I’m going to level with you.
I do not like being fat. I know we are supposed to love our bodies no matter their shape and size (and I do have a lot of love for my body), but I just happen to not like the way it looks when my belly sticks out as far as my boobs, you know? I grew up skinny, I have a thin frame–my body is just built to be on the thin side. Other women can be much thicker than me and still be in their ideal weight zone and have beautiful figures. I’m not obsessed with being thin, I just was built that way, and feel and look my best when I’m fairly slender.
But right now I weigh more than I ever have–not counting when I was pregnant and immediately following pregnancy, of course. According to “official” weight charts, I’d be considered overweight right now. But it’s not the number on the scale that bothers me…it’s the fact that I can barely fit into my “fat” jeans. It’s looking in the mirror and seeing that my figure isn’t quite the hourglass I’m used to seeing. It’s knowing that if my body were functioning optimally, I probably wouldn’t have this extra fat on me. And, it’s wondering…why?? I eat a good diet, so why did I gain extra weight?
I think I know why. I think it’s because my metabolism fell during the winter due to various reasons, and I wasn’t exercising. It’s because I kept eating lots of food anyway because I didn’t want to miss out on the nutrients I know my body needs before conceiving. I put the creation of a healthy baby above my vanity. I put my health above my vanity.
It’s better this way. Even though I don’t prefer to have a flabby midsection, I’m kinda proud of myself for putting my future baby’s health ahead of my desire for a smaller tummy. I’m pleased with myself that I understand that the path to good health is not paved with food restriction. And I’m happy that I’m actually *sort of* okay with being rounder, if it means I am healthier than I would be if I wasn’t eating enough.
I did not always have this mindset. I used to eat smaller meals or meals with fewer calories. I would skip having a nighttime snack if I thought it was too close to bedtime. I wasn’t intentionally restricting myself; rather, I had just ingrained the messages conventional dietary wisdom had instilled in me, and I did this with barely even thinking about it. Deep in the recesses of my mind, I had learned that if I didn’t want to get fat, then I shouldn’t eat too much or too often.
Have you ever thought about what conventional dietary wisdom tells us? I mean really thought about it? I was listening to the John Tesh radio show the other day, and he was reading off some recommendations from some diet-guru-I-don’t-know-who, and was telling everyone that when you go out to eat, to order from the “lite” menu, which averages around 700 calories per meal. And then he said that you should still take HALF of it home! Do you realize there that he just told people that they should only eat 350 calories for dinner? And of course you aren’t supposed to snack, either, right? Are we eating only 350 per meal for every meal, then? 350 x 3 meals a day…that’s only 1050 calories! Maybe if you get two 100 calories snacks, then it would be 1250.
If that doesn’t seem like a small amount to you, let me give you some perspective. The USDA recommends 2000 calories per day for the average American woman. Consider that the average American woman is not very active. So that’s 2000 calories a day for a somewhat inactive person. An active person with a healthy metabolism could easily handle 3000 calories a day. That’s a thousand calories per meal, people! (If you don’t snack.)
I’m not very active. I don’t work out. I don’t weight train, so I don’t have that extra muscle mass to burn extra calories. But, if I do not eat at least 2000 calories a day, I can’t even keep up with the housework, I am so tired. So eat I do. I eat for energy, I eat for nutrients, I eat in hopes my metabolism perks back up (and it actually does when I’m consistent about eating regular nutritious meals). If I actually exercised regularly, I bet I could eat 3000 calories a day without gaining any weight. I actually have a goal to be able to eat that many calories. Why?
Because I know that more food = more nutrients.
I had this epiphany a couple years ago that by not eating enough, I was denying my body the nutrients it needed to heal and function well. I want to heal and function well! What would only 1050 calories a day do to me? It would starve me of the nutrition I need and completely flatten my metabolism, that’s what. It would slowly kill me.
I’ve gained a little weight not because I’m eating too much. I’ve gained weight because I haven’t been very active due to a foot injury. I’ve gained weight because my eating habits had been inconsistent over the winter and it screwed my metabolism. Starving myself will not heal my foot, and it certainly will not help me have the energy I need to be active. Starving myself most certainly will not improve my metabolism. Starving myself will not help me conceive and grow a beautifully healthy child. Sorry John Tesh, but starving myself just ain’t gonna happen. Nope. Sorry. Not gonna do it.
But obviously I can’t just keep gaining weight. What’s a person in my position to do? I think the only thing I really can do is work on increasing my metabolism. Our metabolism is how efficient our bodies work, it’s how well nutrients get into the cells, it’s how well energy is used. By improving my metabolism, I will be directly improving my health. I can do this with food, with exercise, and increasing muscle mass. But honestly, I’m not even very motivated by weight loss to do these things. I care a lot more about feeling good and being healthy. Having a leaner body would just be a really nice side effect. 🙂