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Raise Your Hand if You Think This is Realistic | Manolo for the Big Girl

Raise Your Hand if You Think This is Realistic

According to the most healthy-seeming, reputable weight charts, at 5’1″ Francesca is “supposed” to weight between 106 – 132 pounds. At 132 pounds, her BMI would be exactly 25, the most which is considered “healthy” before moving into “overweight.”

For years Francesca has been trying to remember when she last weighed 132 pounds. She knew it was before college, because she remembers, in her first year of university, doing a Jane Fonda tape every day and being very excited to go down from 153 to 145 pounds. (When she graduated from college she weighed 162, and in the 14 years since has gone well over the 200-pound mark.)

Lo and behold, when Francesca visited her dear parents a few months ago, Mamman — who had been busily working on clearing the old home of unnecessary papers — handed Francesca a stack of old school report cards and lovingly asked Francesca to please remove them from the premises. Francesca dutifully took them home and filed them under “Nostalgia.”

This past weekend Francesca went through the report cards, and among them found copies of the school health records as well (proofs of immunizations, that sort of thing). According to the doctor’s report of 1987, Francesca at that point weighed 60 kilograms: exactly 132 pounds.

In other words, at the age of 37, Francesca is expected by her doctor, Weight Watchers, etc to recreate the body she had in tenth grade.

Society is full of people who wish they could fit into their prom dress, and the answer is usually that women are expected to gain weight as they age. The last time Francesca weighed 132 pounds, prom dresses looked like this:

1987 prom dresses

Francesca is intellectually honest. She knows she could take  better care of herself — exercise 4-5 times per week instead of 1-2 times, eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water — and that if she did these things she would be much, much healthier (which is the point) and perhaps lose 10, 20, maybe even 30 pounds (which is beside the point). She would be stronger and better fortified, and still obese at 170-180 pounds. That would be plenty fine with her.

Go down to 132 pounds? Really? Who are we kidding? (Not Francesca, obviously.)

18 Responses to “Raise Your Hand if You Think This is Realistic”

  1. Carrie November 27, 2009 at 10:30 am #

    BMI is such bullshit. I had a body fat analysis done a few years ago. My ideal body weight is 195 pounds. I wish I could get there! If I’m reading the charts right, BMI indicates my weight should be 145. Yeah, right!

    I have a four year old son who doesn’t have an ounce of fat on him. His doctor is always confused that he weighs so much but doesn’t look “disproportionate.” She can’t wrap her mind around the fact that some people have denser bodies and that the charts are made by insurance companies who want an excuse to grab more money.

  2. Deena November 27, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    I’ve just checked my own ideal BMI and at 5ft7 I would have to weigh 159lbs to have a BMI of 25. I was around 159lbs when I was 11- 12 or so.
    I have a distinct memory from the age of 12 or 13 during one modern dance class (I think we were pretending to be raindrops) where the teacher shouted out, “You all need to fall with a lighter step because you sound like you each weigh 12 stone (168lbs). Does anyone here weigh 12 stone?” I could of died but of course I chorussed “Nooooooooo” just like everyone else and tried to do as I was told.

  3. Jessie November 27, 2009 at 11:48 am #

    BMI’s are so off. they dont take in account body shapes,and all sorts of things. I’m 5’3, and it says i need to weigh 118. i weighed 118 when i was in third grade.But I carry my weight well, I dont look it,thanks to genes and big bones,and stuff. They need to create BM*Is for body shapes

  4. Mrs. Hendricks November 27, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    My hand remains unraised. And thanks for your intellectual honesty. I do exercise 4-5 times a week, and while my weight hasn’t gone down by much at all, my knees and back feel a million times better and my range of motion has increased. So thanks for reminding us that taking care of ourselves has all sorts of rewards, usually much more important than that of losing weight.

  5. class factotum November 27, 2009 at 12:19 pm #

    But – but- couldn’t you get to that weight if you were just HUNGRY ALL THE TIME?

    Isn’t that acceptable?

    I don’t mind being hungry.

    Really.

    Besides the fact that I LIKE TO EAT.

    And skipping meals GIVES ME MIGRAINES.

    But besides that.

  6. annie November 27, 2009 at 2:16 pm #

    Hunger is a good thing. It makes the food taste better. I always allow my cats to become quite hungry before feeding them. I can see that they enjoy their meal more this way than if I left food out to be picked at will. I won’t eat anything myself until I’m really hungry.

  7. missm November 27, 2009 at 9:26 pm #

    A few years ago after a physical my doctor called me about some troubling blood work. My white blood cell count came back as, I forget what, but extremely low. She said she wasn’t too worried as I always had been healthy, but I needed to come in right away for a retest. It turned out to be a lab error, but essentially, though, for three or four days it was highly possible I had leukemia. And you want to know what my very first thought was at that news, a thought that surprised even me?
    I can’t BELIEVE I wasted all that time worrying I was fat.

    The point being, of course, that in that moment of clarity I finally realized one’s weight is tantamount to one’s health. As long as you’re as healthy as you can be, who cares what the scale says?

