Monday, April 25, 2011

Judging Weight Loss – It’s Not a Numbers Game

This article is also available on Nutrition in Motion's blog NIM Dish

Judging Weight Loss – It’s Not a Numbers Game
Sarah Reid, RHNC

Everyone – whether having struggled with the scale or not – has battled the numbers game in their lifetime. Of course, the numbers game I’m referring to is independent of the scale, the measuring tape or the amount of crunches you do at the gym. This is a much harder to navigate course, which starts when you walk through the doors of your favourite clothing store.

Vanity sizing is more popular than ever now, thanks to the omnipresence of obese members of the public coupled with the constant barrage of skinny jeans and miniskirts at every turn. Most individuals, if they are overweight, are self-conscious enough about that fact to refrain from any large amount of bare skin or tight clothes – in the days of my struggle with obesity (having topped the scales at 230 lbs at age 15), I would ask myself why the companies would even bother making clothes like that in a size above a 6. Not that the sizes meant anything then either. Dieters today, regardless of how many pounds or inches they lose, may very well find themselves continuously buying the same size... even though each pair of jeans has a smaller waist than the one before.

The more you decide to spend on an outfit, the higher the emotional cost can be as well. The women’s department is exempt from “male style” sizing, which prefers to actually take the concrete measurements of the waist and inseam and translate it into a piece of clothing. Instead, a 27” waist in a chic boutique like Guess, for example, translates into size 8-10 trousers. Go to Old Navy or Sears, though, and you’re lucky to find a pair that won’t fall off of you. Sizes like “double-zero” are now as common on the racks as the 4’s and 6’s were five years ago, but every minute variation in style seems to warrant a different number.

It’s enough to make your head spin and turn you off from hitting the malls altogether. Fitting rooms are more like torture chambers instead of places to bond with your best friends over a new season’s digs. And forget about ordering clothes online or asking for a new sweater for your birthday – how can you relay what size you are when 2-10 can fit into one outfit?

The prevalence of this “feel better about yourself” manner of tagging clothes, and the lack of it’s consistency between labels, is why now more than ever the number on the “size” label shouldn’t dictate your feelings regarding weight loss success. If you’ve been eating right, exercising and steering clear of your “traps”, the readout on the scale and the tightening of your belt will show your success far more than a hidden scrap of fabric tucked under your collar.

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I started my "working life" as a holistic and allopathic nutritional consultant with a love of cooking. Teaching the value of wholesome meal choices to families became close to my heart after I battled a long history of struggles with weight and health, and the passion for teaching led me into where I am now. My blog, which focuses on "bringing good taste to healthier food" through creative use of whole grains, fresh produce and acknowledging the importance of the occasional treat, also features a wealth of "specialty diet" friendly recipes for gluten-, egg-, dairy- and sugar- tree nut-free items that everyone can enjoy without alienating those who need them.

Overall, I want to bring back the desire for good quality, homemade, (mostly) healthy food into the hearts and kitchens of families so that the next generation will be less box-reliant than mine. I firmly believe that any “homemade” food, even when labelled as "naughty", is a more wholesome treat than pre-packaged, cookie-cutter junk. With the knowledge of good food (and how to cook good food) as a base, a healthy lifestyle can follow, and then anything is possible!