Q&A Wednesday: Is This The Size My Body Wants Me To Be? | A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss

Q&A Wednesday: Is This The Size My Body Wants Me To Be?

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From the BGG2WL Fan Page:

Q: I finally reached my numeric goal..You know the one you dream about. Problem is my body does not look like I thought it would. Even though I’m loving my new shape/body It took me over a month 2 loose the last 3lbs. I made a new goal for myself 2 be fit & fabulous at whatever weight. Just wondering how can you tell if you’re body is saying..”OKay Enough..This where I’m supposed 2 be”?

I have an answer, but I think it’d call for a lot of explaining.

For starters, I remember when I first started out and the first thing I said was “If I could get down to a size 16, I’ll be happy.” I thought that size 16 would mean that my body would look the way I envisioned a size 16 would look. I thought it’d mean I had a flat tummy, big thighs and the booty of a thoroughbred race horse. What I didn’t take into stock was the fact that my body chose to lose the way it wanted, which meant that my loss pattern didn’t reflect my “fantasy.” What I also didn’t take into stock was that my size 16 didn’t quite look as small as I thought it did.

I didn’t realize that the body I wanted was, essentially, far more fit than I was at my size 16, which meant I had to hustle to pick up some weights. Hell, for a while, I was lifting my daughter – then, age 2 – as a weight. (Between me and you, that’s how I taught her how to count!) I didn’t realize what that arbitrary number meant, and I didn’t know that the size would guarantee me nothing, especially considering the fact that there isn’t even a standard for what a size 16 measures across clothing stores.

When I talk about ignoring the numbers, I’m a huge proponent of that because I learned it the hard way. When I was 330lbs, I couldn’t see myself smaller than 250 and swore I’d be happy there simply because I didn’t even remember what my body looked like at that size… I just knew that I’d be smaller, and anything smaller than where I was was good enough for me. Besides, losing 80lbs felt like such a difficult task, that asking for more felt like asking the moon to bring me a slice of cheese.

Reaching my goals was awesome, but it was still perplexing (and, I won’t lie, a little disappointing) to know that my goal number didn’t, in fact, bring me my goal body. So, when I say the numbers shouldn’t matter as much, that’s a big part of why. They can’t guarantee you the body you want. I could be a size six and still be flabby in the tummy area with sagging arms, or I could be a fit size six with a much stronger build. So, first… let the numbers go.

Secondly, I always say this but I feel like no one hears me – it is much easier to lose weight in the beginning of your journey than it is near the end. Furthermore, the more the weight you have to lose in the beginning, the faster it will come off in the beginning. Why? Because the further away from “your normal BMI*” you are, the more the “unnecessary” weight you’re carrying, and the more likely it is that you’re eating more food than your body actually needs in order to maintain that weight.

Take my body, for instance. At age 24, 6′ and 330lbs, if I wanted to maintain that 330lb weight, I’d have to eat 3,009 calories a day on average. At 174lbs? You only need 2248. That’s almost an 800 calorie difference. Per day. It’s easy to create a caloric difference in the beginning if, barring any extraneous issues (like, say, emotional eating?), you’re 100+lbs away from where you want to be.

However. If you’re 170 and want to get down to 160? It’s a caloric difference of, like, 100 calories. It takes hustle and burn and all kinds of other sweaty verbs that I don’t like to use outside of the gym. So, to me, it makes sense that those 3lbs took everything you had. The smaller you’re trying to go, the harder you have to work and the less you have to eat. A person who weighs 100lbs (and wants to maintain it) eats considerably less than someone who weighs 120 and wants to maintain it.

Not only that, but you also have to consider that as you lose weight, the amount of calories burned doing any given exercise is going to shrink. A person jogging at 175lbs is going to burn considerably more than a person jogging at 145lbs. They’ve got 30 more pounds that they’ve got to manage in activity! So, if you’re going from 175 down to 145 and you’re doing the same activity for the same time period, you’re going to notice a slow down and experience a struggle. It’s going to feel difficult. It’s supposed to feel that way. I haven’t even gotten to the fact that if you’re building muscle too, you’ll have to continue your muscle development routine forever in order to maintain your strength gains.

