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Weight loss and the Grand Scheme of Things

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Old 12-23-2011, 06:47 AM   #1
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Default Weight loss and the Grand Scheme of Things

I'm sort of moving into mid-life. My b-day is in January and I'll be thirty. I'm okay with getting older - in fact, I love it. I was typically very depressed and sad in my teens and twenties. Now, I have occasional emotional days, but I don't have to battle the constant drama in my head.

As I was out for my morning jog today I happened to pass two very thin older women also jogging (or, rather, I think they passed me!). They were absolutely rail thin. Their faces were sunken in, hollow, they weren't smiling at all. They didn't look like they were enjoying themselves. In fact, even if I squint, I can't really imagine their faces ever look joyous.

I sort of had an epiphany - a very sad feeling erupted in me. This level of thinness is totally accepted, if not expected, in younger adults. But in older adults, where it obviously takes more effort and strain, it seems extreme. I suppose there is a double standard there.

What I saw in their faces were years of trying to be and remain thin. I suppose that is why it frightened me - I am torn about how much I think about body and weight. I do think about other things, but I cannot deny that the body, in particular my body, is a particular focal point in my life.

I don't know these women. I suppose they are healthy. I don't even know what I'm trying to explain here. Maybe you guys can help me flush it out.

I think they sort of served as a mirror to me and my future, namely how I don't want that future to look.
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Old 12-23-2011, 07:49 AM   #2
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I think you hit the nail on the head with the double standard thing. Women are meant to be thin (and thus desirable) while we are young, and then, when we get old, it's better to be 'normal' sized and invisible because when you get old you're no longer an object of desire. (pfft!)

It is, in fact, healthier (statistically speaking!) to be slightly plumper for a woman as you age, for a variety of reasons.

I too get scared that I will spend my whole life worrying so much about how I look, and forgetting to enjoy the moment.
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Old 12-23-2011, 08:26 AM   #3
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I know what you mean. Two reasons that I decided on a higher goal weight this time around are 1) it takes too much effort and sacrifice as we get older to maintain a low weight; 2) as women get older, many of them (including me) lose fat from their face, and we need a bit of weight on us so that the fat loss isn't so dramatic that we look haggard.

As for the focus being on body and weight, that definitely happens to me to, especially on a week like this when I'm out of school for holiday break. The one thing that I find has helped me is to deliberately focus on other important things in life (in my case, I'm trying to develop my character and learn more about the Lord by daily bible reading); volunteering often helps to take the focus off of one's self.
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Old 12-23-2011, 09:19 AM   #4
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Well, as an older woman I can tell you that, whether you want it to or not, stuff is going to start to sag and not look as vibrant as it did at 30. And yes, it is a LOT more work to try to stay in shape... that's for sure. But there is still a lot of green pasture on this side of the hill. Maybe these women can look more joyous than you would think.

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Old 12-23-2011, 09:37 AM   #5
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I'm 35 in Jan and I can definitely notice a change in my body since I hit 30! I know it's only 5 years but that could also be after having 2 children as well. I am much more saggy, and the weight is coming off slower than it did in my late 20's....but I'm also thinking ahead and building up my lean muscle now which really helps when your older to staying in shape. It really helps with bone density loss too I guess it's just accepting where our bodies are now and realizing that we are restricted to some point by age, metabolisim, childbirths etc. life expereinces really.

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Old 12-23-2011, 11:12 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by rocket pop View Post

I too get scared that I will spend my whole life worrying so much about how I look, and forgetting to enjoy the moment.
That is what I meant. The message was not to put down older bodies or the aging process. It is more about living a life worth living - the super-slim older women actually had what I have been trying to achieve, technically. They could represent me, hypothetically, down the road.

But my goal to be slender is actually quite silly in the long run. Instead, there should be health. There should be muscle. There should be fat. I'd rather see an older woman not striving to be model-thin, but one who values health, and enjoys eating, and has other things on her mind.

I actually think one reason why this website works so well is because there are many older, more insightful perspectives that keep an important check on the younger, more spontaneous, less patient, less realistic opinions. And in no way do I mean to say the body becomes less appealing when it ages - it changes, yes, but I still see it as valuable and honorable.
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Old 12-23-2011, 12:26 PM   #7
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It's very hard to not let this process consume you. I often have to remind myself that my body is not the most important thing. If I don't lose anymore weight, the world will not end. I'm not going to die of large thighs.

