How I Lost 20 Pounds

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Month four of my resolution not to drink alcohol has come to an end.  I’m both surprised and proud to report that I have lost 20 pounds and have returned to what I consider to be my “ideal weight.”

Image (My weight loss is most obvious in my face. Above, at 155 pounds. Below, at 138 pounds.)

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More often than not over the past 12 years, my New Year’s resolution was to lose 20 pounds. In all those times, I didn’t even come close, not even during the years when I tried really, really hard. As I mentioned in my blog last week, we all know that trying is not enough on its own. In this blog post, I try my best to answer the inevitable question of “How did I Do It?”

I attribute my successful weight loss this year to these four things:

  1. Quitting drinking
  2. Telling the world about it
  3. Approaching it like a marathon
  4. Using an app to track everything

Quitting Drinking

Not drinking is the single-most important factor in my weight loss.  As I’ve said before, the first 8 pounds I lost was solely due to not drinking. Everyone knows that alcohol has calories. When I was drinking two glasses of wine a night, I was adding approximately 350 calories to my daily calorie intake. This online article has a wealth of information about wine and calories.  It’s hard to stick to a diet of 1,200 calories-a-day if you consume 29% in the form of a liquid with no nutritional value. Studies have also shown that you eat 20% more when you are drinking while you are eating. This recent article talks about that and many more negative effectives of alcohol on weight. In addition to these reasons above, I am now also able to exercise at night, something I never could have done after drinking wine at dinner.

Telling the World

As I mentioned in my inaugural blog post in late December, I improved my chances of sticking to my resolution because I told other people about it and wrote it down. That’s the point of this blog – I’ve made myself accountable not only to my close friends and family, but also to anyone who stumbles across this blog. As of this writing, I have 132 followers and that number increases every week. I don’t think I would have been able to stick to my resolution to quit drinking without the blog. Also, having the blog forces me to think through many issues and ideas associated with drinking, dieting, and exercising. All of this keeps me trying harder and staying more focused. After all, I have to report something interesting back to the blogosphere.

Marathon Approach

I’m aware that it’s a cliché to say that something “is a marathon and not a sprint.” However, since I actually run marathons, I think it’s okay for me to use this phrase.  Also, it’s true. I am approaching my weight loss and fitness goals like I approach a marathon, both literally and figuratively. Literally, I am actually training for a marathon, and that means I exercise six days every single week, culminating in both a strenuous race pace run every Saturday and a long run every Sunday. Figuratively, I have chunked out my goals into smaller goals and am taking a long view.  I am not following a fad diet or eating different things than I normally would in order to lose weight quickly. With the one exception of cutting out alcohol, I am eating pretty much as I did before. However, when I realize I need to change my diet in order to be more successful at losing weight, I change one thing at a time, so that the change is gradual.

To me, a marathon approach also means that it’s okay to screw up. During a marathon, you’re going to have slow miles and fast miles. The slow miles are not bits of failure, they are just a part of the process. The goal for the marathon runner is the average pace run over the full distance. There can be many points of exhaustion along the way, so even walking is okay. A successful diet is much the same.

Using A Fitness App

Once the easy weight from quitting drinking was gone, it was all about my commitment to use the app. I have a daily goal of 1,200 calories that I track using a free fitness Web application called MyFitnessPal. I lost between 1-1.5 pounds per week without fail by inputting everything I ate into the app. When I exercised, I also input that into that app and earned more calories for that day. If I ate too much, I exercised more.  It was that simple; but it was not magic.  It takes focus and commitment to leverage this tool in order to lose weight.

The thread that pulls through all of these contributors to my success in losing 20 pounds — quitting drinking, telling the world, having a marathon approach, and using a fitness app – is commitment. In the end, that’s the most important thing.

Dogs As Running Partners

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For the third year in a row, I am training for a marathon. This year, my secret weapon is my new running partner. She was carefully selected from hundreds of available options. She is relatively tall and lean and from a long line of very energetic stock. In fact, you could say that she was bred to run around all day long. She is always ready to go and, no matter what, she encourages me forward, particularly on my longest training runs.

Who is this amazing running partner? My dog, Cleopatra, a 15-month old Jack Russell-hound mix that my husband and I rescued in October last year. This link takes you to the website of the wonderful organization in New York State that pulled Cleo out of a kill shelter in Alabama, from which we adopted her.

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(Above: This selfie was taken the day we adopted Cleo, in the car on the way home.)

