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What's A Good Weight For Me?

Resetting our misperceptions

Dr Padma Garvey/Plant-Based Doctor Mom

What’s a Good Weight For Me?

Many years ago, my then 8 and 10 year old children were leafing through some old photo albums. They came across a picture of someone and asked “who’s that woman?”  They were shocked to learn that it was me.  It was me before children, when I was about 27 years old, certainly an adult but much thinner.  That’s when it struck me that my perception of what I should weigh had been altered. Maybe it was that everyone else around me was getting older and heavier.  It was when we were in the midst of ‘super-sizing’ everything.  I was working fulltime with two on and so forth.  Shortly thereafter, a close family friend came to visit.  She was about 65 years old at the time, could have been Sally Fields' twin sister, energetic, active, and slender. She mentioned to me that she weighed the same as she did on the day she got married.   Why was I surprised by that?  She was an adult when she got married.  I, on the other hand, was 40 pounds heavier than when I got married. 

 From the moment we are born, our metabolism starts slowing down. Every year after birth, our metabolic needs slow down gradually. A newborn consumes 100 calories/pound/day. If we ate at the same rate then an average 130 pound woman would consume about 13,000 calories a day. Clearly our metabolisms as adults are much lower.   In fact, if you keep everything the same as far as activity level and calories consumed, you will gain about a pound or two every year.  Doctors are often reluctant to bring up weight because they don’t want to be accused of making patients feel bad.  Also it takes time to discuss issues related to proper diet and exercise. Often it is easier to just ignore issues.  In addition there is something impersonal about using body mass indices and charts to convince a patient that they are overweight. 

When patients ask me what’s a good weight for them I tell them to go to their oldest living relative’s house and look at their pictures from when they were 18.  I talk about myself and how my goal is to weigh what I weigh the day I got married.  You don’t need a chart to tell you what’s a good weight for you, you just need to leaf through a high school yearbook from 1970. 

There are a few things that have worked for me in my ongoing struggle to weigh what I weighed when I got married.  First adopt a low oil, plant-based, whole grain diet.  I lost thirty pounds in one year doing this; 13 pounds just from cutting back on oil in my food and 10 pounds from eliminating dairy. Second, get a standing desk at work.  I lost three pounds in a few months doing this.  Third, exercise regularly. I didn't lose a lot of weight exercising but doing so gives me the stamina to stand at my desk all day.  I march on in my journey to get back to my wedding weight!!

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