What’s in a Word?

Skinny. Fat. Chubby. Chicken legs. Thunder thighs. Big boned. Fine boned. Double chin. Chunky. Tall. Short. Slender. Muffin top. Extra tire. Fine features.

All of these words are used to describe a person’s appearance, but does anyone like to hear them?  Why do these words end up defining who we are?  In highschool I would have been considered tall and skinny. Now if you asked me I would have never said I was skinny – I had a bit of a pot belly and I’ve always had “thunder thighs”. When I look back at some of those pictures now I can admit that I definitely was thin – too thin.  Fast forward 20 years and I’m now 80 pounds heavier (granted I’m still losing the last of my pregnancy weight – baby is 4 months old), and at this point I’m considered obese.  But BMI calculations doesn’t account for things like pregnancy or muscle even.  Most professional sports players are considered overweight or even obese based on the BMI scale.  So if a professional sports player can be considered overweight according to the BMI, why do we use that as a scale for what is considered healthy?

A couple years ago I went back to the gym and had a few sessions with a personal trainer.  He asked what my goals were.  I remember telling him that my ultimate goal was to get “fit” so that I could go for a run with my kids and not be gasping for breath.  I’d love to lose my love handles, but I wasn’t looking to be a size 2.  That’s not who I’ve ever been, so to think I could do that now would just be unrealistic – that’s just not how my body is built.  I remember him telling me that he was happy to hear that – that I had a realistic expectation.  He said too many people come in and expect to not only reach that unrealistic goal for themselves, but expect to do it in a short amount of time.  I mentioned earlier that I recently had a baby.  I’m a firm believer in “9 months up, 9 months down” when it comes to pregnancy weight.  So even thought I may be frustrated that none of my capris from pre-pregnancy fit, I keep reminding myself that my little man is only 4 months.  And I only have 7 pounds left.  And as much as I can’t wait for them to be gone, they also mean something.

There’s been many articles in the news lately about “fat-shaming” and a positive body image.  From Kelly Clarkson to PINK to the Dove campaign.  So why are these gaining so much attention?  I think people are finally realizing that the super skinny body isn’t always sexy – especially when it got that way in an unhealthy way.  And let’s face it – those super skinny models are only a small percentage of the population.  I recently read an article that France is going to implement a law banning super skinny models.  You can check out the article here.

The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry – estimated at 60.5 billion in 2014.  Why is that?  Are we really that unhappy with ourselves?  Or is it because “someone” out there says we’re too fat?  I joined Weight Watchers 11 years ago after I put on 20 pounds in the month my dad passed away.  I was successful and I did lose weight.  However I only stayed with them for about 3 months.  Why?  Because I soon realized that I was paying someone else so that I could do something as simple as track my intake of food.  There are soooooo many other forms of weight loss out there – from diet pills to restrictive diets to purchasing your controlled food portions from a company and more.  I know of people who have dropped a TON of weight by severly restricting their food intake.  But those same people put most if not all of that weight back on when they went back to their normal eating habits.  And most of them went back to those habits because they were so unhappy and grumpy by the strict limits placed on them.  I’m a firm believer of eating from Canada’s Food Guide and eating proper portions and exercising.  I know you’re thinking “But Heather you said earlier that you are considered obese by the BMI”, and you’re right.  I am.  And just because I believe in following the food guide doesn’t always mean that I do.  I still enjoy a piece of cake at my kids birthday (or 2 or 3).  I still chose to enjoy my food, I just chose to (hopefully) make healthier choices most of the time.  I have also been tracking my food intake (including those 2 pieces of cake) on My Fitness Pal.  It’s very similar to the food tracking I was doing for weight watchers but it’s free.

I mentioned earlier about those last 7 “baby weight” pounds I had to lose and how they mean something to me.  They remind me that I was fortunate to carry our 3 children for a full 40 plus weeks – something that some women can only dream of.  It reminds me that I live somewhere where being considered obese is a problem – I don’t have to worry about when or where my next meal is coming from.  It reminds me that I do over indulge sometimes.  It reminds me to teach our children how to balance the good food with the bad.  It reminds me to make sure they know they can enjoy things in life.  it reminds me to enjoy time with my kids -even if that involves going for a run with them and having me run out of breath.  But most of all it reminds me to teach my children to love who they are not matter what.  The number on a scale is only that – a number.  It doesn’t define who they are.  Well unless your my 5 year old who is less than 4 pounds away from wishing enough to move up to a booster seat.  😉

I don’t ever want my kids use those words at the beginning of this post to define themselves.  I want them to think of themselves as smart, beautiful, worthy, intelligent, helpful, generous, humble, brave, kind, confident and more.  I will do whatever I can to ensure that.  And I’ll do whatever I can to make sure that they see those same things in others and tell those people.

This post has been rolling around in my head for quite a while.  And I have to give a quick shout out to my friend Teena.  She’s started her own blog and Facebook page about positive self image and loving your body. And after reading through her words I decided it was time to get this out of my head and out for people to read.