I knew at first sight that she’d make a great running partner. I didn’t know how great until one day after an 8-mile run when Cleo ran circles around our house and property in a full-on sprint for several minutes. “Hmmmm,” I murmured out loud, “I guess she can run further than 8 miles.”

When I told my husband and some of my friends about Cleo’s running prowess, each time I was asked things like “Is it good for her?” and “How far can she run?” This prompted me to do some research.

According to all of the articles I found, including this one from Outside, this one from Animal Planet, and this one from Runner’s World, Cleo makes it into the top 10 running dogs on both sides of her family. She’s half Jack Russell which is number 10 and half some sort of hound that is most likely a pointer. The pointers are represented in the top 10 by Weimaraner at number 2 and Vizsla at number 8. German pointer is also on the list.

Animal Planet points to these breeds as being particularly great at running long distances. According to the article, “If your daily journey consists of a ten mile trek or more, then the following dogs will be able to keep up with you because of their medium build and the muscles in their hind parts: German shorthaired pointers, Goldendoodles, Jack Russell terriers, Weimaraners and Vizslas.”

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(Above: Cleo loves to run and has a great build for it.)

This information was very encouraging and also seemed validated in my several training runs with Cleo so far. However, I was reminded by this post at The SparkPeople that it’s important to check with my vet before pushing her too hard. I immediately called to make an appointment and decided to wait until seeing the vet before taking Cleo beyond 10 miles again. I’m very glad I did.

Dr. Heath McNutt, at Riverside Pet Care in Ludlow and Rutland, Vermont, is a wonderful person who is remarkably dedicated to the animals he treats. Based on our experience with him as the vet for our dearly departed and beloved Roxy, I have great trust in his expertise and opinion. During Cleo’s check-up, I told Dr. McNutt what I learned online about dogs running and that I was hoping Cleo could come along on all of my training runs, even the 20 milers.  His response gave me a lot to think about.

“When I think about dogs running long distances, it stresses me out,” Dr. McNutt began ominously. “Human bodies are built better for running. Dogs are generally designed to run really fast for short periods of time. Just because they are willing to do it, it doesn’t mean it’s best for them. That said, I also acknowledge that some breeds are better suited to running than others.”

He then told me that it’s important for me to check-in with Cleo on the faster runs and the longer runs and to stop or significantly slow down if she is excessively panting or has a dry tongue. He further explained that terrain is important. “For example, stay off of asphalt in the summer and watch for sore feet,” he said.

Dr. McNutt could tell that I wanted him to be more specific in his guidance about how to best incorporate Cleo into my training schedule. I was glad when he thought for an extra few moments and added, “I think the long runs at your pace are fine. She can move all day long. But, I would be more concerned about the (racing) pace runs. She won’t complain, because she is a natural athlete.”

This was really great information. I’m so glad that I checked with my vet to make sure that what I had researched made sense in our specific situation. Now, I better understand which parts of my training are appropriate for Cleo and which are not. I have decided to limit Cleo’s pace runs to 6 miles. On the long runs, I’ll be sure to check her feet, panting, and tongue every 3-4 miles. Finally, I’m going to map my longer runs in loops near my house, so that I have a bail-out for Cleo mid-run, just in case.

 

P.S. Since Cleo is so popular, I’m adding some additional photos of her. She is full grown at almost 31 pounds.

Cleo 4

Cleo 1

Cleo 3

Cleo 2

Any Damned Fool

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Talking with a friend of mine last week about our respective running schedules, I was reminded of a lesson I learned at basketball camp the summer before my freshman year of high school.

Image(Above: Armed with the knowledge I gained at basketball camp, I made varsity my freshman year. I’m in the back row, with the short, poofy hair, in between the two girls with glasses.)

When I asked my friend about her running plans for the weekend, she said that she was going to “try to make time for a run.” I know this might sound harsh, but it became clear to me in the middle of our conversation that my friend wasn’t going to be running. Sure enough, when I checked in with her on Sunday night, she said she hadn’t run.

Clearly, I don’t have the ability to read minds or to predict the future. A long time ago, however, through my own trial and error, I learned that exercise is just like anything else in life. The first step to achieving something is to actually believe that it will happen.

