Why keeping “most” of the weight off isn’t enough

Having lost a significant amount of weight a few years ago, I’ve got this tendency to feel pretty good about keeping most of it off, even if there’s been a bit of slippage at times.

“I only let myself gain so much, and then I take action,” is what I tell my sister on our runs. And it’s true. Still, a really hard thing for me to get used to in my postfat reality  is how much heavier I can look and feel carrying even 5 extra pounds. Much less 10, which is where I’m at right now.

I’ll get mad at myself every time I bump into that upper limit on my weight range, but then I’ll be like, “Well, it’s not like I’m fat, and it’s not like I’m going to let myself get fat ever again. It’s just time to get to work and cut back on my eating, that’s all.”

And that’s true as well. But there are degrees of truth, some relativity involved. Yes, even at my heaviest these days I’m still well within what passes as a “normal” weight range in America these days. Nobody would say I’m fat. But I AM overweight by those insurance companies weight chart standards, and Weight Watchers would consider me overweight as well.  If I went back to a meeting right now, I’d have to pay.

I’m certainly overweight by running standards. If I want to get a PR and try to win my age group at a couple of summer 5Ks, I need to shed at least 5 pounds. Ten would be better, and really, though I’m unlikely to work that hard to get there, 15 would be best.

But here’s the really tangible, spooky thing about how “thin” the line is these days between “normal” and “fat enough to be a health risk” – at the top end of what I’ve come to consider my “acceptable” range, I’m just a few pounds a way from a number that’s considered a risk factor for diabetes.

I’m not going to get there, because of the reasons stated earlier. But if I weren’t constantly thinking about my weight and fitness levels — about how to get better at eating and diet and running and swimming and even biking —  I could easily slide to that point.

And the scary thing is, if I hadn’t seen the CDC’s prediabetes-risk chart (check it out here), I probably wouldn’t even be that concerned, because I’d still be “keeping most of it off.”

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13 Responses to Why keeping “most” of the weight off isn’t enough

  1. This is a great article, Tanya! I agree, we tell ourselves little lies and we feel semi-OK about our weight or our numbers being “not that bad”. My weight may be in the acceptable range, but it’s still not a good idea to overtax my pancreas by eating three–or even two–pieces of pie. It really does take a lot of will and work to stay healthy.

    • tischcaylor says:

      Yes, we do tell ourselves little white lies, and we do it as a society as well. When most of the people you see are heavier than you are, you think, oh, what’s the big deal? But it is a big deal if you really care about your health.

  2. How do you define overweight for yourself? Is it the pure and undifferentiated body weight? Do you take body measurements? Do you know your body composition? The reason I am asking is that even when I was “thinnish” before the Chronic Fatigue drama, I was always in the overweight BMI scale. However, I also know after having my body composition measured that for a woman, I have an exceptionally high muscle mass and BMI and the scales obviously don’t take that into account. So you may be fighting the windmills, too. This may have to be taken into consideration on top of the occasional culinary slip which we all have. 😊

    • tischcaylor says:

      Good food for thought there, as they say. On the one hand I’m comfortable with the idea that I’ve learned how to keep my weight under a certain limit. I suppose everybody wishes they were 5 or 10 pounds lighter, and maybe I should make peace with it, especially since I carry my weight pretty well. But I do some writing for a diabetes magazine and as I learn more about that condition I was shocked to realize I’m nearly heavy enough to be at risk. It was eye opening.

      • But you are only at risk if the weight is indeed caused by body fat. If it is tissue and muscle, it’s fine. Plus, one thing my GP told me last year: As long as you life an active life, you are at no higher risk than any other normal weight person. Indeed, slightly overweight active people have been proven to be much healthier than inactive normal weight people. The thing is, we don’t know why the body wants to hold on to those last pounds. But it has a reason. And it is incredibly hard for us to respect that reason without knowing what it is. But we have to. As long as we keep on moving and do not indulge all is good.

      • tischcaylor says:

        Everything you say applies to me except for the last six words: I DO indulge! I think I like to eat too much to knock off these last few pounds, but thankfully I like to run without struggling enough to keep me from adding any more “baggage.”

      • You gotta live a little, too 😉

  3. bgddyjim says:

    Here’s how to define if you’re overweight or not (tongue in cheek version)…

    Find yourself a fair group of cyclists. Cat 4’s and 3’s work for me… Go for a ride with them. If, going up the hills, you feel slow and sluggish, and find yourself out of breath at the top, you’re overweight. On the other hand, if you are spritely and find yourself having to coast every now and again, to keep from running into the wheel ahead of you, you’re just about right.

    Never fails! LOL! Keep it up Tanya (is it okay to call you Tanya on the blog? I noticed a commenter did above. I used to go with Tisch till I read the post about your kin… Long story short, I’ve been fretting this for a long time but haven’t mentioned it).

    • tischcaylor says:

      Uh … I’ve got a fairly good idea where i’d fall on your “scale.” Love the idea, though. If I was in a runner’s club or ran more races I might have a better idea how much (or not) my weight was holding me back. Not to mention more motivation… You can call me Tanya. Funny thing about you calling me Tisch (first initial plus my “maiden” name and part of my byline in the newspaper) is the only other person who’s ever called me that is an old college friend who grew up to be a very big deal in Hollywood — Ryan Murphy, creator of “Glee” and “American Horror Story.”

      • bgddyjim says:

        I gotta tell ya, I really dug Tisch… I think it’s a REALLY cool name… And apparently, I’m in good company. 😎

        As far as where you fall in my cyclist’s self evaluation of weight, I always hated the scale, skinny or overweight. Even now, it’s not quite right… My legs probably make up more than 50% of my weight! In fact, I’ll have to be careful here in a minute – I’m going to start looking funny if my legs get any bigger.

        If I can be happy where I’m at, that’s what matters. 😜

      • tischcaylor says:

        I actually kind of liked you calling me Tisch … kinda felt like a blast from the past. OK if I start calling you Big Legs? (Just teasin’).

      • bgddyjim says:

        LOL! Big legs… Now that’s funny!

        Tisch it is.

  4. tischcaylor says:

    Cool. Now I’ve got that Rod Stewart song “Hot Legs” going through my head all morning … 🙂

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