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Today Marks 4 Years at Goal Weight

Sunday, July 07, 2013

On July 7, 2009, I reached my goal weight, the number on the scale (130) that I had chosen when I joined SparkPeople on January 29, 2009. On that day in July, I weighed in at 129.8. My goal then was to maintain my weight within the range of 130 +/- 5 pounds, so 125 - 135.

Four years later (well, I actually weighed myself yesterday), my scale weight is 131. If you are just looking at the scale, it appears to be 4 years with little change, which is what many of us think of as "maintenance." I know that's what I thought when I joined SparkPeople -- reach goal weight and then keep it from changing.

But in fact the past 4 years have been a time of many changes in my true weight (despite what the scale says) and much growth in my health, in my fitness and in my outlook on life. What is important to me now is different than what I thought would be important when I looked forward on that January day in 2009.

On that day when I first reached my goal weight, I also had a body fat test performed with calipers at the gym. The number from that was 30.9%. Of my 129.8 pounds, 40.108 were fat and 89.692 were lean tissue, bone and water. The scale weight I was so proud of (only 5 pounds more than I weighed in high school when I was, quite frankly, skinny) was in fact NOT a healthy weight. And since to all outward appearances, I looked thin, my weight was more than just a little unhealthy. The fat was in the places you don't see -- in my muscles and around my internal organs.

Yesterday, the number from my body fat test was 19.04%. Of my current 131 pounds, 24.948 are fat and 106.052 are tissue, bone and water. Since I probably haven't created a lot of new bone in the last year and my hydration levels are not drastically different either, the bulk of that 16.36 pound lean tissue change is muscle. I've lost 15.16 pounds of fat.

Yes, I know that the measurements aren't terribly precise. Maybe I've only gained 15 pounds of muscle; maybe I've only lost 14 pounds of fat. I don't think that changes the basic narrative.

That body fat test four years ago really opened my eyes to the importance of setting the right goals. I said at the time that my goal was to reach a healthy weight. But like most of us, I didn't really think through what that meant. I chose a number. I reached that number. But I didn't reach my goal.

I still love numbers. Yes, they can be motivational. They can be fun to track and can give you useful feedback.

BUT a life style is actions, what you do every day, and BEING healthy is a process. It is not about reaching a number (even a nice one like 19% body fat.) It is not something you "win," game over.

I am still learning to formulate my goals as actions, as part of an ongoing process, and then to trust that the process will produce the right results for me.

So what are my "healthy" life style goals for the coming year?

My dietary goals can be captured pretty much in Michael Pollen's famous quotes: "Eat [real] food, not too much, mostly plants," and "Always leave the table a little hungry."

My weight measures are how my clothes fit (corroborated by the tape measure), what I see when I look at myself naked in the mirror and how I feel when I move.

Ironically, I have a pair of jeans I bought when I weighed 125 (briefly in 2009) that fit me better today at 131 than they did when I bought them. Clothes don't lie (unless they have lots of elastic). That's why you also need a tape measure.

My fitness goals (for health) are to do resistance training at least twice a week (forever) and to raise my heart rate into the aerobic range a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week (forever). I trust this process. The numbers it produces will be the right ones for me.

I also have goals for running, but that's another chapter.

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
SLENDERELLA61 7/27/2013 1:41PM

    Awesome blog, Catherine. Glad I found it, even if late. Your accomplishments are monumental!! I wanna be like you!!!! Thanks for being a role model for active, healthy living at any age! -Marsha

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VISUALLYRICS 7/13/2013 1:09AM

    emoticon on 4 YEARS Catherine!! Amazing progress and wisdom through out the years for sure..... emoticon I celebrate with you!
Loved your quote: "BUT a life style is actions, what you do every day, and BEING healthy is a process."

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IONA72 7/10/2013 5:50AM

    Happy Anniversary! emoticon

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KARRENLYNN 7/8/2013 8:26PM

    Great post. I think most people just pick whatever number they think they should be. (at least in the beginning) I've done this and also used clothes sizes as a suitable measurement. You brought up some good thoughts, like being thin or at goal weight doesn't necessarily mean you're healthy.

Thanks for sharing,


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BOILHAM 7/8/2013 7:30PM

    You are an inspiration. I know how hard you work, because your numbers in running and weight management both reflect your strength.
Keep up the good work.

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LAURIE5658 7/8/2013 4:15PM

    You are such an awesome role model and THANK YOU for sharing in this blog. You have such a well rounded program of fitness and nutrition and staying in balance for so long is truly amazing. Congratulations, Catherine!!!


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JASMINELOU 7/8/2013 4:15PM


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    Your accomplishments and your dilligence to making action-oriented goals are an inspiration.Congratulations on all your hard work. I still am struggling with my goals...having gained 20 pounds after I reached my "goal" weight, even though I've kept running. I have just started a gluten free south beach diet...and hope that my body and I get used to / discover what I need to do to feel healthier (I am gluten intolerant) and happier. All with the goal of being able to run and enjoy it.

Take care!!

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JOPAPGH 7/8/2013 3:28PM

    Nice job! That is a long time to stay so focused.

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SEABREEZE65 7/8/2013 2:40PM

    Congratulations Catherine!

I am copying one of your lines and adding it to my quotes to read and remind me..... "I am still learning to formulate my goals as actions, as part of an ongoing process, and then to trust that the process will produce the right results for me."

I have done this very thing with many areas of my life..... , but still need to address others. An ever ongoing adventure in living this life.

Thanks again!!

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WILEE323 7/8/2013 2:16PM

    Fitness is so much more than just a number on the scale!! Thanks for being a great example.

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IMSMILEY88 7/8/2013 12:56PM

    Congrats on 4 years at goal weight... and so much more! I really enjoyed your post. Maintenance isn't easy, but it sounds like you are doing much more than maintaining.

I reached my goal weight about 2.5 years ago and kept within my range for right at one year. And then I gained... and gained... and gained. I've had a few false starts trying to get back into gear and re-lose the weight. But, this time I am ready again. Then, we I hit goal weight, I'm going to have to learn to LIVE a healthy lifestyle forever.

Thanks for sharing!

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JUNEPA 7/8/2013 11:32AM

    Great goals and balance
The numbers can mean different things, I agree making lean body weight a goal is more valuable than just a goal weight.
How I feel when I move is a measure of the fitness level I strive to have.
Being healthy is an ongoing process
Eat real food, not too much-resistance train 2x- raise HR to aerobic range min 30min 6x
The only thing I would add for myself, and I thought I saw it somewhere in your blog but can't find it now, is to keep active and moving throughout the day, something I personally have to watch, not too much sedentary time (= the new bad habit equivalent to smoking in being damaging to your health)

You are doing awesome, I have learned so much from you.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience.

Comment edited on: 7/8/2013 11:38:01 AM

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NATPLUMMER 7/8/2013 10:59AM


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    emoticon You are an inspiration on so many fronts. So do tell - how did you lose the body fat...weight training - just running, what was it. I am doing to do the +/- factor, but I do want to know how the body fat melted off you.

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STEVIEBEE569 7/8/2013 9:52AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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IFDEEVARUNS2 7/8/2013 9:37AM

    Great story! emoticon

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OWL_20 7/8/2013 7:26AM

    This is a great blog. The scale doesn't show the whole story, does it? The fact you added that much lean muscle is really telling, and the fact it's a lifestyle/outlook you have made and can continue to enjoy--I think that's the real success. Congratulations and I'm so glad you posted this! Also, emoticon

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THETURTLEBEAR 7/7/2013 11:49PM

    Fabulous story (forever)!

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NEWME1027 7/7/2013 11:18PM


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Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.