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The new skinny? - the funcrunch files


Sep. 13th, 2012 12:11 pm The new skinny?

More and more nowadays, friends and others have been referring to me as "skinny". Hearing this term applied to me is a new and somewhat puzzling experience. I have always associated "skinny" with very thin people, with flat stomachs and spindly legs, who are often (though not always) practicing severe calorie restriction either for vanity or for life extension. I can still pinch an inch or so of fat around my belly, and my thighs are pretty substantial, though I'm sure a good part of that is muscle. The parts of my body where my weight loss have been most apparent, at least to me, are my face (no more double chin) and my breasts (I've actually stopped wearing bras for everything except running as I'm down close to an A-cup).

I was curious and searched Duck Duck Go (which I now use in preference to Google) for "average female weight", and was surprised to be immediately presented with "Answer: 144 pounds." I was used to using Duck Duck Go for simple mathematical calculations (same as Google offers), but didn't realize Wolfram Alpha included that kind of information. In any case, this answer was obviously incomplete, and I was interested in historical trends; even aside from the frequent news reports about our growing girth, just by pure non-scientific observation I felt that a woman my size - currently 5' 4", 118 pounds - would not have been described as "skinny" when I was born 42 years ago.

I found an article containing data from a CDC report on height and weight trends from 1960-2002, and downloaded the report itself. Apparently, even in 1960 the average weight for an adult American woman aged 40-49 was 142 pounds. As of 2002, it was 168 pounds. These are mean averages, and the standard error is listed in each result table, so those with more scientific background than I have can analyze and judge the results for yourselves.

So, maybe I am skinny? Does it really matter? Being fit matters to me, certainly. But things related to fitness that are more important and relevant to me than appearance or the number on the scale are:

1. Avoiding medications. I absolutely hated taking daily meds for depression (the only one of which that was helping landed me in the ER with a grand mal seizure), and would hate to be dependent on them for combating high cholesterol, blood pressure, or diabetes.

2. Physical readiness. Being able to walk a mile uphill rather than wait 15 minutes for the next bus, for example, is wonderful. So is the ability to be physically active for most of a 4-5 hour shift at the Free Farm and Free Farm Stand.

3. Stamina. Still working on this one, as I do tend to tire mid-day. But I generally have more energy than I did when I was heavier.

So, sure, add skinny alongside vegan, atheist, bisexual, polyamorous, and all my other freak flags. Fitting into the mainstream has never been a priority for me anyway.

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Comments:

From:funcrunch
Date:September 14th, 2012 05:20 pm (UTC)
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This Global BMI calculator is interesting in that regard. Brazil's mean BMI is listed as 26.13 (mine is currently 20.3)
From:funcrunch
Date:September 14th, 2012 06:03 pm (UTC)
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It is eye-opening. Right now my BMI puts me at the very bottom of the chart, alongside Ethiopians.

Of course, BMI is flawed, but for people of average height who are not athletes or bodybuilders, I feel it is a useful guideline.
From:inflectionpoint
Date:September 16th, 2012 12:37 am (UTC)
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I think you look lovely!

You're slimmer than most people I know, and 22 pounds less than me on the same height, which is interesting for me to ponder.

I'm at a weird place where I want to be lighter for better climbing performance, and it's going to take modifying my diet. And I'm resisting this, but it's what I need to do. I can't add enough activity to get a ten pound weight loss in six months without major lifestyle changes, so the other way to get the loss is to change my diet.

I noticed weight loss most in my face, and my little tummy. My tummy went away and now skirts hang lower than they did before. Clothing is odd stuff.

I think you look great and your energy is high. That's awesome!
From:funcrunch
Date:September 16th, 2012 05:54 am (UTC)
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Thanks! I definitely attribute most of my weight loss to changing my diet, not increasing my exercise. Doing the first made the second possible. Now my diet is on auto-pilot and I don't have to think about it, I just eat!
From:inflectionpoint
Date:September 16th, 2012 04:47 pm (UTC)
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That is interesting to hear.

How did you approach changing your diet? Smaller portions? Less sugar? More nutrient density? Something else?

It's working for you, so I want to know!
From:funcrunch
Date:September 16th, 2012 04:52 pm (UTC)
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Simply re-committing to the lowfat, starch-centered vegan diet that has always worked for me in the past: http://www.drmcdougall.com/free.html. I don't follow it 100% - I eat more high-fat plant foods than McDougall recommends, and don't always avoid oil when eating away from home - but the core of starchy whole foods (whole grains, tubers, beans) plus fresh vegetables and fruits is what keeps me healthy and satisfied.
From:inflectionpoint
Date:September 16th, 2012 05:48 pm (UTC)
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Interesting. I can use some of that, the whole foods and veg and fruit part - I've found going lower carb helped me, but honestly, going lower carb meant cutting out things that are NotFood - white things - flour and sugar, are out...

So starchy but with fiber and some protein, I can DO that.

And omg, I am in love with almonds and avocadoes. Eat those every day :-)
From:funcrunch
Date:September 17th, 2012 01:03 am (UTC)
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Interesting. I can use some of that, the whole foods and veg and fruit part - I've found going lower carb helped me, but honestly, going lower carb meant cutting out things that are NotFood - white things - flour and sugar, are out...

I eat flour products and sugar almost every day. I favor whole-wheat pasta and bread over the refined varieties, and use sugar and other sweeteners in small amounts. I eat oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa more frequently than flour products for breakfast though.

And omg, I am in love with almonds and avocadoes. Eat those every day :-)

I eat nuts, nut butters and tahini frequently, but also in small amounts. If I were trying to lose a lot of weight and/or not exercising much, I would eat much less of these foods, as they are a very dense source of calories.