AIM: Through Thick and Thin

Writer Rex Harris describes yin-yang as “…a synthesis of mutually dependent polar forces. Each force exists only in relationship to its opposite, each is ‘completed’ by its opposite…”
Take, for instance, a monarch caterpillar. It weighs 8 grams by the time it spins its cocoon. When it emerges as a butterfly, it weighs a mere half-gram. The caterpillar and the butterfly are opposite in composition and yet the same being, existing only because of its opposite.
Caterpillars and butterflies have no understanding of their changing

body structure. They just do what nature intends. We, on the other hand, consciously witness our changing bodies, and not without a great deal of angst and critique. It’s not easy seeing the butterfly for the caterpillar.

I struggle these days with my thick and thin, my yin and yang, my body as one being, yet of differing compositions. There was a point, however, at which I felt balance.
At 300 pounds, I was a size 32 and never dreamed, as I watched my 17-year-old daughter graduate from Army basic training in 2002, that I would fit into her size 7 class As. At 138, I did.
At 300, I refused to get in an aluminum boat and join my husband fishing. At 135, he took me canoeing for the first time.
At 300, a man leered at me and said he “…liked my women big” like me. At 130, Today’s Natalie Morales told me, “Your legs are like toothpicks!”
At 300, I began my journey and read Bob Greene’s book Get With The Program. At 132, I met him in person.
Then, during my first year of maintenance, my body morphed to 125 pounds, a weight at which I was cold all the time and my joints ached. I won’t deny that I liked the litheness of 125 pounds, feeling like a feather and knowing there was nothing to “suck in” in my middle. But I shivered when it was 80 degrees, and reaching for a bowl in a cupboard high up was painful. I also missed my B cups.
When we were discussing our next topic, Lori asked if we had a “settling weight,” a weight at which we are not striving so desperately to maintain. A weight at which our minds were more at ease. I’ve thought a lot about that, and have wondered if I’m at my settling weight – 155 pounds and filling a C cup – or if I’m merely settling for this weight. The truth is that right now, I feel thick, not thin. I was physically more comfortable in the 130s.
So does that mean that the space within 5 pounds of 135 is my yin weight? Is that the weight at which I exist in relation to my opposite and am completed by my 300-pound yang weight? And if that is true, what do I do with these 15-20 extra pounds? How do I think about them?
While I believe I have the power to find and stay at any weight, despite the physical forces of menopause and arthritis, I’m not sure how badly I want to use that power. I feel thick, yes, but I also feel free from uber preoccupation with my weight for the first time in more than seven years. Maybe there is balance within the thickness, just as there is in the thinness of 130-140.
Maybe. But I know me, and I know I need to be mindful of what constitutes balance and what are outright excuses because I’m the queen of excuses. And excuses won’t help me find what is real and true; where I am complete and the butterfly emerges.
Do you have a settling weight or are you just settling? Where do you find balance?
Read what the other AIM members are writing about this topic through the links below.
AIM: Adventures in Maintenance is Lynn, Lori, Debby, Shelley, and Cammy, former weight-loss bloggers who now write about life in maintenance. We formed AIM to work together to turn up the volume on the issues facing people in weight maintenance. We publish a post on the same topic on the first Monday of each month. Let us know if there is a topic you’d like us to address!

15 thoughts on “AIM: Through Thick and Thin

    I see so many woman who look amazing at 50+ and 60+ and when I find out what they do—Ive so often thought D*MN THEY LOOK GREAT. Ill never look that great 🙂 I dont want to use my “power” in the gym for that long….

  2. I wonder if the settling point changes depending on where we are in life. There are those times where weight loss seems to take priority and other times it does not. I also think it has to do with exhaustion of working to keep the weight off. Sometimes you just have to give for a little while (or I do at any rate).

  3. My maintenance weight is a lot more based on disease prevention, with some mind body connection thrown in. I maintain to keep my insulin levels low. Good for keeping diabetes at bay and tumor growth minimized. I eat certain good and not others and strength train for bone Heath. I don't eat wheat so as to lower inflammation and keep my immune system in a good state. If there is any chance at all for escaping MS and not turning on the phenotype with the genotype , it's a low inflammatory diet.
    I eat foods that nourish and don't turn into binge trigger foods. That takes my mind away from my daughter. As a single parent , it takes time away from us. My lighter body means I can be more active with her, strong to paddle a kayak and carry suitcases on a trip.

