Spry and Spryliving.com editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes–and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.
DEAR FORMER FAT GIRL: The good news: After being overweight all my life (I’m 48), I finally lost about 55 pounds about three years ago through exercise (I’m a walker) and eating less fast food and more veggies and fruits. The bad news: I need to lose 10 pounds more, and I just can’t seem to lose it. Can you help?—Sherry
DEAR SHERRY: Certainly! But first, I have to ask—why do you want to lose 10 more pounds? Is there some magic number you’re trying to hit, because that’s what you weighed in college? Is it something you and your doctor came up with? Or is it just the number you think—for whatever reason—you should focus on? Maybe your body is trying to tell you something. Maybe, just maybe, you don’t need to lose any more weight
Here’s the thing: If you’re doing everything right—eating a healthy diet that you enjoy, staying active in ways you enjoy—then why mess with it? Note that I use the word enjoy. To get to where you want to be (or you think you want to be) you may need to make sacrifices, i.e. put in more time in the gym, cut out that chocolate you look forward to, etc. Are you pressuring yourself to reach a number that will take away from your quality of life?
Maybe your body is comfortable where it is, and your brain just needs to catch up with that. What will losing 10 pounds do for you? Get you into a smaller size of jeans? Make you more confident in your swimsuit? I’m not discounting the importance of this, believe me. Anyone who discounts the relationship between inner and outer beauty, between weight and self-confidence, isn’t facing reality. I just want you to really think about the pros and cons of continuing your battle of the (mini) bulge.
In addition to the potential quality-of-life costs, there may health reasons to keep those 10 pounds around. Some research suggests that as you age, a little extra weight might keep you healthy. For instance, one study found that people in their 70s who slightly overweight were less likely than those of normal weight to die during a 10-year time span. The researchers suspect that an extra 10 to 25 pounds or so might fortify people against illness and injury as they age.
Women who are 10 pounds overweight also tend to have healthier bones, according to osteoporosis researchers. And—get this—a couple of years ago, the Archives of Dermatology published a study that said older women who are overweight appeared younger than those who were normal or underweight. Fat, the researchers said, can combat the sagging that comes with age. Just think about all the money women spend on fillers injected in strategic places to plump up sagging facial features.
This is not to say that, if you are technically obese (defined as having a body mass index—or BMI—of 30 or more), you should stay there. But if you are in a healthy weight range already, it may be time to rethink your goal. If you decide you do want to drop those 10 pounds, click here to check out my tips for ramping up your workout.
And best of luck—whatever you decide.