So lately a lot of people have been asking the ever so popular question
“how much weight have you lost?”
To me, this has always seemed like such a weird question. Don’t get me wrong, I get the curiosity, in fact, I have probably been guilty of asking it once or twice myself. It just seems like such an intrusive question to me.
We don’t ask people their age, how much money they make, or how much sex they have so why do we think it is ok to ask how many pounds someone has lost?
I’m a mom so I am no stranger to intrusive questions from people…and I may not always handle it..well..appropriately. Here is a quick example: Once while pregnant, and particularly….we will say…hormonal, a stranger in the check out line was asking me the usual intrusive questions. How far along are you? Is it a boy or a girl? Did you have terrible morning sickness? I looked right at this poor woman and said,
“Having a baby is a miracle…it is also a medical condition. Have you heard of HIPAA? The health care privacy act, exists for a reason. I’m not asking you if you had your appendix out so please don’t ask me about my medical history.”
Yes, not one of my finer moments but come on moms you feel me right?
I know people are asking because they are curious and maybe even because they are supportive or need support of their own, but I have two major problems with people asking me how much I have lost.
Here is the first: I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO ANSWER! Like many woman weight and body image has been a struggle for me over my lifetime. Sometimes a small nuisance sometimes a large struggle. So are you asking how much I’ve ever lost, how much I lost since I started trying this time, or how much I lost this week?
Ok so here is the most recent math: I gained 30 pounds when I was pregnant (pretty average I think) but I was overweight when I got pregnant. I, having struggled with weight as previously mentioned, was in a bit of a struggle upswing (read- a little crazy) towards the end of my pregnancy.
I mean if I wasn’t wearing plus size when I got pregnant why did I need plus size pregnancy clothes (which by the way are not so easy to find). If wedding dresses run big (my theory is to make the bride-to-be feel a little less neurotic) then why hasn’t anyone ever thought to do this for pregnant ladies…the hormones are raging remember…give a girl a little break!
Anyway, as I was saying, I was a little crazy. Sooooo when I left for the hospital to give birth I stood on the scale on my way out (don’t laugh) and as soon as I brought that bundle of joy home I stood on the scale (I said stop laughing). I lost 20 of the 30 pounds in the hospital woot-woot!
Breastfeeding and getting used to motherhood as well as a bulging disc in my back put any kind of weight loss focus on the back burner.
I lost a couple pounds but nothing to write home (or a blog post) about. Then in January (my son was 10.5 months) I started a new plan for healthy living. The weight started to come off. I am now 20 pounds less than I was when I got pregnant!
This feels amazing by the way.
But being a little focused on mathematical accuracy (I blame my mathematician father) I don’t know the right answer. Do I say 50 pounds from my top weight? I don’t think so because my top weight pregnant in my opinion doesn’t count…after all it was due to a HIPAA protected medical condition. Do I say 30 pounds from when my kid was born? Maybe. Do I say 25 pounds from when I actively changed my lifestyle? I don’t know.
Then I started to think…why do I care so much about how I answer. I started to think why are people really asking? I think some ask because its become rote, a way to show you noticed. I think others are genuinely curious or interested in how or want to compliment me. So I changed my answer. When someone asks how much weight I have lost I say
“I’ve lost enough weight for everything to feel different and better. I am feeling great and I am really proud of myself. It is quite an accomplishment and I appreciate that you noticed”
I know, sounds hokey and maybe even turns some people off but I have my reasons.
This brings me to the second reason I don’t like the question of how much weight I have lost: IT DOES NOT MATTER, IT IS JUST A NUMBER!
I strive to not care about a number, to not let a number have power over me. I did not succeed at this when I was a young lady first navigating adulthood…or pregnant for that matter, but I sure as hell am going to succeed at it now. I’m older, wiser and a mother! I want to be a good role model for my children. I do look at the numbers as a gage, but I also look at how my clothes fit and most importantly how I feel.
So folks here it is. Asking me how much weight I have lost is not the question to ask.
Ask me how I feel.
Ask me if it was hard.
Ask me how I have changed.
You can even ask me how I did it.
For me, I didn’t set out to lose weight, or draw in compliments. I chose to make a conscious effort to live a healthier lifestyle. I sleep better, my skin is better, my mood is better, and a nice side effect, I lost weight. I want to be healthy for myself and my family.
The weight and healthy living issue is something that has been a part of my journey long before I became a mom and probably will never fully go away. The changes my body went through to have my son may have mentally set me back a bit. But I’m back again in the right mindset. I am not my weight. I am me, and I am pretty darn proud of me today. We can just leave it at that.