What does this have to do with basketball camp? When I went to K.C. Jones‘ Celtics Basketball Camp after 8th grade, the former Celtics assistant coach, Donald “Ducky” Meade, told us a story on this very topic that I have never forgotten. In fact, his story is the sole recollection I have from that whole week at camp. It’s a life lesson worth its weight in gold, and certainly worth the cost of one week of summer camp!

The story Ducky told went something like this:

There is a very close basketball game and the key player on the other team has been scoring over and over again. It’s clear to the coach that there’s just no way his home team is going to win, if they can’t shore up their defenses against this one, hot-shot player. 

So the coach turns to the bench and walks toward one of the players–let’s call him Jimmy.  The coach says to him, “Jimmy, I need you to go in there right now and stick with #14. Do not let him score again.”

Jimmy immediately stands up and says, “Coach, I’ll try,” and then moves toward the score keepers to check-in.

The coach steps between Jimmy and the check-in table and says, “Any damned fool can try. Sit down.” He then points to another player and asks him to go into the game instead of Jimmy.

After telling the story, Ducky asked us why the coach didn’t put Jimmy in. None of the girls, including me, immediately understood why, and thought it was really mean of the coach to bench Jimmy. A few of us shook our heads, indicating “No.”

Ducky was a very, very small older man who was extremely energetic and animated. He nearly went ballistic that we didn’t understand the point of his story. So, he jumped around in front of us and explained that, in sports you have to commit 200%, and really believe that you are going to succeed in order to do so. And that’s why Jimmy didn’t get to play in that game. By saying the he would “try” he indicated to his coach that he wasn’t fully committed, and that, inside, he did not have true belief that he could stop that other player from scoring.

After hearing the explanation, it made perfect sense to me. In sports and in life, I’ve been reminded of this truth many times since. In fact, in the short time since I decided to write about this topic, a significant event involving athletic belief has taken place that puts an even finer point on my story. It is much more powerful and positive than the tale about my friend who didn’t fully commit to planning for a weekend run.

I am referring to the story of Meb Keflezighi, who won yesterday’s Boston Marathon, the first American man to do so since 1983. Meb certainly is one of the great American long-distance runners of his generation, having won the New York City Marathon (2009) and earned an Olympic silver medal at the Athens summer games (2004). However, he is turning 39 in a few short days and was listed on the 4th page of the elite runners list in the Boston Marathon press kit (the names were placed in order of their fastest marathon times).

Because of this, no one believed that Meb was going to win the Boston Marathon. When I say “no one,” of course, what I really mean is that no one other than Meb himself thought that he could win it. Yet, on a fine running day in Boston, Meb beat scores of runners significantly younger and faster than himself and crossed the finish line first, thus cementing himself among the all-time great American runners.

Not everyone who believes they will be successful will be. However, if you do not believe it, you can be pretty certain that you will fail.

Cat School

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I enjoyed putting together my last post, “My Sibs and Me.” So much so, in fact, that I have to tell one more sibling story.

As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, I am writing a memoir. In the process, I have dusted off several boxes of old books, letters, journals and photographs. The last box I opened had several reports and personal mementos from my primary and secondary school years in Ludlow, Vermont.

Among these items was a typed, untitled, one-page story with an “A-” in red ink at the top. I have no idea how old I was when I wrote it, or what my assignment was. The story, however, is one that I have told many, many times through the years, even very recently. In all of those recountings, though, I never quite told it the same way that it was typed by my young self on a nearly transparent sheet of typing paper.

The story takes place when I was four and my brother Wayne was five. At the time, our older brother Bill was six and in first grade. I was in my first year of a pre-school program, and was very worried about how my cat passed his days while I was away at school. My mother eventually found my many nagging questions about my cat—“Gimpy”—tiresome and finally told me that Gimpy also went to school. She explained that, as soon as we three kids went off to school in the morning, Gimpy went to “Cat School.”

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(Above: This photo was taken about the same time that the “cat school” story takes place.)

On the morning of the story, the pre-school was closed, but the elementary school was still in session. This meant that Billy went off to school while Wayne and I stayed home. Shortly after Billy had left, I looked out the window and spied Gimpy walking around outside. I ran to Wayne and told him to come with me and look, because “Gimpy must be on his way to Cat School!”

Below is exactly what was written on the typed page that I found.

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When I was about four, my family lived in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Our house had some woods and a swamp behind it.

One day, my brother, Wayne, and I decided to follow our cat, Gimpy, around to see where he goes during the day. The cat started to head for the woods, so Wayne and I chased him. I don’t remember how long we followed Gimpy, but somewhere in the middle of the woods, we lost sight of him.

