I think I was about 15 when a doctor first told me I was “severely overweight”. I was wearing a size 13 or 15 at the time. I remember looking in the mirror and being pretty happy with my body. But then, how could I be severely overweight? Was I fatter than I thought I was? Did I have body dysmorphic disorder or something? I knew I was what I would have called “pleasantly plump” but I had no idea I was a fat cow!
Thus began my screwed up relationship with my body. Over the years, the numbers taunted me. I would feel good about myself, then the scale would tell me I weighed 200 pounds or the BMI chart would tell me I was obese. Or a doctor would tell me I was MORBIDLY obese. The numbers humiliated me. And there was always this broken relationship between the way I felt and the way the numbers said I should feel.
The worst thing I have ever done to myself was to starve myself into losing over 100 pounds. I kept going, even though people told me I looked thin enough, or even too thin. But I didn’t believe them because the numbers still said I was fat. I go into this in more detail in this post:
Those numbers have done me so much harm in my life and it was all for nothing.
You see, I am 5’8″ tall and I am currently a size 14. About the same size I was the first time a doctor told me I was severely overweight and I dieted and binged my way to actual obesity. Who knows what would have happened if that doctor had taken the time to look at me as a unique human being, not just a number.
According to the BMI chart, my current weight of 193 pounds puts me just out of the “obese” category and in the “overweight” category. But I don’t FEEL overweight! I feel great. I run. I look good in clothes. I’m healthy. So what’s up with that BMI number? Why do I have to feel like I’m not “fit” enough? After 17 years of dealing with questioning my own feelings in the face of these numbers, I finally have an answer.
I had a body fat test done and it came out to 24.3% or “Fit”. According to this test, I have 150 pounds of lean body mass. That means that if I get to the upper limit of my “ideal weight” as stated by the BMI chart of 165 pounds, which I have in the past, I will be “underweight”. No wonder everyone said I looked too thin. I actually was. If I got to the lower end of the “ideal weight” range of 125, I would be dead.
These new numbers actually coincide with how I feel. I can finally stop trying to fit the square peg into the round hole. I have found the square hole at last.
My “ideal weight” is 180 pounds, at which point I will be a size 12. Though I have been thinner in the past, I have never been happy with my weight because I thought because of the numbers I was still fat. But I was never fat until I doubted myself and started resenting my body. It could have all been avoided if I could have trusted myself.
Never judge yourself based on a number. We are all made differently. Once chart will never work for everyone. Don’t ever let a number tell you how to feel.