I read a recent article in Women’s Health magazine about the psychology of weight lose. Written from a first person point of view it explored the authors feelings about her own weight lose and how reaching her goal weight wasn’t the end of her issues with body image and food.
I found the article really helpful in clarifying my own thoughts and reassessing what I really mean when I say I want to lose weight. I’ll be honest – my main driver is vanity, I want to have a smooth curvy body not the lumpy pillowy-ness I see now. Next is health, as I get older I am much more conscious of how I breath, which parts of me ache and twinge. And finally a desire to avoid cancer (my dad died of bowel cancer) and heart disease (grandfather died of a heart attack). It doesn’t really matter what I weigh, I don’t need to be a size 10, what matters is how healthy I am.
When I’ve lost weight before I’ve managed it through diet alone. Changing what I eat, losing some weight, going back to old habits, feeling guilty as weight has gone back on and then giving up until I decide to go on another diet and the cycle starts again. I feel good when I’m at a lower weight, I like being told I look good in a slim fitting dress but I can’t seem to stay there. It was only when I took up cycling six months ago that these thoughts started to change. My weight went down a little but my body changed shape. The toning is doing so much more for my self esteem than the number on the scales. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t still obsessively weigh myself and feel guilty if the scales move in the wrong direction, but I can feel a mental change happening.
Additionally, when I’ve slimmed down before my goal was always to reach a target weight then get back to normal. I never really appreciated that I needed a new normal, I couldn’t just return to my pre-weight loss lifestyle without regaining all the weight. That is why I am focusing on exercise in addition to diet. Burn more calories to allow me to consume more calories. It helps that I’ve found some exercise that I enjoy.
I’m not going to tell you what I weigh. My weight is very personal – I don’t even like to say the number to my husband. I can talk about my BMI, my fat %, my bone density but my weight is for me only. Clearly, I haven’t addressed all my hangups.
My BMI is 29.6. This puts me at the very top of the overweight range, or pre-obese as I don’t like to call it. According to the obesity stats used in a House of Commons briefing published Jan 2021*, 36% of British adults fall into this category. Which probably explains why I don’t think I look out of place, my perception of my size being influenced by what I see around me. A further 28% of adults have a BMI which puts them in the obese range. Thats nearly two thirds of adults weighing enough to impact their health to some degree. I know that BMI has its flaws and there are people who will argue until they a blue in the face that you shouldn’t use it but I’m not an athlete or bodybuilder so it can be a useful guide. Funnily enough the people I know that argue hardest that BMI is not a good measure of health tend to be people carrying extra weight – make of that what you will.
I have body composition scales which give me a whole gamut of information about the state of my body. And this gives me a whole different bunch of numbers to focus on instead of my weight.
My body is 42.5% fat. This makes me obese – unlike my BMI which merely makes me overweight (gee, this may be getting into territory I’m not very comfortable with. Ah, well. I’ve started now.). A woman of my age would ideally have a body fat % between 23 and 33.
My scale gives me a reading for subcutaneous fat and visceral fat so I get a little more insight into what type of fat I have. Visceral fat is the fat in your abdominal cavity and it is the presence of high levels of this type of fat that can indicate an increased risk of all those obesity related diseases; type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. My VF reading is 10 – the VF scale is a 0-59 point scale where anything below 13 is considered within the normal range. So, although I carry a lot of fat most of it is the blubbery outside type, like most British women.
My muscle mass is on the low side. This is given as an absolute, I’m not going to share the actual number. This is no surprise given my body fat percentage and as I lose fat and exercise this should correct.
My bone mass is excellent – yay! I thank my mother for giving me good genes.
My protein levels are 11.1%, which is low. Ideally this should be above 14%. General advice seems to be that to increase this I need to eat more protein. Okay, that’s something I can address moving forward.
All of this together gives me a Body Age of 51! Yikes! I’m still the other side of 50 so I need to do some work.
I have a “Transformation” page where I log all my metrics (https://scottylikescake.com/transformation/). This is password protected because I wasn’t prepared to share this with the whole world yet, if you want to take a look drop me a note and I’ll share.
*The House of Commons briefing on obesity can be found here: https://bit.ly/39fZJnG