“Being fit at a size that’s right for you”

 I am Jacqui and I am a plus-sized woman. For many years I have fought with my body. I have tried many different diets as well as some sensible weight loss plans. I had some success but never to the degree where I could fit into a size 10. So, I have come to the realization that I am not built to be that small. Despite my years of training and experience as a clinical psychologist, this was a hard thing to accept. It occurred to me that if I’m having a hard time with the image of being ‘plus-sized’, how many scores of other women are in the same boat?  It is a fact that the average American woman wears a size 14. Anything above a size 10 is considered ‘plus-sized’.

                      Being a ‘plus-sized’ woman in our society is not easy. We are often the subject of intentionally hurtful jokes, critical stares, and negative stereotypes. We are overlooked and put down despite our skills and talents. As a result, some of us adopt the notion that we are second-class citizens. This is not healthy or productive, especially when we do it to ourselves. I encourage all women to refuse to adopt and foster the negativity and self-recriminations that are currently part of our daily talk.

            Even though I am larger than a size 10, okay a size 14, I still want to be, and work at being healthy.  I exercise several times a week and just completed my fourth half-marathon (running and walking).  I have decided that being healthy is one of my most important personal goals. This is also the goal that I encourage my clients to reach for.  I was amazed to learn of a survey completed last year which found that young girls are more afraid of being fat than having cancer. These reports reflect how our focus on being thin is affecting our children. Why do we think there is some ‘ideal’ size that means we are beautiful, desirable, or even successful? We are all made in different sizes. That is part of the beauty of being a woman. Beauty is defined in many ways and we are not all meant to be a size 2, 4 or 6.

            It is too easy to get caught up in losing a certain number of pounds or fitting  into the same size as a celebrity that we don’t even consider whether that diet is good for us. There have been so many problems associated with over-the-counter diet products and pills (such as Hydroxycut) that we should avoid using them. The problem is that too many women want a quick fix. Even though we didn’t put these pounds on overnight, we expect them to disappear quickly. We can be very impatient or unwilling to do the work necessary to lose weight while increasing health. And, yes it is hard work. But if you don’t think you are worth committing to the work, you short change your life. Some of the health problems associated with obesity include diabetes, hypertension, and sleep apnea.

              It is important to note that being ‘plus-sized’ is not the same as being obese.  While the Body Mass Index charts give weights that are ‘ideal’ for your height, bone structure and muscle mass are not factored in. It is quite possible that by making simple changes in your eating style and activity level, you can eliminate 10-25 unwanted pounds which could result in significant health improvements. Even if losing those 20 pounds does not take you out of the ‘overweight’ range, you can feel good knowing that you are regaining control of your life and being responsible for your health. And, you’re setting a wonderful example for your children. We can’t be afraid to take the actions necessary to improve our lives. We all can move our bodies more and make better choices regarding our food. It doesn’t matter what anyone else may say or think. Know that you are making your health a priority and that you are worth it.

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