There are always trade-offs. Did anyone else see the diet and exercise plan Adriana Lima followed this year to prepare for the Victoria's Secret fashion show? It was pretty extreme. Even if I was able to do it (and I'm not) and would look like a supermodel if I did (which I wouldn't), I still don't think I'd be willing to live like that. Granted, the pre-fashion show weeks don't represent her typical daily habits, but it gives outsiders some perspective on what it actually takes to look like that.

In the beginning I decided that I'd rather be 125ish pounds and able to still live like a normal person than 115 or less and a slave to a strict diet and exercise regimen. In real life, no one wins an award for least body fat. Once you're somewhere in the neighborhood of healthy (and many of us are), it's all relative. The benefits of losing an additional 10 or fill-in-the-blank pounds become purely aesthetic. At a certain point pride and vanity need to be tempered with practicality and "bigger picture" thinking.
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Old 12-23-2011, 02:02 PM   #8
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Another thought-provoking thread, Unna.

I picked my goal weight of 125 because that's what I weighed after losing a lot of weight in college and I remember feeling thin at that weight. But that was 30 years ago!! I honestly don't know if I could sustain that weight, assuming I get there. I've already had people tell me I've lost enough, but this is clearly not true. I think it's a response to the big change in my appearance because I was so heavy before but maybe, as lin43 noted, it's that my face has gotten sort of disproportionately thin and that's what people see.

I'd like to get to a point where I feel good about myself. I want to get to a weight I can sustain with reasonable eating habits and daily exercise. I'm hoping I'll know when I get there.
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Old 12-23-2011, 02:18 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Unna View Post
But my goal to be slender is actually quite silly in the long run. Instead, there should be health. There should be muscle. There should be fat. I'd rather see an older woman not striving to be model-thin, but one who values health, and enjoys eating, and has other things on her mind.
It doesn't matter what you want to see, though, any more than it matters what you want to see in 25-year-old women, or what some 60-year-old guy you've never met wants to see in you, you know?

I think you're making a lot of ungrounded assumptions here. (eg "Has other things on her mind"? Really? You know this is not the case... how? You'd be offended, and rightfully so, if someone implied that about you.)

And I'm guessing that part of the negative stuff you're seeing in these older women is tied up in your upcoming birthday.

Last edited by MariaMaria : 12-23-2011 at 02:22 PM.
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Old 12-23-2011, 02:32 PM   #10
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What a great thread! And I thought mid-life was when you turned 50. ;p

I'll be turning 50 next year and with each passing decade my goal weight increases by 10 pounds. In my 20s I wanted to weigh 120, my 30s 130, and in my forties it changed to 140 (if I can get into a perfect size 6 when I hit 150, that'll be my new goal...lol). But it changed for good reason. For a very short time in my early 40s I got down to 130 pounds. I was a size 3/4 and looked terrible. I had what they call lollipop head, where your head looks bigger than your body. I was being mistaken for my then 14-year-old daughter who was 20 pounds lighter than me (working out had gotten my muscles so lean that I was wearing the same size as my daughter at the time).

But my face looked gaunt, my butt was pancake flat and my breasts barely filled my B-cup bras. Plus, I felt like I had to really starve to stay there.

In my profile picture here I weighed 140 pounds and was a size 4/6 and feel I look so much healthier at that weight. Not only did it not exaggerate my wrinkles more, but when you've lost a considerable amount of weight, your skin sags more and looks more crepe the more you lose. Exercise can only tighten up so much.

My mom is 72 years old and works really hard at staying thin. I don't want to be obsessed like her at her age. I'm doing that now and have been since I was 15 years old. That's no way to live. I pray that when I get to my goal weight, whether it be 140 or 150, that I can just be happy being healthy and not obsess with losing more. Maybe just concentrate on keeping toned instead of living by what the number says on the scale, you know?

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Last edited by sandcar150 : 12-23-2011 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 12-23-2011, 02:47 PM   #11
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Being older, (46) and working very hard to maintain my 190 pound weight loss, I can say this with no reservation...Exercise sucks. I don't smile and joyously prance around the neighborhood in designer running clothes. I don't put on makeup and look joyous and beautiful when I'm working out. I look pretty much like a freak. When I'm not fixed up, I can look pretty awful, but on the other hand, I can fix up pretty well!

These older woman jogging might be like me, used to be obese gals trying to stay healthy so that they can enjoy old age with their children/grandchildren. Maybe they only do it a few hours a week...or maybe a few hours a day, who knows? You get to a certain point where it's no longer about vanity and looks, and everything about living a healthier longer life. I think that is why it stuck with me this time.

Now, what really makes me sad is when I see young women working so hard to lose weight and all the while they smoke and drink excessively, doing way more life long damage than a few extra pounds could do...all in the name of vanity.

