What is Your “Cringe Weight”?

I need your help (no, not THAT kind of help, as in rubber rooms and straight-jackets, although there are days…).

We all gain and lose weight differently. Some people were thin in childhood and became overweight or obese after college or the birth of a baby. Some people were overweight all their lives. No matter how we gain or lose, I believe we have more in common than not.

A chapter in my book (yes, I’m still writing that sucker) deals with that one weight that, when I hit it on the way up and down the scale, I’d feel it more (both physically and emotionally) than any other. You know the number I’m talking about? Do you have one?

I gained and lost the same 20, 30, 50+ pounds for 22 years, but it was that one number – 200 – that made me either roll my eyes and promise to diet again when I was going up the scale or rejoice and promise never to return when I was going down the scale. Even though my scale number had gone much higher, to nearly 300 pounds, 200 was “the best of times; it was the worst of times,” to quote one of my favorite books (bonus points if you guess the right one).

I’m trying to figure out if I’m alone in this or if more people than just me have a revolving number that they keep/kept spinning endlessly around in. Is there a weight at which you roll your eyes and promise to diet again only for the weight to creep back on and hit it again? How did/does it make you feel? What changes have you made, if any, that will ensure you’ll never see that number again?

You don’t have to write a novel-length answer. This isn’t for a grade or credit, just some informal research. Post a comment or send me an email to lynnbering@verizon.net.

I appreciate your perspective in helping me understand the intricacies of a “cringe weight.” The more I write about weight and the more I get to know people dealing with weight issues, the more complicated and simple the problem seems all at the same time.

NOTE: I’ll be out of town tomorrow through Sunday, so there will most likely not be any new blog posts before Monday. I’m heading to Louisville for a weekend of debauchery, I mean clean fun with my husband’s Purdue friends. They may have graduated a long time ago, but they party like it’s 1969.

30 thoughts on “What is Your “Cringe Weight”?

  1. Oh, the cringe weight! Excellent point here, Lynn. I think mine would have to be 180. In high school and college, that number indicated I needed to get my butt in gear and lose about 15 pounds to be back down to a comfortable weight for my frame. After getting up to 236, that number has remained a beacon to me on my way down. I’ve been longing to see it again. I think it has something to do with the I-can’t-believe-I-thought-I-was-fat-then complex. Most women I know believed they were fat as teenagers and young women, but looking back on photos, they realize they actually looked great. I look back on pictures from spring break 2003 thinking, “I thought I was huge, but I had a six pack! I looked amazing! Why did I beat myself up instead of enjoying it?”

    Getting back to the cringe weight represents a sort of full-circle moment for me. Once I get back to that weight, I’ll be at the point where I thought was obese before I really saw what obese looked and felt like. I have such a different perspective coming to that number now. I will appreciate and celebrate it this time around.

  2. For many years, my cringe weight was 150 (the Freshman 15). I hovered around that weight for years, always wanting to be back to 135. Now, three kids and 10 years later, my cringe weight (or Whoa Nelly!) is 167. I still think of 150 as heavy for me, but 167 is the YIKES!!!! My goal is still the same…135. That may be unrealistic, but I can’t see myself truly satisfied until I reach it. Of course, it’s been 15 years since I’ve been there…

  3. What I prefer to think of as the Weightly Weight was 200. When I started gaining weight (again) about 15 years ago, I passed it and sort of waved goodbye to the 100s, thinking I would never get back there. When I got back to the 100s, I was amazed. Now it’s old hat.

  4. My cringe weight used to be 175. Happy dance on the way down, depths of despair on the way up.

    Now that I’ve lost it, it’s 135.

    And your quote is from ‘A Tale of Two Cities’. 🙂

  5. Scream weight. I read that in one of Barbara’s articles, and thought, hmmm…I haven’t felt like screaming even though my weight’s been creeping up. But when I had to weigh in public (so clothes were on) and saw 170, I knew that was my scream weight. I don’t actually scream, but I do say out loud I DON’T LIKE SEEING THAT WEIGHT!

  6. The first time I made a concerted effort to lose weight, I was about 15 or 16 and the cringe weight was 127. At 4’10”, this is a fair amount of weight.

    Until about 9 years ago, I never exceeded that awful number, and even managed to stay around 115-120 for quite a while.

    Then, all hell broke loose with a move that I did not want and some health issues which kept me off my feet for many months. At one point, I was around 145 and then stabilized at 138-142 for a couple of years. I’m now a smidge under 130 and have made some important changes to the way I eat. I hope to be around 125 by the end of the year. Even if it takes me 2 years to slowly reach my goal of 110, I will be deleriously happy.

    Long story short: 127.

  7. The title of the book is: A TALE OF TWO CITIES, Charles Dickens.

    I would have to say my cringe weight is also 200. In my younger days I would be horrified to see that number on the horizon. And then one day, after two babies, I surpassed it and haven’t seen it in a very long time. Now, after climbing to 300, I’m back on my way down to 200 and never would have thought that number would look so good!

  8. My cringe weight is also 200. I’m most comfortable around 170. 8 years ago, I was 304. I never want to go back there again. I went back up over 200 around the holidays. It was horrible. Nothing fit, I felt so bloated. But with a lot of work, I’m back in the 180’s. Still not where I want to be, but tolerable enough that I don’t obsess about it. I’ll be doing the happy dance when the first 2 numbers on the scale say “17” again!

  9. 170. I am barely under that (167.6 this morning) but to me 170 is the highest I can weigh at 5’5″ and feel normal sized.

  10. I was in such denial for so long (decades?) that no matter what I saw on the scale, it didn’t phase me. I might have been a little embarrassed when I weighed in during a doctor’s visit, but I would just put that number in a secret hiding place in my brain and ignore it. So weirdly, I don’t think I have a “cringe weight.”

