Q: How has your height had an impact in your journey? I started my journey about 2 years ago at 372 lbs. I’m 6’3 and now, 245. Doctors have told me that a healthy weight and overall goal for me should be 150-185lbs. I’ve had my body fat tested through hydrostatic testing and of that 245lbs, 170 of it is pure muscle. It’s really confusing to formulate an “end” goal with all of this information. The one thing I know is that at the end of this, I just want to be fit and healthy and the weight itself doesn’t matter so much.
A: I think both of these questions are related because they refer to how weight lays on (and falls off) the body.
To put things bluntly, the larger you are… the harder it will be for you to see weight fall off the body. People who have hundreds of pounds to lose can easily lose 30lbs and not see it at all. Conversely, they can also gain 20lbs and not notice it all – though they might feel it mildly – because there’s already so much weight being managed by the body, you don’t notice it.
When it comes to people who are overweight by 100 or more pounds, I feel like there’s a point where you stop looking at yourself and judging your appearance in regards to your weight. At least, I did. I’d become used to not looking at myself and judging my body regarding my weight – which might’ve been good for my self-esteem, but obviously wasn’t beneficial in regards to my weight management and preventing myself from gaining even more – so I’d lost a good 80lbs before I’d noticed any change, and that was only because I decided to hold on to my progress dress. In my mind, I was simply fat, and any time I’d look in the mirror to assess myself, all I’d see was fat… so there was no reason to bother assessing myself, anymore. While some people may want to call that some reverse form of body dysmorphia, I simply accept that it was my own subconscious trying to protect myself from the disappointment of acknowleding what I couldn’t control at that time.
That being said, each body carries weight differently. A woman could be 300lbs and carry the bulk of her fat in her tummy, her thighs, her hips, none of those or all of those. Because everyone tends to carry all of their weight in a specific spot, it can be hard to see the minor victories. (Keep in mind, this is why I talk about simply putting your faith in the fact that you’re doing the right thing, regardless of whether or not you see success anywhere.) And at the same time, the smaller you become, the easier it is for you to notice a pound or two coming or going. I can look in the mirror, now, and know when my cycle is approaching. Why? Because I gain, what looks like, about six pounds. Joyful, joyful.
This brings me to the second question. I’m six feet tall. 160lbs on me looks far different than 160lbs on a 5’0″ person. Naomi Campbell, pictured above, at 5’11” and 123lbs will look mad different from the 4’11” woman who weighs 123lbs. Furthermore, a 170lb 5’5″ woman with 18% body fat looks VERY different from a 170lb 5’5″ woman with 28% body fat. It just… there’s no comparison. One’s built like a figure competitor, the other… isn’t.
Bodies carry numbers differently, and the more numbers you include in your assumptions, the wider the variation. Height, weight, body fat percentage, hip-to-waist ratio, bust measurement, ring size, neck measurement, calf measurement, how many Heartbeats there were at the end of the movie… all these numbers will make a difference. That’s also why the “healthy weight range” is relative to your height. What’s “healthy” for me at six feet tall is different from what’s healthy from someone at 5’8, and that’s different from what’s “healthy” at 5’2″. (As a side note, this is why I’m always amazed by people who make statements like “I won’t date someone who weighs more than 150,” because if a woman weighs 150 and is 5’2″, she’s not going to look the way they’re probably envisioning… thereby showing me how foolish, unknowledgeable and, probably, unfit they are.)
This is why I simply say that the numbers don’t matter… especially if, after you’ve got all the numbers you want, you still don’t look the way you’d like to look. That’s the real kicker. A number won’t guarantee that you’ll look the way you want, because the numbers don’t define the look, especially if you’re only going by weight – which can include everything from how much water you’re retaining to the stuff you haven’t pooped out, yet – and height.
I know that our society clings to the numbers because, when we speak of weight management, we report pounds lost… but I do believe it’s okay to pull ourselves back from that, now. I mean, sure, keep tabs on it but know that, because those numbers don’t give us anything, there are far more valuable markers of progress to keep an eye on… if you must keep an eye on something. After all, we’re supposed to be putting our faith in fitness, right?