My Mom was an amazing woman. She was smart, beautiful, kind, and cared about everyone she came into contact with. She was a dedicated junior high school teacher in the South Bronx in New York City and spent an incredible amount of her time taking care of her kids. She called all her students her kids. She loved them and they loved her. She was just an awesome person.
My mother however was not perfect- none of us are. She had an obsessive relationship with her body and a rigid relationship with food. Her meals and her diet were macrobiotic vegan and she was unwilling to waver and eat a piece of cake or drink a glass of wine or eat nachos or anything not considered healthy once in a while.
She also had an obsession with a number. The number.
A very petite 5’2″ and 112 pounds, my mother believed that she should weigh 108 pounds. For as long as I can remember, every morning she would wake up, pull the scale out from under her armoire, step on it, curse and kick it back under. She hated that scale. She hated being 112 pounds. And so she obsessed. She did everything she possibly could to lose those 4 pounds. She ordered Sweatin to the Oldies, the Abdominizer, the Gazelle, Oxycise and other things that I forget and probably never knew about. And keep in mind, we had a small apartment in NYC, not a lot of room for these devises and contraptions. But she was a woman obsessed and the elusive 108 lbs was the object of her desire.
I remember her routine of cursing and kicking the scale as early as age 4. She did this for my whole life. By the time I was 28, my Mom became ill. Very ill in fact. Not from her food issues, but from a random autoimmune disease that life threw her way. She lost a lot of weight very quickly. Her whole body deflated. She was nothing more than bones with skin hanging on it. I think that her final weight in her hospital bed was 68 pounds. But that number, 108, it haunted her for most of her life. She was never quite satisfied with what she had because she was fighting so arduously for 108. But then, at 54 years old, her life was over. And she never got to her “goal weight.”
What the hell is a “goal weight?” It makes me so mad. It makes me SO mad. Because it makes me think of my mother and her obsession with her goal weight, and her inability to be happy with a body that worked. A goal weight is an arbitrary number that’s not grounded in reality. Who tells you what your goal weight should be? How is that realistic?
If you are a normal weight, and your body holds onto it, despite what you do to it, you have to know that this is a healthy response from a healthy body. You are blessed. A healthy body wants to maintain the homeostasis.
You can run millions of miles, you can binge, you can starve, you can purge, you can diet, you can use laxatives, but no matter how much you abuse your body, a healthy body will do what it can to maintain the homeostasis.
So throw out your scale. Throw out your goal weight. Your goal should be health. Your goal should be a long healthy life with love, with adventure, with fun, with pain, with sorrow, with self love, with self criticism, with anger, with sadness, with joy, with excitement, with ups, with downs. But your goals should have nothing to do with sizes and numbers.
If you are healthy, your body will do what it can to get to its healthy number, and that might have nothing to do with what the BMI says, or with what Hollywood says or with what Met Life height and weight chart says. When your body is healthy, it knows where it should go. All you have to do is treat it with love and respect. Feed it, exercise it, water it. Give it lots of fruit, lots of veggies, lots of protein, and even let it have a piece of cake or slice of pizza or a glass of wine every now and again.
I know it’s not this simple. It wasn’t for my Mom, nor for many, many people. But it’s your one life. Take just one day or even one week if it’s doable to let go of your number and embrace health.