  11. What Shelley said, until fairly recently. I felt pretty jazzed to get back under 200 (“onederland” indeed!). I’m still aways from goal, so it’s not so much a “cringe weight” as it is “light-a-fire-under-my-tail weight”. It seems like 3 pounds over whatever my “official” low is triggers that reaction…so 189, currently.

  12. I think the root is just stop focusing on the number and the self loathing and downward spiral of the number. We have to be happy at ANY number because when we “hit” the number we still wont be happy. Thats just my opinion from dealing with so many people re weight loss. Its so key to be happy and at peace with yourself at any weight or else when you get to goal –you still wont be happy. So I accepted myself at 280 because I knew I was so much more than that number, that I was not that weight, that it didnt consume me or own me. I was at peace and I loved discovering the 150 version of me. It all fell into place once I accepted myself. If our life is a garden and our thoughts are the seeds…. if our life isnt awesome we have been watering the weeds. And I plucked that weed out of my mind of self loathing on “the number” as it drove me CRAZY. Again my opinion and experience. Take care

  13. Hi Lynn–will try to make this brief! yes have a cringe weight. Overweight through childhood into puberty. Age 14 hit 176 lbs. First round of dieting down to 138 lb. Traveled between 135 to 155 lb several times through the rest of my teens and into my twenties. 155 was the ‘cringe’ weight that would send me back to a diet program. Thirties with pregnancy and back surgery totally derailed me from my cringe weight and actually between the age of 33 and 40 only hit 155 one time. I was mostly in the 160 and 170’s during that time. After back surgery went all the way to my pregnancy weight of 186!!! And I wasn’t pregnant! Then my final time down the scale–the mind switch happened. I’m at 120 now–I’ve set my cringe weight at 125. Hope that all helps.


  14. I did a post a long time ago on my blog, called “Magic Numbers” that kind of deals with this but going the other way (numbers that mean a lot as you are losing weight). For me, though I think if I were to hit 240 I would flip out and stop eating or do something ridiculous. I have issues… I don’t want to be morbidly obese again!

    Under 200 is always amazing, though 🙂

  15. I have had a few cringe weights. One was 220, I wobbled around that for a while.

    200 was another.

    175 was the biggest problem. The first time I hit that I had the longest plateau ever. I lasted for months and I kind of gave up and gained back up to 200 pounds (that other cringe number).

    When I went back down again, I was so panicky around 175, but this last time I breezed right through it.

    Now my cringe number is 140 – can’t seem to stay below it for very long without popping back up.

  16. I’d say now it’s 135. I did have a brief foray into pregnancy and childbirth, and two years there at 145. But now when I hit 135, all my jeans are too tight.

    Problem is my goal is only 128, so I’m never really “good” enough at eating to make the new habits stick.

  17. Just a quick THANK YOU to all of you who’ve left a comment and sent me email on this subject. It’s interesting how we view ourselves through our weight or “special” number. Wow. I appreciate your candor and helping me understand the breadth of this subject.

  18. I have been overweight my entire life, and 200 was the cringe weight where I told myself I would get on a diet if I ever hit 200! Well, now in my 30s I passed that number just after I met my husband. The good thing is that I haven’t gained weight after having two kids, but now weigh 225…and every time I see a scale and see that number I cringe again! What’s really sad is that 7 months ago I was at 205…but the holidays brought me back up. My health – so that I can see my children grow up – is what motivates me now to lose the weight and hopefully be done with the fluffy body by the time I’m 40. I have never been a slender person, but in my mind I’ve always hoped that by the time I hit 40 I will be slender if only for a short time!

  19. Definitely have one, but it isn’t a weight, since I rarely check the scale (it makes me insane). It is two different pairs of jeans. The super skinny ones are the ‘cringe, okay, I need to just run, hike, bike more often and cut out desserts) and the next pair is the ‘holy shit, okay it is time to reasses’. If I do the scale thing, I freak out too badly.


  20. I am new to you blog, but definately NOT new to weightloss.

    I have lost 70 pounds, and right now anything but my current weight is my “cringe” weight. LOL! Seriously, I refuse to ever be above 175.

  21. My non-obese BMI was very important on the “weigh” down. I actually felt on my body that my body truly had made some serious shift at that weight too. I didn’t feel fat anymore – though I’ve since lost an additonal 30 lbs. On the way up there were SOOO many cringes – 163 as a college student was horrifying. 170-anything in the year or so after I got married. 184 joining WW in my late 30s. 206 joining the diet doctor in 200. And finally 212.5 in Dec 2007 – since then it’s been all down. I’m at 160 now, and at a “healthy” BMI – but looking to shed a wee bit more fat and add a bit more muscle.

  22. Mine would have to be 200 lbs. I got up to 207 in college and wow did that hurt. I was 160 when I graduated from high school. 😦 200 was the magic number that made me start working out more. I am at 183 now and working my way back to 145… (my highschool weight sophomore year)

  23. Whoa. This struck a cord with me big time. After decades of not understanding why I kept gaining weight while knowing what to do I figured it out at age 35 or so. I gained the weight to protect myself after a series of sexual assaults beginning at the age of 13. I now know that I put on the weight to make myself ugly so these things wouldn't happen to me. Even after figuring this out, I couldn't lose the weight for good. I would get to a that “cringe weight”, which for me, was 250 lbs and would be getting compliments and attention. Every time I'd sabatage myself.

    Since beginning this weight loss journey 18 months ago, I did something different. I talked to people about my fears and faced them. Today (litereally this morning), I hit 213 pounds lost which amounts to exactly 100 pounds lost. I conquered it!

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