I bring all of this up to say, those dream bodies don’t come easily. Having those dream bodies are different from simply being fit, and thereby require a-whole-nother level of effort. So, do I think the body has a “settling point” where it says “enough?” No, but I think our minds do; and I think we have a personal limit regarding how much effort we think we should have to put forth, how much food we should have to not eat and how much we are willing to change to get there. And if, for you, that tells you that you need to go harder in the paint, then get down to business. If, for someone else, that means setting a point where you tap out, then get-to-tappin’. Only you can decide what’s best for you, and as long as your health is in the forefront of your mind, you’re bound to be better for it.

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes health, fitness, nutrition, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She now lives in New York with her family, and is working on her 4th, 5th and 6th certificates.

23 Comments

  1. TLS

    August 3, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    Great question and response/post. Although I am a little discouraged because I am only 28 lbs down with about another 75 or so to lose I know it is going to get harder. Is it ever easy? I am not looking forward to things getting harder but I am pushong myself like I havenever before and find that a lot of it is in my head. Like when I am out running and telling meself I am tired or need to stop and I psych myself up or focus on the beautiful scenery and I et it done, and feel great for doing it. Mind over matter is my new thing. Are there any specific tips on finding ways to create those deficits needed to continue the weight loss? Like the 100, 200, or 400 calories that may need to be decreased.

    • Erika Nicole Kendall

      August 3, 2011 at 10:17 AM

      Honestly, I don’t think it should be looked at in terms of “easy” or not, because being active is a necessary part of life. I think it becomes “easy” once you accept it as a part of your life. Like, you don’t even think about it. You just get up and go, lol.

      • TLS

        August 3, 2011 at 10:35 AM

        Thanks Erica. That is what I am trying to do, make the activity apart of me and what I am working to become, which is more fit. That way it will be easier for me because it will be who I am.

        • Avieona

          August 3, 2011 at 5:44 PM

          I think this article is definitely what I needed to read today. So far I have lost 50pounds with a personal trainer, and it has been difficult to lose beyond that point on my own. I am constantly trying to count calories and eat clean, but still my weight loss progress is slower now. I guess my only concern is how often you are suppose to do cardio to not decrease your muscle growth, but hopefully I can find more tips on this blog.

      • Char

        September 14, 2011 at 6:13 PM

        I have a question, I recently started working out and I’ve been doing Zumba cardio, although it is an excellent workout when I’m done with the work out I almost instantly have a Massive Pounding headache! Is this normal and what can be causing this?

        • Erika Nicole Kendall

          September 14, 2011 at 7:16 PM

          Dehydration is the first thing that comes to mind. Are you drinking enough water before, during and after your workout?

        • Allie

          February 1, 2012 at 5:13 PM

          That actually happens to me. I find that if I’m tensing up I get headaches. Make sure you relax! Before and afterwards I jump up and down and wiggle all my arms and legs and shake out the tension. Really helped get rid of my post-workout headaches!

      • Tara Melissa

        November 9, 2011 at 3:22 PM

        I think the best way to think of it as “easy” is to do it in a way you enjoy. When I wanted to get healthier after gaining the dreaded “freshman 15″, I started forcing myself to run in the gym. I hate running. It was miserable, I was miserable, and I wasn’t seeing much success (possibly because I could hardly make myself go).

        But when I do things like zumba or kickboxing, I’m so into the activity itself that I’m not, say, groaning at the idea of doing an additional pushup or running another lap. I don’t realize how much of a workout I’ve gotten until I’m soaked in sweat, physically exhausted with that nice buzz you get from good exercise.

        Another thing I’ve found is that meditation REALLY helped me with repetitive exercise. As above, I’d be the person who was this close to giving up when an instructor yelled, “five more lunges!” but meditation helps me to clear my mind and focus on the physical action rather than how little I want to do it.

  2. NinaG

    August 3, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    Yes I gave up on numbers in a way too. Last fall, I decided to gain weight – I was counting calories and weighing myself non-stop. Then I gave it up and decided to just focus on healthy eating and fitness. Its definitely less pressure on myself and I have moved towards my original weight goal (based on my last doctor’s appointment).

