Inevitably, whenever we set out to do something new, hopes and expectations arise. My weight loss journey was no different. Of course, I had lots of silly little superficial teen rom-com type hopes – the ugly ducking turning into a swan, mercilessly rebuffing the men who had rejected me out of hand in the past – the kinds of expectations, as it turns out, whose realities are strictly confined to Rachel Leigh Cook characters and spools of celluloid film. I also formed notions of what my body would and could become, had ideas for the changes I’d like to see – but they were limited, reigned-in. I felt just getting from a size 24 to a size 12 would be good enough. After all, that is a significant change. Having settled most of my life – on jobs that didn’t challenge me and relationships with people who didn’t deserve me – I set myself up years in advance to accept mediocre results. I settled for both literally and figuratively sitting and watching as life passed me by. I convinced myself that observing was the next best thing to participating. I can’t honestly think of a single situation in which settling has improved the quality of my life.
It would be easy to settle on my weight loss goals and expectations. I think it’s common to assume an obese person may lose weight, but they will never be a fit person. The best we can hope for is to be an average-sized, possibly slightly overweight body. Someone who is 15-20 pounds overweight can be expected to lose the weight and have a slim, athletic physique but, for some reason, a person 150-200 pounds overweight is rarely held to the same expectations. I bought into this belief, too. I had written myself off as heavily framed. From the very start of this process until recently, I was content to accept always being a bit chubby. Here I am now, a size 12 and suddenly I am questioning everything.
I was not a large child. In fact, I was quite the opposite. I was a lanky, spindly child with long lean limbs and knobby knees and elbows – the quintessential bean pole. Tall as I may have been for my age, I always had a delicate frame. The women in my family are all slender-framed women. Why, then, had I for so long settled on the idea that I am the family’s big-boned anomaly? Having this epiphany of sorts, I started researching body fat percentages and healthy weight ranges for women of my height and age regardless of weight histories. I pulled high school algebra from the dark, cobwebbed recesses of my brain and made calculations – what would my weight be at the average body fat percentage for women (25-31%)? What would be my weight be at fitness level (21-24%)? Is average good enough?
I find myself now, for the first time, unwilling to settle. As I pulled and sorted all my size 14 and 16 pants for the Goodwill this past weekend, I realized what I wanted. I have worked myself to exhaustion in the gym; I am deeply dedicated to a healthy, wholesome diet. What I truly want is not to be a size 12. What I want is to be the best possible version of myself, the most physically fit, athletic and vibrant version of myself. I want to be what I would have been had I never gained the weight in the first place. And, finally, I am starting to see that isn’t asking for too much. I was willing to fight for the now 107.5 pounds I have already lost. Now I know I have the mettle to fight for body composition of 21% body fat and 38 more pounds lost. While the naysayers may discourage me, tell me if I lose another 40 pounds “there will be nothing left,” I know differently. I know what 5’10” and 21% body fat should look like. I will have the gumption to not be complacent. Good enough may be good enough for others but it simply isn’t good enough for me anymore.