I started to cry and Wayne said, “I know how to get home from here.”

We started heading back the way we came and came to the swamp. Wayne walked right through the water and when he got to the other side, he said, “Sharon, come on, it isn’t that deep.”

I said, “I don’t want to get wet!”

Finally, I went in the swamp and got wet all the way up to my chest. After a bit of walking we reached a place we’d seen before.

I said, “Our house is this way.”

“No, stupid, it’s this way,” Wayne said.

Wayne went his way and I went mine. When I couldn’t see Wayne any more, I started screaming and (then turned around and) caught up with him. I followed him through the woods and finally we were out of the woods and in our back yard. Mom was standing next to the house yelling at us. We ran to Mom and hugged her. I think she was crying.

Mom said, “Oh, I’m so glad to see you! If you ever run away again I’ll give you both a licking!”

By: Sharon Combes

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Finding my old school essay allowed me to see this childhood episode through my own eyes as a child. I imagine myself being too embarrassed at the time that I wrote it to acknowledge that I believed my Mom when she said that our cat went to school. Therefore, I completely left that part out, despite it being a fundamental part of the story.

This tale is a special sibling story to me, because it’s a microcosm of my relationship with Wayne when Billy wasn’t around. We had our differences, but we still turned to each other and, ultimately, bonded.

I’d love to hear other childhood sibling stories. Please comment on this post with one of your favorites.

My Sibs and Me

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Evidently there’s a Siblings Day. I became aware of it late on April 10th through the numerous postings in my Facebook newsfeed about it. When the hell did that happen? And, if it’s now a bona fide day of family recognition, where will this end? I found out there’s already a Cousins Day, for example. Assuming I’m not the only person asking these questions, I’m writing to provide a little background on this obscure holiday, as well as a few personal thoughts about my own siblings.

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(Above: I couldn’t resist putting out a Belated Siblings Day post on Facebook with this sweet Combes sibling portrait from the early ‘70s.)

Here’s what Wikipedia says: “Siblings Day (sometimes called National Siblings Day) is a holiday recognized annually in some parts of the United States on April 10 honoring the relationships of siblings. Unlike Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, it is not federally recognized, though the Siblings Day Foundation is working to change this. Since 1998, the governors of (41) states have officially issued proclamations to recognize Siblings Day in their state.”

There’s a lot more information about it in this fact sheet located on the foundation’s website. For example, the date of April 10th was picked because it was the birthdate of the founder’s deceased sister.

That, as the website says, “the bond between siblings is usually the longest relationship of a person’s life” is certainly true. I remember pointing this out to my nephew Liam a year or two ago when he was angsting about his sister and yelled at the top of his lungs, “I hate Ayla!!!” I counseled him then that the day will come when he needs his sister and that his relationship with her will be the single-most important one he develops through his whole life. Of course, he looked at me like I had corn growing out of my ears.

I certainly had my ups and downs with my two brothers, Bill and Wayne, particularly when we were very young.  I remember being terrified of being left alone with Wayne and often used to wonder, had Billy not been there to protect me from him, whether I ever would have survived toddlerhood.

There was the time Wayne pushed my head under water while I was learning how to swim, the time he got a bunch of neighborhood kids to help him stick me in a hammock and spin me over and over again until I threw up, and the countless times he used to kick me under the table.

Wayne never minded getting in trouble, so he seemed to make it his goal to take me down with him. “Wayne is kicking me under the table!” I once yelled.  Dad replied in a millisecond, “at least he’s quiet about it.”

The most depressing instance was the time Wayne successfully got my mother to believe that I had used the F word.  I was probably 8 at the time and I had never even considered using the F word. I’ll never understand, given Wayne’s history of shenanigans, why my mother believed him. At any rate, Mom attempted to wash my mouth out with soap – except there wasn’t any water involved. I can still taste the chunks of Coast that were scraped off in my mouth under my little buck teeth.

It went on like this for years between me and Wayne.  Our relationship didn’t turn around until Billy went to college and it was just the two of us left at home, he a high school senior and I a junior. Wayne had realized that it was handy to have a popular sister who could potentially provide access to girls.

In my “new” relationship with Wayne, I was touched that he asked my help putting clothes together for him to wear to school. He seemed to blossom in several ways that last year home.  In actuality, I probably just noticed Wayne more now that Billy was gone. That allowed me to get to know him better and to appreciate him. 

