Sunday, April 5, 2009

Why am I doing this? (A Manifesto)

196 pounds
On this, the occasion of my 39th birthday, I've decided to come clean about my weight. Until now, no one—not even my husband—has known how much I weigh. That's one of the reasons I've started this blog: I don't think that we should be ashamed of a number on a scale because I truly don't believe it has to have anything to do with how good we look, nor do I believe it has to negatively affect how we feel about ourselves. And to be perfectly honest, I still think I look good—no matter how much I weigh. I refuse, simply refuse, to believe that being curvy means I am unattractive. (And I believe that prescribing to the idea that curvy=fat is one of the reasons so many Americans struggle with their weight: people who can never be as skinny as Cameron Diaz figure that they might as well just give up and eat, eat, eat.) Do I need to lose weight in order to be healthier? Yes. Do I need to lose weight to look good or feel good about myself? Not on your life. And that's the second reason I've started this blog . . . I want more people to believe what I believe: that you don't have to be rail-thin to look beautiful

I was at a dinner party a few years ago, and one of our good friends was GOING OFF on a guy we know who had just topped 200 pounds, which said friend thought was outrageous. It had been several years since I had originally weighed that much, but I was still mortified. Mortified and angry. Sure, some men might be vastly overweight at 200 pounds, but others—especially athletic men—might be in the best shape of their lives at that weight. And what bothered me most was that it was just the number that set our friend off.  Why are we all so obsessed with numbers? Even the BMI numbers are confusing. My husband has been in great shape all of his life and works out all the time, but he has a BMI of 25, which is just on the high side of healthy. Does that mean he should lose weight? I don't know how he could. Sure, maybe he could lose five pounds, but he'd have to basically starve himself to do it. But when people see his number on the BMI chart, they automatically want to put him on a diet.

And that brings me to my third reason for this blog: I have long believed that dieting is truly bad for us and, therefore, refuse to do it. We all know that when we diet, we teach our bodies to get by on less, and then when we go back to normal, inevitably the weight comes back. I have only gone on one diet in my life because, just like everyone else, I wanted to look good on our wedding day. I was 180 pounds when I started the diet and lost thirteen pounds over eight agonizing months, bringing me down to a lean 167 (woohoo!). But it was like torture, and after we were married, I decided to try the whole listen-to-your-body approach and not weigh myself. What followed was the single worst weight gain of my life. I gained thirty-three pounds in six months. Thirty-three pounds! That makes my most recent eight pounds look like pocket change. And at that point, I swore I would never go on a diet again.

You might be thinking, how can you lose weight if you don't diet? But I know it can be done. I managed to lose twenty-five of those thirty-three pounds over the next five years. Sure, it was slow, but I enjoyed the exercise and healthy eating that was required to do it. I didn't stop eating or living as I had during my pre-wedding diet. I just learned to splurge in moderation. And, more importantly, the weight stayed off. I couldn't have been more proud of the fact that, for over eight years, the scale had either gone down or stayed the same.  That is, until the last eighteen months . . . which is a story for another day. 


  1. Good read! I love the idea of losing weight without dieting. I can never diet.
    Do you have Nourishing Traditions?
    I love that book and it has changed the way I eat. I don't eat any processed foods now and don't look at fat as bad.

    Also: In Defense of food has been influential.
    Pollan's idea is simple, "Eat real food, mainly vegetables and not too much."

    Good luck!

  2. I think it's really great that you're committing to this. A nice thing about doing it on the Internet (and with a friend for that matter) is that it forces you to be accountable.

    Are you interested in calorie logging at all? I find it helpful to keep track of how much I eat during the day, more to see that I'm eating enough throughout the day than to restrict myself. I tend to go all day without food and then binge at night.

    The Daily Plate over at has a nice food & exercise log that I swear by. It tracks your weight, too.

    Let me know if you sign up so I can add you as a friend.


  3. Thanks, Kara and Emily!

    I will definitely check out all of these sites. Love the idea of an exercise log, but I'm not sure about calorie logging. May be too much work for me, and I worry I'd start to obsess, thus turning this into a diet. But I totally agree about eating too little during the day and too much at night--that's one of my biggest problems. I don't really get hungry until dusk. I've had good luck in the past with eating little things throughout the day, though, and I'll have to blog about that soon.

  4. There's also a really great workout log here:

    I have an obnoxious number of links saved, I know. I'm like a grandmother with news clippings, only on the Internet.

  5. This is a wonderful blog. I'm a mom of two daughters and a work in progress when it comes to maintaining a healthy body image. I can't wait to check in regularly.

  6. Thanks so much, Rachel! I'm thrilled that you've checked out the blog!