As a woman, a mother, a wife, a fitness professional I can say that my ideal weight has changed so much over the years. Back in high school and college my ideal weight was 1 lb less than my best friend or sister. Think “The Price is Right”; best friend weighs 135 lb? My ideal weight is 134 lbs please, Bob. I just wanted to be skinnier than my friends, wear a smaller jean size, and be confident in a bathing suit at the public pool in the summer. Never mind the fact that I was a good 6 inches taller than all my friends, and a completely different body type; I just had to be smaller.
I remember distinctly on my wedding day, and the weeks leading up to it, that I had a specific number in my head that I wanted to see on that scale and if it wasn’t there on the big day I just knew I would be upset. I wanted it to be 137. How did I arrive at that number you ask? Pulled it out of thin air, that’s how. Looking back it was probably because my mom was always around 140 and I felt I had to compete. With my mother, which is so ludicrous I can’t even with myself RN.
I was hanging out around 147-149 most days and for some reason I thought 10 lb less would make me more beautiful, less stressed, and more radiant on my wedding day. Morning of my wedding I weighed 147 lbs, and it did not effect my joy that day, whatsoever.
Most women have a particular number in their head. It’s like a unicorn; magical, hard to catch and, oh yeah… not real. We envision that once we hit our goal weight all of our problems will suddenly disappear. We won’t struggle with body image and confidence, insecurities wondering if our partner finds us attractive, or if we look better than the other moms a preschool drop off. False. On so many levels.
9 time out of 10 when I ask someone their ideal weight they know the answer without having to spend anytime thinking about it. Often this number is a number that is associated with a happy time in the past. Most common I think (for women) is wedding day weight, or pre baby weight! I was 147 on the day I got married. I also remember wishing it was 137. After I delivered my first baby I remember thinking, oh my gosh if I ever get back to my pre baby weight again I will never think I am fat ever ever again!
My next question to them is always “Oh, were you happy when you were that weight?”
The same 9/10 answer, “No.” They almost all felt like they still wanted to lose more weight, look more toned or in general feel like that had hit some sort of magical goal number.
It is only ever in hindsight that we realize our happy weight didn’t make us happy because we were smaller.
More often than not, when I work with people there is some sort of fat loss goal and an ideal weight to reach. And that is totally fine – there is nothing wrong with that if you are working in a healthy range and keeping it safe and realistic. However, the people I see who have the greatest success with not just changing their physiques, but changing their habits, and how they treat themselves, choose to focus on a different type of goal.
I want to lose “x” number of lbs. becomes I want to get my first pull up or hit a double bodyweight Deadlift.
I want to hit “x” ideal weight becomes I want to keep up with my kids on the playground or be able to carry my kids at the same time and not drop them!
Even something as simple as shifting the focus from I want to lose weight, to I want to be strong and fit has huge implications on the attitude you approach your training with.
Feeling “I have to be my ideal weight” often comes from a desperate place. We find ourselves reaching up at these seemingly unattainable goals, like looking at climbing a steep staircase. The closer we get to the top the more tired and fatigued we are. I have felt that before. Where every morning when the scale doesn’t go down, or heaven forbid it goes up feels like a desperate race to burn more, eat less, and be less. The ideal weight dictates whether I am a failure or a success.
Saying “I want to be strong” has us reaching out, heading toward a goal on a spectrum. It’s more like walking flat to a destination. The further we go the more momentum we have collected, and our legs just know what to do. There’s work involved, but when we get there there is more in the tank to give and we don’t need to recover for days on end. They scale says nothing. Cuz we told it to STFU.
I would argue that you have spent more than a few minutes thinking about what your ideal weight should be. After all, if you made it this far it’s been at least 2 minutes. I encourage you to continue to ask yourself these questions. Spend some time examining these for a few minutes before your day gets crazy, your to do list piles up, and we don’t chat again til next week …
There is no agenda with these questions, and you are the only one who needs to know the answer. I encourage you to sit with them this week. Do some digging and realize that your ideal weight can change, can be non existent, and (excuse me) just probably doesn’t effin matter all that much.
Til next week friends,