Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Number 58

I have an issue with my goal weight.  I’m obsessed with this number.  I don’t mean obsessed as in I’ll do anything in a no holds barrier get-out-of-my-way-style to reach it no matter what; but I simply have an obsession with the actual number itself.

It’s 58.  58kg.

Let me explain why.

I think I made it up 6 years ago.  It was well thought out and logical to me at the time.  I chose it because:

My lowest healthy BMI is 59.  I wanted to be at the lower end of my BMI so that I had a bit of room to move up by a couple of kg’s without any issues once I got to goal.  6 years ago I started a big weight loss attempt (#324 of my 516 attempts at losing weight) and I weighed 118kg at the time.  118-59 = 59.  However 118-58 = 60kg exactly.  Call it slightly OCD-ish if you will, but to be 1kg under the healthy BMI category for the sake of making it an even 60 sounded pretty good to me.  I never intended to stay at 58kg, in my mind I would fluctuate between 58-60, after I got to goal.

And that’s where the #58 came from.  Fast forward 6 years and hundreds of weight loss attempts later, and I kept the same number in my mind.  Even when I grew to my heaviest weight, 141kg, I didn’t deviate from my goal of 58kg.  It was what I decided years ago, so that was that.  I am annoyingly headstrong.  This number became more of a ‘title’ of what I wanted to do.  I have weight loss spread sheets galore – tracking charts – plans – checklists – posters – goals written everywhere – and they all are covered with the number 58.  The titles of some spread sheets are simply called “58”.  It became more of a code for myself that stood for my personal weight loss mission rather than a kg’s number that I obsessed over.

As I got older I realised that 58kg may be too low for me.  I wasn’t sure but I became open minded to the idea that if I got to a weight that was right for me, then I would stop at that point and not need to specifically reach 58kg.  I wouldn’t know until I got there – so in the meantime I just called it ‘58’.  I've been attached to this number, it's like a protective thing where I own it.  I’ve had some friends flip out when I say ‘58kg’ as they think it’s too low for me.  As soon as they question this, I feel all tight inside and like I have to defend it because no-one can take my number away from me.

I have a well-rehearsed comeback that I comfort them with, explaining what I wrote above – that it’s just a number and I will stop if I get to a higher weight and that is enough.  This usually calms them.  (Kind of like a "you can ask me about it, but you will never take my 58 freedom!!!" speech.)  It's mine.  In other words, hands over ears, singing 'la la la I can't hear you!')

So when I started 12WBT in June at 141kg and wrote down my big goal, I of course wrote ‘58’.  I didn’t think much about it.

My current weight tracker as at today

You know how people can say something to you over and over and you don’t react, and then one day someone says the exact same thing, and not even necessarily in a different way, and it sounds completely different?  Well this is what happened to my beloved 58 vision.

Last week I was chatting to a friend about my weight loss mission.  This is a person I highly respect and whose opinion I very much value.  She also happens to be completely qualified in this area.  It happened to be the day I reached my 30kg weight loss.  I mentioned that I hit the magic 30kg mark, and then said that I only had ‘53kg to go’.  She responded with a shocked “says who?”  I was fairly flippant in my response: I’ve heard it all before.  “Oh, me.”  I said.  I then said that 58kg was my goal and before she could say anything else, I auto-piloted straight into my rehearsed response as mentioned above.  (AKA you can't take 58 away from me!)

In the nicest possible way, she was completely horrified.  Like, a lot.  And for the first time in 6 years, I questioned ‘my number’.

Maybe it was her not buying into my, to be honest, weak reasoning.  Maybe it was me being surprised at how taken aback she was.  She was lovely about it but I saw the shock in her face.  Maybe it was the fact that I respect her opinion so much.  It’s not that I haven’t respected other people’s opinions any less in the past though!  Maybe I was just finally ready to look at this a little bit more maturely?

We sat down and we discussed this for quite a while.  She got her calculator out and we worked out more reasonable ideas of goal weights for me.  It was a fantastic discussion that I value so much and here would like to thank her so much.

It’s taken me well over a week to be able to put this out there.  I didn’t ignore the conversation by any means – I just needed time.  I'm not going to lie and say that I needed time to process it.  Instead, it's been churning around my mind this whole time, as to whether I can 'let go' of my beautiful Number 58.  I still don’t know how I feel exactly.  I’ve had 15 years of eating disorders that made this thing run a whole lot deeper than this decision I made 6 years ago.  Giving up my number 58 may not be like giving up my right arm, but it is a part of me in a way and it is a big thing.  It’s not just getting over a number and changing some spread sheets around.  It’s an entire shift in mindset.

It’s actually being mature enough to be logical, reasonable and smart about my health and my body for the first time since I was about 12.

And that’s a bit scary.

I know that I should be ok with just seeing how I go and deciding when I get closer as to what my goal weight should be.  But I’m not ready for that.  One maturity step at a time, please. ;)  I actually need a number.  I need specific goals.  I’m not too sure what the number will be yet, but once you see my weight tracker change, you’ll know that I’ve worked it out.

The cool part of doing this is that as soon as I make that decision, my ‘kg’s left to lose’ number gets instantly smaller without actually having to lose weight. (!)

But the even cooler thing is that by making this decision, I’m finally valuing my body for what it can do and what it should be, rather than a young girls dysmorphic view of what she tells herself she should weigh.

Wow. I just 'got' it.


  1. Ahhh Coco, I love you, I really do. I love how you processed all of that. Sometimes people can tell us something until we're blue in the face but when someone we respect tells us the exact same thing, we look at it a different way. I think you did just "get it". And I think that you'll know when you get there, whatever the number is.

    I've put a mythical 75 on my ticker. Lets face it, every website with goal weight says something slightly different, so who knows. I just figure when I get to 75 I'll know how my body "fits" if that makes sense, and when I'm at my happiest, nothing more, nothing less. I think you'll do the same.

    Because after all, we are a feeling, we're not a number, right?

    Keep up the great work, and the mind bending lessons you are figuring out in the meantime.


  2. You, lovely lady are SO MUCH MORE than a number. Glad you've decided to take some power back from this number. Go you!

  3. It's funny how we hang onto things like this. For me it was always 10 stone (that's 63.5 kgs) .... but the banding surgeon said to me that he wants me at 80 kg's full stop and he'll review it once I reach that. He thinks I'll be too skinny if I go below 80. So I've gone up the slider in what my ideal weight should be... and by quite a lot too. It's actually made it more achieveable and more maintainable long-term was well.