Billy and I, on the other hand, seemed to have been made from the same mold.  We were high academic achievers, extroverts, and captains of our high school sports teams. That we were so much alike and so difficult to ignore were probably the main reasons Wayne seemed to have so much trouble growing up. He might have felt unnoticed and under-appreciated, and that led to outlandish behavior to get attention.

In high school, Billy and I had a nightly ritual of doing homework around the massive oak table in our family room. It was always a race to finish our assignments by 11:15, when the local NBC news broadcast ended, so we could watch “Star Trek.”  When the mildly attractive and shapely meteorologist started her fumbling assessment of the next day’s weather, it was a signal to finish up, close the books, and be alert for Captain Kirk.

Like the motley crew on the Enterprise, Billy and I always seemed to get along.  Those nights doing our homework together are among my fondest childhood memories.

Then the inevitable happened. We all grew up and went our separate ways. Bill was off to Clarkson University in upper state New York and then into the nuclear core of the U.S. Navy, where he remains today, presently out to sea with the rank of Captain. Wayne found college life wasn’t for him and joined the U.S. Air Force where he had a very long and decorated career. He’s retired from the military, but is back at the Wright Patterson base in Dayton, Ohio, as a civil servant. I went around the world in my studies and early career, ultimately settling back home in Vermont, just a stone’s throw from where the three of us grew up.

All of this sibling talk is making me realize that we really need to make a point of getting together much more often. I’ve no opinion on whether or not there should be a national holiday to celebrate siblings. It all seems a bit too Hallmark-ish for me.  However, I am very thankful to have taken this time to reflect on my relationship with my two brothers. And I’m pretty darned lucky to be stuck with them. 

From the Mailbag 2

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How’s It Going? And, By the Way, What’s a Blog?
The other day, my neighbor asked me: “How’s it going, now that you’re a quarter of the way through?” He was, of course, asking about my resolution not to drink alcohol this year. “Aren’t you following my blog?” I asked in return. “What’s a blog?” he replied.

If you knew my neighbor, you wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear that he didn’t know what a blog was.  After all, his pickup truck is vintage 1980s.  What was surprising, however, was that I had trouble coherently and succinctly summing up how I feel about my resolution thus far. What stumped me is that I didn’t have any expectations going into this. I had made the decision to do it on extremely short notice and just jumped in head first with the resolution and the blog, all at once.

After not making sense for a few seconds, I went into the details about my weight loss so far, my running goals, and so on.  My neighbor interrupted and offered: “So, it’s been positive?” I had no hesitation, saying: “Yes. Yes. Absolutely. It’s very positive. I’m at the point where I’m not sure I will drink again when 2015 rolls around.”

Wow. I didn’t see that coming. Did you?  So, for the curious who’ve asked, here are some other Q’s and A’s related to this project:

How Much Was the Weight Loss From Not Drinking vs. Other Reasons?
The first 8 pounds I lost was solely from not drinking. In the beginning, I purposefully did not want to change anything else, including my diet or exercise routine. Without a purposeful diet, I would not have lost any additional weight.

I lost another 8 pounds (and counting) by sticking maniacally to a daily calorie goal that I track in an app called MyFitnessPal. My daily goal of 1,200 calories allows me to lose 1-1.5 pounds per week.  I input everything I eat into the app. When I exercise, I also input that into that app and earn more calories for that day. If I eat too much, I exercise more.  It’s that simple.  Despite the simplicity, it can be very difficult to be completely honest with yourself about how much you have eaten. But if you honestly use the app every day, it will work.

Not drinking is the single-most important factor in my weight loss, for several reasons. Taking those empty calories off the table has made a tremendous difference. In the past, one glass of wine could lead to another glass and that could lead to eating things I didn’t need to eat. Also, I am now able to exercise at night, something I never could have done after drinking wine at dinner.

What Are the Unexpected Benefits From Not Drinking?
This is a great question.  From a general health standpoint, what I noticed within days is that I was getting better quality sleep and was sleeping through the night much more often than before.  Over time, I also started to feel more mentally alert and more confident. Because not drinking has led to losing weight and allowed more time for reading and writing, I also feel happier and more balanced.

Have You Experienced Clearer Thinking?
Yes. Definitely. It is particularly acute when I am around other people who are drinking. It’s a strange sensation of being very present and keenly aware of what is going on.

