July 9, 2007 at 9:39 am
If I’d made a list of questions ten years ago that I thought I would never be asked, “Do you really think you need to lose any more weight?” would have been near the top. It would only be placed underneath, “What’s it like to be a world famous kazoo player?” But I now have to cross this question off my imaginary list with an imaginary pen because I have been asked it several times. It’s actually a nice question to be asked. It doesn’t induce hyperventilating like all the times people asked me what college I was going to and what I was majoring in. I take it as a compliment.
But sometimes people also say it in a way that sounds like they are trying to protect me from disappointment if I never get to goal. It’s like they’re telling me Santa might not be bringing me that My Little Pony for Christmas after all even though I sprinkled the sugar on the cookies all by myself and chose the reindeer-shaped cookie cutters over the holly-shaped ones in an effort to suck up to Rudolph. It’s nice that people are looking out for me, but I still want to get to goal for several reasons.
1) I have a perfectly reasonable goal weight
Goal weights are weird because they are basically numbers you pull out of your ass. You can check the BMI charts or try to remember how much you weighed at a time you considered yourself thin, but you’re still randomly choosing a number within a certain range. I believe there is fairly wide range of weight at which you can live a healthy lifestyle (probably at least a 30 pound swath). I picked 160 as my goal because it qualifies me as normal according to my BMI, it seemed like a number I could reach, and it ended in a zero. I could just as easily set 161 or 159 as my goal, but who does that? Back in college I set 140 as my goal weight, so setting it at 160 this time around was an act of leniency on my part and a reflection of more realistic standards.
At the beginning of the year Tyra Banks told people magazine she weighed 161 pounds after the tabloids said she looked fat in a bathing suit. She’s only an inch or two taller than me. In the months following that she lost 30 pounds. One hundred and sixty pounds – the weight at which supermodels go running for their personal trainers and tabloids call you fat. Sounds like a perfectly reasonable goal weight to me.
2) 20 pounds is not an insignificant amount of weight
I’m about 20 pounds away from goal right now, which is a trifle in comparison to the 190 that I have lost. But it’s still fairly heavy. I recently bought a 20 pound dumbbell to use in my weight training. If someone shoved it in my arms and said, “Go run 3 miles with this,” I would shove it back at them and say, “No thanks.” When I am using the dumbbell to do a back pullover I know that if I drop it I could literally smash my face in. Sweaty palms could be fatal. Some people have weight loss goals that only consist of losing 20 pounds and I’m sure anyone of them will tell you it’s a pretty significant accomplishment in itself. So even though I’m really close to my goal, I don’t think it’s any reason to stop just because I can see the finish line on the horizon.
3) I am willing to push myself farther
If I had reached a point where I was exercising 3 hours a day and counting every calorie and my weight still wouldn’t budge, it’s likely I would conclude that my body had become as slender as it wanted to become. I am not at that point yet. I’m willing to run longer and faster, lift heavier weights, and maybe one day actually do a cartwheel. If my damn leg would heal. Stupid leg.
When I was test-driving cars last year I needed to see what those babies could do. I took them all to The Big Honkin’ Hill. I first drove over The Big Honkin’ Hill during an ice storm in 2000 and was somewhat surprised I did not go sliding down its steep slope, through the stop sign and into the side of an SUV. When I took cars to The Big Honkin’ Hill, I got to see what they were made of. Similarly, I’d love to see what my body can do, how far I can push it. I want to climb the big hill and see how fast I can accelerate. I want to push it to the limit just so I know where that limit is. I’m never going to be younger than I am now and I’d like to experience all the cool things my body can do before the cartilage in my knees completely rubs itself clean away. I don’t necessarily need to weigh 160 pounds to do that, but dropping another 20 pounds will most likely make running easier and faster, just like I get better gas mileage when I’m not hauling around my 20 pound dumbbell in the trunk.
4) I like having goals.
Goals are good. Goals prevent me from sleeping in on Sunday mornings while I stare at the ceiling wondering, “What is the purpose of this thing called life? What is the point?” I need to have something to get me up in the morning that is not small and furry and batting my face demanding to be fed. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a weight loss goal, but it has to be something. Otherwise I feel directionless and start eating out of boredom. Right now several things keep me getting up in the morning and the idea of one day weighing 160 is one of them.
5) I like reaching goals
The other great thing about having goals is reaching them, especially when you’ve worked really hard for them or when people think it’s impossible. I’ve read all the articles about how dieting doesn’t work and how I’m supposedly doomed to gain back all the weight. I think that will just make it all the more awesome when I get to goal and keep it off. It’s definitely hard. That’s why it will be such a grand accomplishment. That’s why it’s worth doing. I already have 5 wisdom teeth, crossed toes, and a slightly inverted breastbone, so I am perfectly comfortable adding “long term weight-loss maintainer” to my list of medical anomalies someday.
6) Is it too much to ask that my boobs stick out farther than my belly?
Seriously, y’all, is it really that much to ask? Right now if I were to run a close race I’d have to win by my belly and not by my tits. I don’t mind the cellulite, the saggy butt, or the underarm flab, but can I please have boobs that stick out farther than my pooch?
Taking all of this into account, I don’t feel an incredible rush to get to my goal weight. I was sitting on my couch after eating too much pudding last week and thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to be at goal? Then it wouldn’t be as much of a setback when I pig out.” But upon reflection that doesn’t make much sense. The pudding won’t have less calories when I’m at goal. It will still make me gain maybe a 1/10 of a pound no matter what. It’s weight I’d have to work to lose again anyway.
I have to remind myself not to fall into that trap. Crossing through the goal posts to my goal weight doesn’t mean that this is over. It’s never over. I’m always going to have to think about what I eat and I’m always going to have to exercise. Weighing 160 pounds does not change that. So, whenever I feel a little down and mumble “Geez, why can’t I just be at goal already?!” I just remind myself that this is indeed for the rest of my life. So, it doesn’t matter that much if I get to 160 this year or next year or in five years. As long as I don’t gain back any significant amount weight, I’m cool.
Because from this point out my weight-loss really is basically about vanity and seeing what my limits are. I bet I’m healthier than a lot of people who are thinner than me. I eat lots of fruits and veggies, lean meats, and whole grains. I exercise almost daily. I floss every night. Every night, people! I don’t care if you just completed a triathlon, how healthy are your gums? The flossing is what really puts me over the top in the “I’m-healthier-than-you” competition.
I know I could live a happy and fulfilling life at 180. I could have lived a happy and fulfilling life at 220, which was the weight when I first looked in the mirror and thought, “I could live with this.” I know I could tell people that I weigh 150 right now and most of them would believe me. But I still want to get to goal. And I’m going to get there and do a ridiculous touchdown dance when I do.