Well, this is one thing that anyone starting any weight loss plan wants to decide. We ask questions to ourselves about the end goal, the target figure, the dream weight. Where do I want to be? Where should I be? What is healthy? What weight would I be at my dream clothes size? How much does my friend weigh? What is a normal BMI? How much do I need to lose to buy clothes in a high street shop not online? When will people stop pointing me out and considering me as “fat”? When will I feel more confident?
If you are reading this with a wish to lose weight or having started a weight loss journey I can pretty much guarantee that these questions are all familiar to you! We may all be different but we all have a dream of why we want to lose weight and how we want to be at the end of it! One thing I have learnt since starting this journey to losing 10 stone in weight is that if, like me, you have always been obese, it is hard to imagine yourself anything other than overweight, uncomfortable and self conscious. The weight, clothes size, BMI or image you wish to be is a dream, something you cant imagine reaching, something you can not picture, and something you truly don’t believe you will achieve. Why would you believe you can achieve it if you never have before? The answer to this shouldn’t be why would you be able to achieve it, but actually why shouldn’t you?
So, initially I chose my target as 13 stone, I remember being 13 stone in the first year of secondary school so aged around 12. When I was asked my target weight for some reason that is what popped into my head! A few months down the line I changed my mind and changed it to 11 stone! The reason I decided on 11 stone was it sat nicely in the middle of a “healthy” bmi range for my height! I am five foot ten inches. Towards the end of my journey I changed my target again this time up to 12 stone because I was nearing this and felt that my body didn’t need to lose that much more. This decision was also influenced by others but more of that shortly!
So, your neighbour, local shop keeper, or auntie Olive’s next door neighbour says you don’t need to lose weight you’re lovely as you are, do you listen to them? No, probably not because you know that you actually do want to lose weight, so when they tell us we should stop as we are starting to look unwell or we are “like a stick” or other such terms do we listen to them, no probably not because we know they are not close to us, they don’t know us and frankly we are not that interested in their opinion! When close family or friends say similar things though we struggle don’t we? Well I did anyway and I know many others who have too. We struggle because we know in some cases it’s the green eyed monster and jealousy, sometimes it is just that they don’t want us to do well, in other cases it is genuine concern and care. Weeding these people out and working out who genuinely cares about our wellbeing I found is very difficult! One thing I have learnt is that what matters most is what you think, it is your body! If you want to stop at any point then a good friend/partner or relative will accept that because as long as you are healthy and not actually unwell due to your weight it is your decision not theirs! I did take advice from Stuart as to what point to stop losing weight and also from another few trusted friends. I struggled to see myself as the size I had become, if I’m honest I still have this struggle, but using their advice and suggestions I believe I made a good decision.
Clothes sizes and how this affects your target is a difficult question. One person who is a size 14 could weigh a very different amount to someone else who is a size 14. This could be down to height, body shape, style of clothes, shop clothes are from, or even the fit of clothes! Do you consider you are a certain size when one item of that size fits you? When a number of things of that size fit you? Or when a loose fit item of that size only just squeezes onto you? So unless you have been a weight before that you want to be again as you know that makes you a certain clothes size I believe using clothes size to gauge where to put your target weight is just impossible! Incidentally I personally consider that you are a clothes size when you got in clothes of that size from pretty much every shop and everything two sizes above drowns you, with a lot of the size above also being clearly too big! Everyone however is different and whatever makes you happy is all that matters after all the label is on the inside so whether you wear a 12 or a 14 no one knows except you!
So, BMI, this is a huge concern of mine in how women men and even children see their body. That number given to you in a doctors appointment can make you feel shockingly unhappy all too easily. While I understand it is a guide on whether your weight could indicate a health risk I believe it is also so important to see that it isn’t always as straight forward as that. My BMI when I joined Slimming World was 44.8. My BMI at target is 24.1 so just towards the top of the healthy bracket. So by this it would be easy to think ok so I’ve gone from unhealthy and morbidly obese to healthy so why am I bringing the BMI into this? Well the answer is this, if you base your target weight purely on BMI you do not know how you will look at that weight and more importantly what your health will be like. To illustrate this please take a moment to look at these photographs of me without carrying on reading and think if you think I look healthy, if so great if not think about how much weight you think I should lose or gain, when you’ve considered this please read on!
Thought about it? Ok so at both of these photos I was around my target weight, if you go by the BMI figures alone I could lose another almost 3 stones (2st 11lbs) and still be considered a healthy weight for my height! I am aware everyone is different but I hope this goes to show that we shouldn’t take the BMI figures as the only decider in where we should aim for target! Looking at it the other way too, at just 6lb over my target weight and the weight shown in these photos above, I would be considered as overweight! At my target weight of 12 stone and at 5ft 10 in height I am wearing size 8 clothes, I still have an odd few size tens but they are definitely too big and I have a few size 6 clothes, so based on that would you say I was almost overweight? Would you say I could safely lose almost 3 more stones? I certainly don’t think anyone in size 8 clothes could be considered almost overweight and also don’t feel I could lose so much more and still look healthy. Everyone is different all I ask is take the BMI figure with a pinch of salt and interpret it alongside your clothes sizes, feelings and opinions of those you trust!
How do you know the target figure you have chosen is right? If you feel happy at that weight when you get to that target whether that makes you a size 8 or a size 18, BMI 20, 25, 30 or whatever, then it’s right, it’s your body it’s your choice! A target can be changed again and again, your dreams may change, there are no rules there are no time limits, it is your weight loss journey and yours alone, so only you know what feels right for you.
Here is something that will no doubt make you giggle, but also explains my journey in finding what was right for me. As I got close to target I struggled to see myself as the size 8 lady I had become, I still saw myself as a 16 or 18, I saw wobbles, curves and imperfection and because of that felt I needed to lose much much more weight. My best friend is a size 6/8 and everyone considers her as thin, “there’s nothing to her”, “she needs more meat on her bones”, and skinny! I saw her as the same there is no way I would consider her fat or overweight. So one day Stuart had said to me that I was a similar size to Jenny (I know how fun having a best mate with the same name!) which I did not believe at all. Jenny is much shorter than me and as I have said very thin! So what does one do in such a situation? Why of course you get the tape measure out and whilst drinking coffee with her you get your friend to measure all her key parts, waist, thigh, top of arms, etc! The good friend that she is Jenny happily compared all these measurements with me and to my utter disbelief mine were very similar to hers! In most cases there were literally a couple of centimetres difference! Well this was a turning point for me and how I see my size, I now know I have a figure more like Jenny’s than the one in my head! It has now been 5 months since I reached target and I still don’t see a skinny Jen looking back when I look in the mirror I tell myself that the tape measure doesn’t lie!
Now the purpose of this blog isn’t to encourage everyone to get their friends around with a tape measure, or argue BMI with their doctor, but actually to just out these little thoughts into your head. The thoughts I have struggled to plant in there over the months, the little voices that say that the number isn’t as important as how you feel and the voice that says it’s your body ignore strangers opinions! Easier said than done I agree and the inner voice pulling ourselves down will always be there I think but instead of shutting it up with cake like in the past now we ignore it by remembering reason and reality and look at target as not just a weight but a general image. Losing weight won’t increase your confidence overnight unfortunately so basing your target weight on that will never work in my honest opinion but that’s a topic for another day!
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