Last edited by Lori Bell : 12-23-2011 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 12-23-2011, 04:05 PM   #12
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Lori Bell: loved the honest post! I live in a university town and I always avoid the jogging routes that the "pretty" girls are on - their outfits match, they simply leave their long shiny hair down to flow in the wind as they run, full makeup...... not me - I'm on the other side of town with "the others". My ponytail is crooked, my shoes barely match!

January Snow and sandcar150: I feel like you guys really hit the nail on the head. I have nothing against these women, I never said they were unattractive. They were simply thin in a way that was extreme. The only problem I have is the feelings it conjured in my head - I don't want to be consumed now or later with thinness and I have to be super careful to not let that happen. My Mother, while never reaching 'thinness', had a lifelong obsessive diet effort. I have to find some sort of healthy, moderate ground.

Maybe I always thought it was natural for people to outgrow weight obsessions - but the more I think about it, I realize that I'm not outgrowing it. I may never outgrow it. But I need to do something.

Steph7409: Just wanted to say I do know a lot of women your age and height that look great at that weight - depends on skeletal structure. I feel the same as you - I want to know where consistent healthy eating (no overeating!) and exercise takes me. That is sort of an epiphany that suddenly hit me over the past couple weeks.

Last edited by Unna : 12-23-2011 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 12-24-2011, 11:33 AM   #13
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I think a "gift" I received by spending 20 years 100 lbs heavier is how reasonably at peace I am with my current weight. I am now at the same weight that had me obsessed/in tears/eating disordered in my teens and twenties. But know that I know what really fat feels like, I can not wake up every morning figuring out my mood for the day based on "how fat I feel". Would I like to lose 20 more pounds? **** yes. Does it rule my life and mood? Not for a single minute.

P.S. Does anyone smile while running?
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Old 12-24-2011, 12:01 PM   #14
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I would caution to make such assumptions. There are women who have been 'rail thin' their whole lives because their chosen sport is endurance cardio and/or they just have a small structure and don't eat enough, not always intentional. As current or former fat girls we need to be cautious to assume that all people think of food/fitness like us - that there is ANY sort of vanity component to it. I live in French Canada and most women are 'rail thin' due to the lifestyle of not eating much (but when you do, it's fattening foods), smoking, alcohol, etc. They simply don't have the same train of thought - they do a lot of cardio and don't eat much.

For all you know, these women could be running because they think it's healthy for them and they are thin because they just don't eat a lot, not out of any sort of vanity or strive to do "X" but just because they are what they are. That's a hard concept for a lot of women with food issues to accept - that women can hate exercise and not eat much because they just do and not for any motive.

Until age 20, I hated running but still did it around the block a few times, I was 'rail thin' (at 90lbs), and had zero food issues. Zero. Never stepped on a scale, never hated the mirror, I just was what I was. I had no comprehension of why other women could be fat or have food issues, because I had never experienced it. There are lots of older women like this too.

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Old 12-24-2011, 03:57 PM   #15
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There are a lot of assumptions.

If you are fat you are lazy. Nobody ever assumes you used to be fatter.

If you are thin you are either lucky and naturally thin or you are obsessed.

If you are smiling you are happy and peaceful. Nobody ever puts on a happy face for the outside world while dying on the inside.

If you have a grouchy face you are miserable.

I know this from experience that when I am not ACTIVELY smiling my face relaxes into a frown. It always has. If I am thinking hard I look pissed off. Like people avoid me because I look like I could kill someone pissed off. If I am distracted I look worried or on the verge of tears. If I am tired I look depressed.

So I am going to give some alternatives to you.

They are significantly older and passed you while running. Maybe they LOVE running. I do. LOVE IT. I race. Which means I train. And when I train hard it takes a focus that does not allow anything to be on my face but seriousness. See above. Looks could kill. I'm sure I look in agony. I know lots of older runners. And yes they tend to have low body fat that unfortunately ages the face.

They were running together. Do you know what my running partners and I do when we run together? We talk about everything that really matters. Including the problems we have in our lives. I ran with a friend the day she told me about the death of her neice. Because getting out together was a form of community that only a few people can offer eachother. It is the runners equivalent of being there. Maybe that was a really bad day and they were out giving comfort in their friendship.

When you reach a certain age as it has been said "you have to choose between your face and your butt - they can't both look good" Maybe they are naturally thin/have been thin their whole lives and it is telling on their face (and as an aside if they are in the 60-80 range there was no real sunscreen use in their youth which probably isnt helping)

Maybe they are nasty sour old biddies and it doesnt matter HOW much they weigh they would have a nasty look on their face and be miserable.

We cant know.
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