    I keep my weight in a certain range so that my money , body , and mind are used for my relationship with others and not for trying to dig my way out of medical treatments and bills and chronic pain.

    There's a balance for everyone. it goes beyond the scale , but feeling good and having the health balance is worth the work to eat healthy. No amount of junk food in moderation is worth upsetting the balance and weighing a lot more for me. There's too much life to live in a good place in my body, mind, soul.
    Great topic, as always. Karen P.

  4. I think that I was most comfortable with my body when I was 130lbs.

    After I had my son (6yrs ago) I went up to 180lbs, and now, I am very close to 145lbs…

    I think I look fine now.. but, I don't want to settle with fine…

    I want to be happy.
    And, I'm not sure if that's based on a number, or how I look in the mirror…

    It's a hard balance.

  5. I'd forgotten about being cold all the time, but YES – I was wearing sweatshirts in the summertime if I wasn't doing something where I was active.

    I think it's important to know how much we're willing to focus on losing weight (again!) vs. maintaining where we are now…sometimes, there's so much other good stuff going on in life that being stringent about diet just isn't front and center – and that's ok. You (and I) still look like normal people now. 🙂

  6. Love your analogies! I'm reminded of a quote I once heard along the lines of, “To become a butterfly, a caterpillar must first go through a yellow, sticky, gooey mess phase.” I think we often spend too much time in that phase when the wonderful world of butterflies is right front of us. 🙂

  7. I totally get this. Yes, I could “settle” for a weight that is fairly easy for me to maintain. But I've learned that it's not the weight at which I am most comfortable hiking or biking. It's also not the weight at which I feel best when we travel. Since those things are my passion and since I live with a spouse with whom I plan to do many more years of this activity and since I have a chronic illness (rheumatoid disease) which could at any time stop me from doing much of anything active, I CHOOSE to “settle” at a weight 10-15 pounds lower than the “easy” one. I want to give myself every chance for many more years of hiking, biking and traveling. If nothing else, common sense tells me that the less weight I force on my joints, the better off I'll be. Love these AIM posts!

  8. I'm so grateful to have the voice of experience in your AIM posts. I am still in search of a goal or a settling weight. I don't know how low I should try to go, and what I hear you saying is that I won't know what works until I get there. Your introspection helps me realize that I have all of the answers…If I'm freezing at 110 lbs, then that's probably not for me. If I feel great at 130 and am happy to eat a burger once a week, then that's fine. We are the ones who know the most about our bodies…not charts, not doctors, not sizes in clothes.

    My counselor said, “You should weigh what you want to weigh.” At first, I thought she was nuts. Now I realize, that statement gives me ALL the power.

  9. Oh wow. I can see now why Lori told me to keep my eyes open for this month's topic. I'm dealing with whether I want to settle in a good way, or settle in a bad way.

    Thank you for sharing your point of view. It's given me something to think about.

  10. Great post and thoughtful responses. I resonate with Karen't position that maintenance weight is based on disease prevention so that we free up energy to enjoy life more. I eat healthy and exercise regularly so that the arthritis does not take over!

  11. Great post, I really feel what your saying about your comfortable weight. For me, I felt so much more comfortable at 135 than I do now, but for some reason I'm having trouble accepting that I can get to that weight again :S

  12. Leah, let me know what you decide 🙂

    Helene, do you eat according to a specific dietary recommendation to reduce inflammation?

    Erica, sounds like we're of the same mindset. Envisioning 135 again is like looking through smoke. I can't (or won't) see it. Hmmm…

  13. I love these posts & sorry so long to write.

    I really like this point of yours: Maybe. But I know me, and I know I need to be mindful of what constitutes balance and what are outright excuses because I’m the queen of excuses. And excuses won’t help me find what is real and true; where I am complete and the butterfly emerges.

    I think is a very VALID point. Yes, we don't want to live deprived BUT we also have to know that we got heavy for a reason & there has to be some balance & we have to know our own excuses vs. what is right for us.

    I do a lot to stay the way I am at 55 & thru the craziness of hormones BUT I also enjoy my treats & bread too. I sacrifice some things bit not others & these are choices I have made for me.

    We all have to do what is right for us.. Great post!

  14. AIM sounds like a great idea Lynne, at the minute I'm comfortable with my weight for the first time in about a decade lol. 132lbs which has took me such a long time to get to 🙂

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