Yes, once again, I want to talk about goal weight. I’ve already recently posted about how I think that having an official goal weight of 146 has had a negative effect on my staying at a weight below 146. The clearest example of this was that I had 6.4 pounds removed through a tummy tuck/breast lift a year ago and I was magically instantly well below my official goal weight. Yes, I needed to eat a little bit fewer calories to maintain it, but that should have been doable. And, yet, I didn’t. And, I think the main reason was that my mind kept thinking that it was OK to be at 146 the top of the normal range and my official goal weight.
I can’t do anything about 146 being the top of the BMI normal range. I can remind myself that BMI is valuable, but isn’t everything. Even with a normal BMI, I am skinny fat with a high body fat percentage for my weight. I have to keep that in mind. But, I can do something about my Weight Watchers official goal weight. As I mentioned earlier, I plan to reset my goal weight as I lose weight below 146. So, if I get to 142 pounds, I would reset my goal to 143 and so on.
But, all of that begs the question: What should the goal weight be that I aim for? I have definitely talked about this more than once on this blog. Sometimes, I go back and read old posts of mine and it reminds me that something has been a long standing issue. In a post a year and a half ago, I talked about goal weight versus ideal weight. At that time, I didn’t come to any firm conclusion. I was worried then about my Weight Watchers goal being at the top of the range having a negative effect on me. But, then, I wasn’t willing to reset it lower. I also knew that I need to lose fat since my body fat is so high. And, I do not build muscle easily at all. I did a full year of strength training and didn’t build significant additional lean mass. I do think I largely maintained what I had and I got somewhat stronger. I think that the weight I lost during that time was fat rather than a mixture of fat and muscle. So, I think the strength training was of benefit for me.
And, theoretically, if I could be at a good body fat percentage at a weight of 146 pounds I would probably be happy with that. But, as we all know, theory isn’t reality. I am not at a good body fat percentage. When last tested I was around 45% which is shockingly high. At a minimum, I would like to be at 35% (and would love to be at 30% or below). At 147 pounds and 45% body fat, I would need to get down to about 125 pounds to be at 35% body fat assuming that 100% of what I lost was fat. I’m not sure that I can make it 100% to lose only fat, but I think the best way for me to get closest to it is to do strength training to preserve lean mass.
Goal Weight Factors
In the end, I think it is hard to say in advance what your goal is. Because, there are two factors that will determine that. One is the weight that I get to and I like what I see in the mirror. This is where the body fat percentage is part of it. That is, if I like what I see then the odds are I will be at an acceptable body fat percentage. But, there is another factor. What weight can I maintain? If I can’t happily maintain a particular weight then it doesn’t matter if it would be ideal.
So, looking at these factors, I can approach the idea of my goal weight.
Right now, I like myself in the mirror more than I have in a long time. Being 148 pounds and skinny fat isn’t ideal. But, I like how that looks a lot more than I like how it looked when was obese in BMI terms. I like how I look now, much better than I liked it when I did that ideal weight post. That post was pre-mommy makeover. All of that loose skin in my abdomen is gone. The underlying muscle has been repaired. The upper abdominal residual fat is gone. Honestly, my abdomen looks better now than it looked when I weighed 119 pounds. For my entire life, I always tended to carry fat in my tummy area, even when I was thin. So, that is all better.
However, I can see where I am skinny fat. The top of my thighs. A little bit of roll on my back. My arms. I also know that I have some visceral fat. Visceral fat is the internal fat in the abdominal area. I know I have that. My waist line is 4 inches or so smaller than it was before surgery, but is still 32″ at the narrowest point. And some of those inches are due to visceral fat. Visceral fat can’t be removed through surgery or through spot exercise. It is removed only by losing body fat through overall diet and exercise. And, visceral fat is the unhealthy stuff and I want to get rid of what I have.
So, yes, I want to be a lower body fat. If I lost fat only and got to 125 pounds and maintained my lean mass I would be about 35% fat. I have been at 125 pounds before. I didn’t have a way to check body fat at the time. However, I took detailed body measurements. I’ve plugged those into some online calculators that use waist and/or hip measurements to help determine body fat. Those say I was at about 25% body fat then. If so, then at 35% body fat and 125 pounds I probably won’t be as small as I was then. But, it would be a whole lot better than now. And, I think I would find it acceptable from a health standpoint and aesthetically would call it good.
The second factor is whether I can get to 125 and whether I can stay there. That…remains to be seen. Since getting back to goal two years ago, I’ve talked about wanting to lose more but didn’t really commit in a sustained way to doing it. I think part of it was that I knew things would be in flux until I got the surgery done. And, for 6 months afterward I was constrained on some activities. But, that time is past and now I can fully commit to trying to get where I want to be.
