November 07, 2003

what goal?

JMS asked some important questions in her comment on my last post, so I thought Iíd address them here.

She asked:

I'm also curious/concerned when you say you're not done yet. What are you aiming for? You've already dropped half a size, right? Lots of women would gnash their teeth in envy to fit into a 6 but you claim you're not satisfied. What, exactly, are your personal goals? What are your criteria?

First, I donít actually consider myself a real size six yet. I canít fit into six waist-high jeans, for instance. Iím still a definite size eight there. And I know sizes differ in various stores, too. It was still a pleasant shock, though!

Iíve dropped a total of three or four sizes, according to the Gap jeans department. Itís kind of weird, though, because Iíve only lost 22 lbs and youíd think Iíd only have lost two sizes, but these things are screwy and unpredictable.

Okay, Iím avoiding the bigger question, which is what goal Iím aiming for and implicitly if my body image will prevent me from stopping at a reasonable point. I do wonder if Iíll really see the full effect in the mirror when I get there, or if my brain will trick me into seeing fat thatís no longer there, like feeling a phantom limb. Phantom fat. But I do have some objective measures, too. Mainly, I want to have a BMI of 22 or 23. I know Weight Watchers considers anything between 20 (or is it 19?) and 25 to be healthy, but Iíve read elsewhere that 22 and below is optimum for health. And I can see it: my blood pressure has dropped from 120/80 to 120/70 already but it used to be more like 110/65 and I suspect thatís better. (Note to self: look that up, know for sure.) A BMI of 22 would put me around 122 lbs. Iím 145 lbs right now.

Also, I want to fit into my wedding dress. I looked pretty good around the time I got married (I was 29 years old, so Iím not going for a teenage body here), and definitely not too slim at 135 lbs. Thatís another ten pounds down from here. I may want to lose more when I get there, I may not. Iím leaving it open. I was 125 lbs in my early 20ís and I know I wasnít too skinny then either (though I was positively gaunt at age 18 when I was 114 lbs). So Iíll lose another ten or twenty pounds, definitely not thirty. My ultimate goal is to find a weight I can comfortably maintain the rest of my life and that allows me to enjoy my body and, yes, other peopleís reactions to my body too.

I see women on TV and in real life (there are an awful lot of them in LA) who I find too skinny. Women should have curves. We should have asses and tits and arms that have some meat and muscle. We should have hips that are more than concave pelvic bones. We should have ribcages covered by a warming layer, not ribs that show through lycra tops. Itís especially unattractive to be too slim when you hit 40 and beyond: your neck starts to look all tendony and odd and your face shows age faster and more completely. Weíre not meant to be muscle and bone, weíre meant to have flesh too. Iím not heading toward the anorexic, heroin-chic look, never fear. Will I be able to see myself objectively enough to know when to stop? I think so, though I canít know for sure. I look at myself now and I see someone who looks a hell of a lot better than when I started in July, but who still has a bit too much padding here and there and, well, just about everywhere. If I stopped now, besides not being at my ideal BMI, Iíd be annoyed with my mirror. And I want to love my mirror. And yes, Iím allowing for whatever bumps and lumps inevitably remain on my not-surgically-altered lived-in body. I look at pictures of me at my wedding and my body isnít so well toned (Iím in better shape now) but my face looks perfect to my eyes.

And I have a fail-safe in case I get carried away: If I canít tell when itís time to stop, I suspect Dan will tell me. He, too, dislikes ultra-skinny women.

Itís an interesting and difficult question, when to stop losing weight. I donít know the final answer for myself. I only know Iím not there yet.

Posted by Tamar at November 7, 2003 02:21 PM

I'm really confused on the sizing nowadays. I remember (way back when) when I weighed 145 lbs. and was nowhere near a size 6. The smallest I could ever wear was probably a 10 (if that)--mostly I wore 12. Even when I was down to a much-too-skinny 115, I don't think I ever wore a 6.

Do you know what would account for that?

Congratulations on your weight loss, though. I'm convinced that you will know when to stop--from reading you for a couple of years I know you have a good head on your shoulders.

Posted by: Renate at November 7, 2003 03:24 PM

I find a Gap six to be a 6 other places. It seems like there is inconsistant sizing because it is an ego thing. The more expensive the designer, the more likely you are to fit into a smaller size.

Are you able to exercise?I started doing Pilates when I was at a weight I liked. I didn't lose anymore weight, but tightened up considerably and lost a whole size.

Posted by: rose at November 8, 2003 07:32 AM

My experience (as someone whose weight has varied wildly over the years) is that sizes correlate very directly to the cost of the item. My kickback, Easy Fit size 10 jeans fit me: so do the size 5 pants I bought on sale at a chi-chi boutique in the East Village and the size 4 Liz Claibornes from Macy's. The marketers know women want to feel small (and . Why else would they have invented size O?

Posted by: Chris L. at November 8, 2003 03:55 PM

Thanks for addressing my comments publicly! I'm glad you didn't feel I was being too nosy or trying to pry.

FWIW, I'm 118lbs, 5'7", BMI 19, size 2-6 depending on the store. And partly I was curious because you were talking about my size but still wanting to lose more weight. If I professed the same desire, my doctor, partner, and family would be very worried, especially since I've been anorexic in the past and am currently living with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. So your post really triggered some of my own personal panic buttons...

Posted by: jms at November 10, 2003 10:06 AM