I’ve learned a lot over the past few months of true recovery, weight gain, and getting my period back. I notice that lots of people, when asking me about my experience and while struggling with their own, are always curious what I weigh. They want to know what I used to weigh, what I weigh now, how much I gained, if I’m still gaining, etc. That, I believe, has a lot to do with the preoccupation with numbers as well as the societal expectation to be skinny. Interestingly, I don’t even know what I weigh!
However, I thought I’d address the topic of what a person should weigh. Please remember I am not a doctor or dietician, and that this is all based on my own experience. Everyone is different and has different goals, but for my goal to recover from my eating disorder and have a properly functioning body, a few specific things helped me along the way.
First off, I don’t know what you should weigh. There probably isn’t any set number and it is dependent on so many things. What I’m going to discuss are two things that have helped me figure out where my body naturally wants to be, and maybe could give you a better idea as well.
When I started to gain weight as a result of my recovery efforts, I hated it. I hated my butt getting bigger, my stomach “pooch” growing, and my love handles. That is where all my weight was going, leaving my upper body largely unchanged (except for a little bit of growth in the boob department which I happily accepted.)
I noticed when I shopped for clothes that I had a hard time finding pants or skirts that fit because the ones that were big enough to go over my butt left a big gap at the waist. Dresses that were small enough on top were WAY too tight on bottom.
When I complained to my mom about these things, she said, “Get used to it honey!”
My body right now is almost identical to my mom’s. I have a teeny bit of boob on her thanks to my grandma on my dad’s side, and she has a big more of a stomach than my because she’s had three babies. But other than that it’s very obvious that I’ve got her genes. And that makes sense. I SHOULD have my mother’s same body type.
I knew this. No matter how frustrated I got with my growing body, I knew it wasn’t “wrong” because it made sense that I would look like my mom. It helped me accept my body, and even love it. There are frustrating things about my body type, but almost any woman can find something they wish were different. My mother is my hero – one of the most compassionate, funny, smart, generous women I know – and I’m proud that I get to resemble her.
PEDIATRIC GROWTH CHART:
When I was home in August I found my pediatric growth chart, which tracked my height and weight from age 2 to 18. My mother or pediatrician would plot my numbers at each year’s doctor’s visit to see where I was in relation to the averages.
The research project I worked on last spring dealt with determining recovery weight for anorexics based on this growth chart. The idea was that instead of telling patients they are healthy once they get to the minimum “healthy” BMI number, they should instead have to get to a weight that is in line with the curve they were naturally on before the eating disorder began. That curve is the best indicator of where your body truly wants to be, provided you were healthy growing up.
For me, my last plots were at age 16. My height was above average, at about the 75th percentile. My weight, however, was pretty steadily on the 50th percentile.
For my height, which is almost 5’7″, the average weight range would be 120-160, so I likely should be right in the middle of that. Based on clothing (again, I don’t weigh myself), I’d say I’m right on track with that right now. Before, when I wasn’t fully recovered, I was on the lower end. My pediatric growth curve is reassurance that that probably wasn’t reasonable for me. Sure, it was skinny, but my body reacted poorly. My body fat wasn’t enough to have periods and I started to binge as a reflex — my body knew I needed some more weight on me.
My weight right now? It doesn’t allow for a six pack or a flat stomach. I have a little bit of love handle and quite a bit of a backside. When I worked out again I may be able to tone up a bit, but my body isn’t SUPPOSED to look like a fitness model’s. That’s not healthy for me.
So if you’re wondering how much you should weigh, try looking to your mother’s body type and your pediatric growth chart. Everyone is meant to look different, and that’s okay. Differences are beautiful, and you CAN be healthy and confident at your natural size.
- Do you have your mother’s body type?