I think I can lose weight from where I am now. I did at one time get to 125 and it was my goal. Yes, things are different now. I have more body fat so I don’t burn as many calories as I did when I was younger. I am not as active as I was then. Those are negatives. On the other hand, I have way more tools now than I had then. I have my Fitbit, I have the internet to research things. I know more. I have more exercise options. I have more time for exercise than I did at that time in my life. So, I think those things balance out.
I have long said that one lesson I learned from getting to goal back then was that I couldn’t maintain 125 pounds and, therefore, it was too low a goal for me. I am no longer sure that was ever really true. Well, it is true that I didn’t maintain a weight of 125 pounds. But, I wonder now if I failed to acknowledge that my circumstances then were unusual. Right before I got to goal , I had jaw surgery. I could not eat solid food for several weeks. When I completed the 6 weeks maintenance period I was almost 6 pounds below my goal of 125. Nowadays, you can’t be more than 2 pounds below goal at that point, but it was different then.
Now, looking back on it, I basically did not have a normal maintenance period. Under current rules I would not have completed it and become lifetime because I was too far below my goal weight. And, in reality, I never learned maintenance during the maintenance period. I wasn’t eating solid food at all during that time! Soon after I completed maintenance, I started eating soft foods and over a period of a couple of months worked my way up to regular foods. During this time, I gained back up to 125 pounds. Now, I was fine with gaining back to the 125 pounds. That was the weight I wanted to be. I knew that 119 pounds was lower than I wanted to be. But, still, I wasn’t even really eating normally during this period. I was still restricted in what I could eat during a lot of it and I wanted to get back to 125 pounds. I wasn’t really trying to maintain an even weight during this time.
So, by then it was about 4 months post-surgery and post getting to goal. And, during none of that time had I really tried to maintain using the Weight Watchers program and eating the foods I would normally eat.
Of course, when I was cleared to eat anything, I could have then started to learn how to maintain. But, then there was another monkey wrench. I had to go out of town for work for 2 weeks. I was going to be staying in a hotel eating out 3 times a day. And, I was with other people so I didn’t have control over where we ate. I started out trying to do my exchanges (Weight Watchers was an exchange program then), but it rapidly became unmanageable given that I was eating out for every meal. And, honestly, I was craving solid food by then that I hadn’t been able to eat for months. And, the release from all the dieting and food restriction that had gotten me there. So, I went over in what I ate. I didn’t have a scale, so I didn’t know the damage.
I got home and my home scale said I was up 5 pounds. Looking back on it, that was really nothing. A lot of was probably water retention from eating high sodium foods. In any event, I then I could have lost it in a few weeks. But, I didn’t want to go back to Weight Watchers until I lost it. Of course, I didn’t lose it. And, for years, I said this all proved I couldn’t maintain a weight of 125 pounds.
But, looking back on it I never really tried to maintain 125 pounds in a normal eating environment. The period after surgery wasn’t normal. The two week trip out of town wasn’t normal. And, when I got back and was panicked at the 5 pound gain, I didn’t know how to get out of the problem and just gave up way too quickly.
The point is that I don’t know if I could have maintained 125 pounds absent all those unusual events. Maybe I could have. And, more to the point, maybe I could do it now. Maybe it would be no more difficult than maintaining has been for the last 2 years. While I’ve had ups and downs I have been free lifetime for the vast majority of that time.
So What is My Goal?
My provisional goal is 125 pounds or 35% body fat …whichever comes first. Once my post-surgery swelling is gone I am going to have my body fat tested again. I will not be surprised if it has gone up since I haven’t been strength training since April of last year. My surgery removed about half fat and half skin, but the 7 pounds I’ve gained since then is clearly all fat. So I may be higher body fat than when I was tested in 2015. Anyway, I am going to test it probably in a month or so and then get it retested periodically.
I will reset my Weight Watchers goal periodically as I lose weight. The goal of 125 pounds or 35% body fat is provisional because I may get to a point where it is clear that I can’t happily go below that amount. That is, if I got to 130 pounds and was able to maintain that but couldn’t get below that without regaining then I would call it done there.
Some might ask why don’t I do that now since I haven’t been able to get below 146 pounds consistently. Every time I have done it, I have regained. The reason is because I think there have been psychological factors working against me on getting below 146 pounds. I haven’t really been committed to doing it and have leaned too much on it being optional to lose below that. But, really, given my body fat percentage I don’t actually find it optional. And, the fact it is my official goal weight doesn’t change that.