Settle? Or Mettle?

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?

The author as a string bean.
The author as a string bean.

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.

One thought on “Settle? Or Mettle?

  1. I too believe I come from ‘big boned’ family, which is true (a dietician has told me my frame is on the med-large side), but it’s no excuse for the fat that was enveloping my bones. And I see as the weight comes off, my shoulders and chest don’t look as wide as I thought they were naturally. My boobs are smaller, etc. So these are all excuses we hide behind.

    I am so happy for you to have set your goals and have this body that you aspire to have…I am not there yet where I can picture it, but to be reading a blog like yours and seeing how far you go (no pressure…ha ha) will inspire me when I eventually get to that point…inspire me to get to that point.

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