  3. Cami

    August 3, 2011 at 4:38 PM

    I loved reading this because, like you, I have a “image” of what I think I will look like @ a certain weight. I still have so far to go. I have lost 39 pounds and still have 76 more to go. I am determined to get the weight off and be fit and fabulous!!! My workout this morning was such a challenge for me but I have it set in my mind that I am going to continue to push through. I thinks what you told the pp is so true this lifestlye becomes “easy” once we accept it as a way of life. That is what I am seeking a true lifestyle change.

  4. Kerrie C.

    August 3, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    I have realized that I was so caught up with the losing part of my goal that I was not reaping the rewards from all my hard work. I think once you start on the weight loss journey (i know for me) that you almost become somewhat obsessed with exercise, calories, portion control, Clean eating (cooking/prepping) & when you are approaching your goal & achieve it you now have to switch to the next gear-maintaining. I feel like i’m at that point & I know that I HAVE to continue to exercise, eat clean & continue to use portion control & read labels forever there is no other way. I’m also still mentally/emotionally dealing with the fact I am no longer the heavier version of me & that I DO look different. Weight loss for me has been eye-opening & life changing. Every time I see Serena Williams on the beach rockin’ her fit body w/legs & glutes to die for….FORGET tapping out I’m going “HARD IN THE PAINT”! Thanks so much Erika for answering my question & for all you do & provide! Love your meal plans..Keep em” coming!! :)

  5. Melinda

    August 3, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    Would you recommend not to look at a number at all? I just started my journey two days ago. Of course I’m not looking at the scale day to day but every two weeks when I change my exercise routine. I am currently 200 lbs. and I want to get back to my weight 2 years ago of 145 lbs. I was leaner and more toned at that weight. But my husband keeps making me feel discourage because he tells me not to look at a number but at how my body looks. For me, I know I want to be 150, or less, because I know that I was in shape and that weight allower me to participate in the sports I wanted to be in. So is it okay at all to look at the numbers, or atleast to set a goal number in mind to keep track of calories and such? Thank You

  6. binks

    August 4, 2011 at 1:36 AM

    Amen on this article, I needed to hear this myself. It is hard to re-program myself with each step to getting to my ideal because like the poster I had an image of what I wanted my body to look like at such and such size and the ideal isn’t meeting the reality. So now I’ am just open to the fact of seeing what my body can do and cross one mile stone at a time when it comes to this journey

  7. NickNickNicke

    August 31, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    Ericka if i ever meet u in person ur getting a hug and thats final! Lol i was where you were and bigger im actually at that size 16 and it was my goal im like uh no i need more. I was giving up but your right ive been doing the same thing and some . Its time to amp it up and take my one or two pounds a week even though i was use to 5-7lbs a week.

    • DeLaunte Crawford

      September 14, 2011 at 9:49 PM

      I pray for 1-2 pounds a week. Lol! I was 212 now 187 with 27 more to go. I’m dropping and holding one at a time.

  8. Allie

    February 1, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    You really had me laughing with this one today! When you said that you taught you daughter to count using her as a lift, I couldn’t help but giggle. I did the same thing with my son! He still loves to count with mommy, though now I have primarily moved on to heavier barbells.

    And thanks for being so honest about this. So often we are afraid to mention just how hard it really is because we don’t want to discourage ourselves or others. But the fact of the matter is, it is so hard! If you told me a few months ago that I would lift weights and ride my bike every day I would have cried. Forget laughing I would have just cried at how hard that sounded. But today I’m able to ride my bike for 15 minutes(when I started I almost threw up after 2 minutes!) and I can lift 20 pounds of weights. I have so far to go, but I know that I have already come so far! Thanks again!

  9. Deidrinelle

    June 13, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    Erika,

    This was an awesome read!

