“Your body hides your weight well.” I am sure many of us have heard this saying before or even told it to ourselves. While I can honestly say I’ve never been flattered enough to have been told this, I have definitely thought this on many occasions.
“I don’t look 175.”
“I don’t look 190.”
“I’m a little overweight, but I look alright for someone who’s 200+ pounds!”
The thing about this rhetoric is that it is not based on denial or deception. On the contrary, it’s based on everyday perception and perceived norms and tolerances in society.
When people see us everyday, much like we see ourselves daily, we don’t see the small changes from day to day, and thus don’t see the larger changes over time unless we happen to see pictures from a long time ago. Thus even if we are two pounds more even just two weeks later, in our eyes we appear to be the same. When we are two pounds more two more weeks later, we are still the same.
For those of us who were fit at one time or another, these “still the same” moments end up defining our weight gain. When I was 150lbs. back in the mid-90s and ended up with my hernia operation that stopped my workouts, it wasn’t probably more than a few months before I gained around 4-5 pounds. Hey, I’m not working out, taking things a bit more relaxed.. Gaining 4-5 pounds is normal! I still look the same so it hardly seems to be a big deal. You become accustomed to it and suddenly two to three more pounds finds your reaction to it the exact same. It’s strange to say, but the human mind actually perceives your body the same at say 150 pounds as it does at 200 pounds as long as enough time passed in between the two weights.
Perceived norms is also a deciding factor in this saga. Now don’t misunderstand me. I love that healthy sized adults are today’s cultural norm, and that for the most part a little more weight is more acceptable than a little underweight. The starving model look that seemed to infest our culture from the 70s through the 90s is dead and gone, replaced by a return to curves, tone, and health. Unfortunately this does lead to what “heavy” is now. Years ago at 5′ 9″, an adult male would probably be considered fat at 175-180 pounds. Not obese but definitely be made aware that they needed to lose weight. Now at 5′ 9″, I don’t think one person would question someone weighing in at that same weight and height. When I’ve recently been at that height, clothed, people thought I was crazy for wanting to lose another 20+ pounds. Heck, for most people to consider someone obese these days it seems like you need to be looking at a BMI of at least 34-35. Now the truth is that this is both good and bad. On the one hand, people that are somewhere between 10-20 pounds overweight are not leading a dangerous lifestyle and are found to look perfectly acceptable in society. It creates more confident individuals, happier people, and less stress on a daily basis. On the downside, 10-20 pounds overweight eventually becomes normal, and 20-40 pounds overweight now turns into “I could probably stand to lose 5-10 pounds”. The scale only goes up from here, both figuratively and literally.
The question is, should we change this and how do we go about it. While I do promote healthy living and being at a healthy weight, as I said earlier I love that it is ok in society to have a little bit of weight on you. It is certainly much less pressure on our kids and in our schools, and one would hope in the long run leads to lower incidents of eating disorders or incidents of “corrective surgery” at younger ages. However, with that being said, you definitely should know what your “ideal” weight is, and if you choose to keep a few pounds on your body make sure you are still maintaining a healthy weight within a reasonable range of that “ideal” weight. 10-20 pounds over your ideal weight isn’t even worth giving thought to in my opinion. However, 10-20 pounds over “10-20 pounds over” your ideal weight is mist definitely something you may want to reconsider.
With all of this being said, the number one most important aspect of any of this is for you to be happy with yourself and your body. Being unhappy with how you look or your weight can very easily lead to stress, depression, or bad choices. Whether you are losing weight or decidedly not, you need to be happy with yourself and with your current condition. If you’re not, then look at changing it, more than likely at that point in baby steps. Try to start being happy with the little progress you make and it will be easier to be happy with your self at all of the remaining steps along the way.