivating healthy habits, like exercising and eating right, and less about clothes.

So if my goal is to be healthy, haven’t I achieved that? My blood pressure is excellent, as is my blood sugar. The only lingering problem I’m working on is my cholesterol, which is borderline high. I exercise 5-6 days a week, and most of those days I love it. I work on limiting my food portions and choosing healthy foods. I drink 64-80 ounces of water a day. I educate myself about health and wellness. Is this not healthy?

Ultimately, it seems that the reason I want to get to that goal weight is more about vanity than health. Since starting, I’ve had my sights set on being a size 12, but what is so magical about that number? For a lot of people that number is still too high! For me it represents something I never quite attained (even at 160 in high school I was mostly a size 14), but maybe I wasn’t meant to attain it. What if I did get to 161 and wasn’t a size 12? Would I be a failure? Of course not! So what if I don’t get to 161 at all? What if I get to 175? Am I a failure? I suppose that depends on how you look at things. If I were to measure success solely by achieving my original goal, then yes, I would be a failure. But if I measure success based on all the good changes that have taken place over the last 18 months, I’ve already won!

I guess what I’m trying to figure out is if I really and truly would be happy where I am or maybe 10 pounds lighter, or if I am only thinking this way because I am tired of thinking about losing weight and would like to be maintaining. How much of my desire to make it to 100 pounds lost is about pride? What if I don’t get there? What will people think? What will you, my readers, think? What will I think? Will I find the same pride in saying I have lost 75 pounds or 82 pounds or whatever? I honestly don’t know. That certainly doesn’t sound as good as 100. And yet as a Christian I can’t escape the nagging thought that I shouldn’t even care what others think as long as I’m pleasing God, and so my ultimate goal should be to do all things for His glory.

I don’t want this to sound like I’m giving up or that I’m going to go crazy and eat whatever I want and stop exercising. I want to keep up the habits I’ve established, but I’m not sure about that 100 pounds anymore.

If you’ve made it this far, bless you. And if you have any words of wisdom for me, I’d be more than happy to read them.

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8 thoughts on “Rethinking the Finish Line

  1. I totally understand! I can't decided if I want to be 160 because it's my “healthy weight” or vanity or because I don't want to be seen as a “quitter”. If health was really my goal, then I should stop at 170, because my doctor said I'm perfectly healthy in all departments. For me, 160 = Size 10. Why do I feel the overwhelming need to be size 10? I'm a loose size 12 right now. Why can't I be content with what I am: very healthy and slighlty plump. Why do feel unhealthy at 170? Is being 160 really doing to make me “feel” better then I do now? Why do we link our contement to a pant size? I don't know….
    Most of these questions started when I began reading that book The Obesity Myth by Paul Campos. Such is the danger in learning and reading, I suppose…

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  2. I think anyone who is fighting this fight understands what you're saying. Maybe you should talk to your doc about what a healthy weight is for you in order to keep those unhealthy future options at bay. Personally I want to be in a healthy BMI for my weight range because my mom had breast cancer and an overweight or obese BMI correlates with that. But if your doc thinks that you can live a healthy life at your weight with the choices you've made, then it shouldn't be all about that size 12. I wish I could be more help, but you'll figure it out and make your goals accordingly. You obviously know what you're doing since you have lost an amazing 72 pounds!

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  3. I am in awe of all that you have accomplished!! You don't need to worry about we (all your faithful readers) or anyone else will think. We're all proud of you, even if you stopped right now.

    I think you'd be surprised how many people support you in this.

    You do what you know is best for your health, your happiness, and the glory of God.

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  4. Hi, Erin. . . I recently stumbled onto your blog. I was intrigued immediately because we are exactly the same weight and size, and, judging by your post today, we are struggling with the same questions. I recently had my third baby and am down 23 pounds since getting serious in April about losing. I am hovering in the lower 180's (I'm 5'6″) and my original goal was 154 (the top “healthy” number for my range), but I have also been doing some rethinking.

    I really want to make my goals about anything other than the scale. Recently I did a 6-week personal training program and my goal was 10 “real” push-ups (On the toes). I made it just this past Tuesday! That, to me, feels so much better than any number on a scale ever could.

    So, maybe we need to focus on other goals that have nothing to do with number, but more about how we feel physically, how we are spending our time (exercising vs. being lazy), how we are connecting with friends and family. I am finding it freeing to *try* to not be so scale-obsessed.

    Thanks for your blog. I think it's a neat connection that we are in a similar place in our journey. Good luck and I will say a prayer for you and your goal re-evaluation!

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  5. I read your post this morning but haven't commented yet because I wasn't ready. I still haven't figured out the words that are floating in my head but just know that this is part of the process. As you work towards your original goal, its perfectly normal to re-evaluate things, where you are, where your going, how your getting there, etc. If you realize now, as you get closer to your original goal, that your goal should change, it's not giving up, its living, learning & recognizing that you may now know something you didn't back then. You are doing great Erin!!

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  6. Don't worry about what others think. You've made such an improvement on your life. You've changed your life for the better. So what if you never make it to 100. It doesn't make what you've done any less impressive or meaningful. You have to be happy with yourself.
    Sometimes we hit a plateau and we can't go any further. (I think I'm there now). Maybe you can focus on maintaining your weight now and then if you start to lose more then that's great. If not, you're doing so well by maintaining which is by far the hardest thing to do!!!
    I still haven't made it to my goal weight, but so what. I am happy with the way I look now and I still try to exercise and eat right. I may never get there, but I already lost 30 pounds.
    You're amazing and an inspiration!! And you did all of THIS without surgery!!!

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  7. If you decide that you want to maintain rather than losing more weight, how can that even be considered quitting? Like you said, you arent going back to your old habits no matter what – that would be quitting!

    I think you should talk to your doctor (like others have suggested). I know for Jim, cholesterol and blood pressure will always be a problem because of his genetics – no matter what. Would losing a few more pounds help your cholesterol? What has the weightloss done for it so far?

    Of course, no matter what you decide now, you can always form new goals later. If you decide to maintain now, you can always try to lose more weight later. Deciding to maintain for a while doesnt mean you cant ever lose that weight. You always have that choice!

    No matter what you decide is right for you, I am always impressed by your committment and your honesty in sharing.

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  8. You are doing amazing things for so many people who read your blog. Some of them are on the journey with you and some, like me, need to get there and feel encouragement by what you type.

    I appreciate the things you write here. 🙂 Best of luck, friend, in the weeks and months ahead. You are inspiring many people.

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