    Ladies,
    Don’t forget to pat yourselves on the back for the accomplishments you’ve made so far!

    http://media-cache-ec8.pinterest.com/upload/60306082480792167_j7WAfqom.jpg

  10. Mrs. B

    August 23, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    I’ve been suffering with a thyroid problem since the late 90′s. I know what I look like at a certain weight because I have tons of pictures to prove it LOL. I’m 5’9 and I’ve gone from a size 10(185lbs) to a size 18-20 (235 lbs) over the years. Now I am 215 and struggling to get back down to my comfort zone of 185. It takes me working out 4-5 times a week for 1 hour and a calorie intake of 1200 per day(3 meals and 2-3 snacks). My 14′s have just started to get baggy after starting this journey in January…gave up a few times but this time I have to keep moving! Tired of doctors writing me off when they learn I have a thyroid problem…basically they say we have the hardest journey with hypothyroidism.

  11. Kami

    January 6, 2013 at 10:21 AM

    It has been over a year that I found an form of exercise that I like to do. I found yoga and some strength training. My goal is to lose about thirty two pounds. I made goals like clean eating. I just started this journey in December from scratch. Sometimes I feel doomed but I know I can do it. I am not sure what a maintanable weight is for me. Right now, I am 5.5 3/4 and 160 pounds. My body fat is now 30% but I would like it to come down. This article is encouraging to me. Hopefully, I will reach my goals or close to it. I had a question would you reccomend making a goal chart for yourself.

  12. Laura

    June 26, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    Love this! I’ve definitely hit this “question mark” point along my path. The questions I now ask BACK to myself, to your point about doing some real introspective reflection about boundaries and health, are:

    1) Are you doing what you need and want to be doing, in terms of leading a healthy life? Are you getting regular physical activity, eating clean and balanced foodstuffs, sleeping, managing stress?

    2) If yes, how does your body feel? Why are you even asking the question of “when should I stop” – where is that coming from? Is it because it’s hard? Because you’re seeing something that makes you think losing more weight would be problematic (e.g., ribs sticking out, not feeling well, etc.)?

    3) What information do I have outside of my own thoughts and perceptions? This might not be helpful for everyone, but for me, my mom is someone who has been WHOLLY supportive of my efforts to get healthy, so it really gave me pause when she said “… Are you sure you need to lose more weight?” Same thing with looking at pics of myself over time, and thinking about times in my life when I WAS optimally fit. We don’t always see ourselves objectively during these transition periods when our bodies are changing rapidly (and our minds/hearts are working to catch up), so it’s helpful to step outside your own head when you can.

    What I ultimately found at my “question mark” point (where my hip and rib bones were actually noticeable – and yet my dimpled thighs were still… my dimpled thighs) is that I had managed to push myself super-hard on the “lose the pounds” front without addressing the muscle-building/body SHAPE issues that were actually bothering me. Why? Well, frankly, that was harder for me and took more discipline than walking a lot and managing what I ate. It sucked to admit that, but it forced me to realize that the body I wanted was gonna take more work – and I could take it, or leave it.

    I also realized that once I actually get toned and build muscle, I may well go UP a pants size as things shift around – and that’s OK!! I’ll take a fit, rounded, one-size-up booty to go, please… LOL!

  13. Stacy

    June 27, 2013 at 12:01 AM

    This question is quite pertinent to my current situation. I’ve lost about 60lbs overall and I currently at a healthy weight but in my mind I sorta still feel fat so for the past week or so I’ve been doubling up my cardio. Yesterday I went to the gym and later that afternoon I went for a walk/run. When I got home I noticed some spotting on my underwear. This morning the spotting increased. I’m wondering if I’m working out too hard and my body is saying “enough already!!!” What do you think?

  14. Karen

    December 4, 2013 at 10:06 PM

    Great post! I am trying to ignore the scale — somewhat — and go with the way my clothes fit. I am a MUCH slimmer 140 than I was when I wasn’t as muscular. Same weight compacted in a smaller area. :-D
    BUT… I am still aiming for 135. Once I make it, if it feels too skinny for me, I know I’ll gain back easily enough!

  15. Kenya

    December 4, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    When can I fire my trainer? I mean I go 1x a wk for &180 a month

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