What’s Up With that Ideal Weight Calculator?
In my last post, I talked about so-called “ideal weight” and used this calculator to confirm that my weight loss goal was realistic. I received feedback from several guys, all of whom felt the calculator was off for them and seem to be reporting unrealistically low weights. One of them even said it reported his weight from 8th grade as ideal! A few of these guys are very muscular. Therefore, I’d like to recommend that they focus on percentage of body fat, rather than weight. Here’s info from Livestrong about that and here’s a body fat calculator.

Also, I want to caution that research indicates women tend to under-estimate their ideal weight, while men tend to over-estimate it.

Regular followers of my blog may recall that my first “From the Mailbag” post answered several other questions back in late February, including “why did you really start this blog?” Check it out if you haven’t already.

And, please keep the questions coming. I promise to answer each and every one.

Ideal Weight?

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People are starting to notice that I’ve lost weight. Judging by their reactions, the first 10 pounds disappeared without much fanfare, but it was the next five that seemed more apparent to everyone, including me. That’s pretty much how the process went too:  10 pounds were relatively easy to lose and the last five took much more commitment and focus.  And I have five more to go.

One of my friends who hadn’t seen me in a while said the other day: “Wow! You look great! Don’t lose anymore.” Although that’s a positive reaction and one that I was initially happy to hear. The “don’t lose anymore” bit has been stuck in my craw. I’ll tell you why.

I think I am a pretty good judge of my own weight and that my goal of losing 20 pounds is realistic and healthy. When I topped out at 165 pounds, I was clearly overweight. And, when I began this year at 158 pounds, it was evident that I still had quite a bit of weight to lose.  Photos confirm this, as did the many tight or impossible-to-wear clothes in my closet.

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(Above: Me with Karl Roemer, my high school soccer coach, last summer. I weighed 155 pounds at the time.)

My whole life, I’ve heard things like “You have those soccer legs” or “You have a big frame and carry weight well” and the like. Actually, I don’t have a big frame.  I have a medium to small frame, something I just confirmed by consulting several websites. The first suggested that I take my fingers on my right hand and wrap them around my left wrist. Since I can go all the way around and then some that indicates a small to medium frame.  This other website claims that the best way is to actually measure your wrist. My wrist is 6.25 inches around, also indicating that I have a small to medium frame. 

I’m talking about my body frame, because that is one of the key inputs that helps to establish “ideal weight.” Reflecting back on my weight through the years, I consider 135 pounds to be ideal.  And, as you know, my goal this year is to weigh 138. Because of my friend’s comment, I took some time to confirm that my goal is reasonable.

After my sophomore year of college, I went on a serious diet for the first time, in order to lose what I had gained resulting from the combination of a serious soccer injury and typical college drinking. Before that diet, I weighed about 160 pounds. I lost the weight and swore I would never weigh over 140 pounds again.  I kept that promise until things went a little wacky after being treated for a serious thyroid disease about 12 years ago.

Fast forwarding to today, I now weigh 143. Losing 5 additional pounds would put me at my goal of 138. Even though I know through experience that it is a good weight for me, I did research on “my ideal weight.” That’s how I found this nifty Ideal Weight Calculator.  

Self-described this way: “The Ideal Weight Calculator computes the ideal body weight as well as a healthy body weight range based on height, gender, and age. People have pursued an ideal weight formula for centuries, and hundreds of formulas and tables have been created. However, there is still no definite answer regarding the ‘best’ weight for a person. However, the results obtained by most formulas are very good. The Ideal Weight Calculator provides the results of all the popular formulas for comparison purposes.”

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(Above: My results using the “Ideal Weight Calculator”)

When I plug in my age, gender and height, these four methods of determining ideal weight come up with a very small range of between 134 and 138 pounds. And, very interestingly, this other website uses a database of survey responses to indicate an ideal weight. Halls, M.D. believes that ”almost all ‘ideal body weight’ websites use obsolete formulas or tables created in 1979 or earlier” and that his page tells “what people just like you think about their ideal weight.” Guess what? People just like me evidently think their ideal weight is 136, which happens to be right in between the range indicated by all of those “obsolete formulas.”

At any rate, I’m pleased that this exercise confirmed what I already knew to be true. Not only is my goal of weighing 138 pounds realistic, it is very close to my ideal weight. It may not be easy to lose these last 5 pounds, but at least I’m not crazy or unhealthy for trying.