  8. class factotum November 27, 2009 at 10:10 pm #

    Annie, I don’t let my cats get really hungry (that’s mean) and I don’t let them eat at will (that’s irresponsible — mine would eat until they burst). They are fed a fixed amount twice a day. It’s not about whether they enjoy their food; it’s about feline diabetes.

    Humans, on the other hand, are responsible for their own health. If we wish to eat strictly for pleasure or because we are bored or because we are mad, that is our choice. If you wish to wait until you are really hungry, that is your choice. Me? I enjoy chocolate and marzipan whether I am hungry or not.

  9. class factotum November 27, 2009 at 10:13 pm #

    PS And Annie? I don’t think you understand the kind of hunger I am talking about with respect to losing and staying at a weight below what your body wants to be. I am not talking about a “Oh, I am hungry and ready for lunch!” hunger. I am talking about bone-gnawing starving auto-cannibalism hunger. That kind.

  10. theDiva November 27, 2009 at 10:22 pm #

    Hand not raised. I really wonder about those charts. I am 5’3 1/2. Back when I was working out 5x a week (in my 30s) , I had a 23″ waist, wore a size 4 – and weighed nearly 140. Technically, I was obese! Made no sense.

  11. thecanuckian November 28, 2009 at 5:28 am #

    Both hands down. I’ve weighed exactly the same weight regardless of how much I exercise and I’m still in the overweight-obese section of it. And I mean it has been the same from my heaviest (or most fat, I guess) to when I was going to the gym 5 days a week. Strangely, I dropped when I cut down on the gym. This is also why I hate scales and don’t own them.

  12. Margo November 28, 2009 at 10:25 am #

    When I started at my new gym, I had the compulsory intro session with a trainer, and I went in with all my HAES material ready to smack down (politely) any comment that made me uncomfortable. Honestly, I was dreading it (which is weird as I have always had great personal trainers in the past). We got on to BMI, and the big muscle-bound trainer dude? Started trashing it before I had a chance to. Told me in no uncertain terms that, on an individual level, it was of no use to him or me in terms of health maintenance.

  13. Evie November 28, 2009 at 6:25 pm #

    Margo, that’s so awesome! Glad your trainer gets that fitness and health are about SO MUCH MORE than some arbitrary number that doesn’t fit your body shape or composition.

    I went to the doctor a few months ago for a checkup, and was talking to a nurse about my basic stats, including weight. She gives me the big eyebrow raise at my BMI reading, and asks how much exercise I get. I tell her I run three days a week, lift two or three days, and hike or climb on the weekends. Oh, and I bike to and from work. She’s speechless for a few seconds, then asks why I came in. Here’s the real kicker: I tell her I have exercise-induced asthma. I’ve been running for a few years, but can’t seem to get my endurance to a point I’m happy with, so I want to discuss different treatment options. Her eyebrows about twitched off her forehead, then she said I made her feel guilty for not exercising more herself!

  14. Carrie November 30, 2009 at 7:37 am #

    Hi there Francesca!

    It’s Carrie–the one with the Jack Lemmon boyfriend? Anyhoodle-Here I am at 3:32 a.m. in all my sleeplessness and I feel I must comment on this. I read your blog everyday and while I don’t always comment, somethings just cannot be ignored.

    BMI stands for Boring Malevolent Idiodicy (did I spell that right?)

    Anyway, I had a gatric bypass 1 1/2 years ago and went from 460 pounds at 5’8″ to 189.7 as of this morning (pre-shower).

    I am still considered obese. WHAT THE HECK?

    I am of good german stock. Big-boned (I swear!) and am TALL. My bones are sticking out every which way, skin looking like a melted candle and clavicle bones that could cut through steak, but I digress.

    BMI is BULLS***.

    On a side note, I am SOOOO making a T-Shirt. No one steal that!

  15. Jenna November 30, 2009 at 12:51 pm #

    I’m 5’1″. 25 years ago, I had a 22″ waist, wore a size 4-6 – and felt bad about my size because the scale read all of 117.

    Since then, I’ve decided that my blood sugar and blood pressure are the only numbers I’m going to worry about.

  16. JayKay December 1, 2009 at 1:15 am #

    I’m 5’6″…according to what’s “healthy”, I should weight between 117 and 154 lbs. The last time I weighed anywhere close to either of those numbers, I was in college doing competitive gymnastics and diving and not really eating. That was 11 years ago. Now, I work out 4-6 days a week and can easily take on more than one 1-hour class per day…yet, I weigh close to 190. I’d say I probably have about 15-20 lbs to lose, but I am nowhere near morbidly obese like my doctor tells me I am. Hell, I’m a size 10 at most stores!

    My doc goes by the charts. I think the charts are a bunch of bull.

  17. All Women Stalker December 2, 2009 at 11:10 am #

    I think that you should work on losing fat and gaining muscle. Rather than focus on reaching a certain weight and BMI. If you feel good in your body, and you have no health problems (bad cholesterol and all that) then screw what all those charts have to say! Everyone is different.

    -Denise

  18. Deena December 4, 2009 at 8:07 am #

    Jenna- I hear that. I’m through worrying about my BMI- those are far m ore important numbers to concern myself with.