For most of my life my body has been a medium size and weight -not “fat”, not skinny. Medium. Pre-GAPS, there were times my body’s size increased to points such that I felt uncomfortable being in my body or moving it around. I then chose to reduce my size back to “medium”. And a few times pre-GAPS, my size was very small. Once this was due to a very long bout of gastrointestinal illness in a land far from home, in which I did not know how to access remedies, thus continued to lose weight at an alarming rate over the course of several months. Sometimes it was due to abject poverty (i.e., I had little access to food, and any access I did have -food banks and soup kitchens- required that I walk many kilometres each day). Sometimes weight loss was during better times in my life, but when I had set a goal of meeting an ideal determined by a weight chart or fashion standard.
While weight loss was triggered by different circumstances, I’ve noticed the following patterns:
- When I’m at the middle or the bottom of what weight charts want me to be, I’m sad, nervous, jittery, anxious, snappish, and uncomfortable. And although at those weights my clothes do indeed “hang just right,” my body somehow feels pokey, irritated, and agitated when I sit.
- My points of most profound “mental” illness corresponded with my points of lowest weight.
- When I’m at the very top of or slightly heavier than the weight charts propose is “ideal” for me, I still look healthy but I am also happy, peaceful, calm, and relaxed. I feel strong, comfortable, powerful, and ready for the world.
Currently, I’m a medium-sized, somewhat compact, curvy person. I’m not as light as the charts want me to be, and I’m not as small as magazines photos pitch as ideal. Is it possible there is other criteria to assess one’s ideal weight by?
On GAPS, many people find they lose weight on early Intro -this is fun for those who have wanted to reduce pounds, but terrifying for those already underweight. After early Intro, this reverses: Many find they begin to gain weight. This phase is thrilling for those who have been terribly thin for many years, but nerve-wracking for those who have struggled to stay under a given weight. Some find they continue gaining weight -more than they want. Most of these folks I haven’t met, so I don’t know what their “extra weight” looks like. Are they really too big? Or are they just bigger than the charts, trends, or clothing companies ask us to be? On an esthetic level, I really admire some of the bodies in my neighbourhood that are smaller than mine. I happen to think those bodies are super cute. However, I also think many, many large and medium ones are, too! What is most attractive to me overall is not any given size but signs of health such as the ability to move freely and playfully, clarity of thought, the ability to listen deeply, joy, laughter, and optimism. In my observation, these qualities come in all sorts of sizes -which may or may not meet the numbers set by third parties.
I propose that we ditch the charts and think twice about losing those “last five pounds”. Could those last five or ten pounds be the very ones that are allowing our “happy hormones” to skip and play freely? Or that support a sound sleep, laughter, and the energy to move joyfully?
I’m healthy. I have energy. I can run, dance, dig, and play. I feel happy. I feel calm. I laugh a lot. These are how I assess my ideal weight. How about you?
ETA: October 31, 2012 Mark Sisson over at Primal Blueprint offered this excellent post on weight. All very well said!