Angela at Parisienne Farmgirl is running a series called “Eat like a Parisienne… Work out like une Americaine“. So far, it seems to involve French cooking, wine, and cakes, and it certainly seems to work for Angela. I’m waiting to find out what I’m missing, because I’m there on the butter in my cooking, wine, and sweets… but I don’t seem to be getting results like Angela’s.
Now, she has been very clear that she is aiming for health and trimness, not necessarily an arbitrary number. She described herself as curvy and happy with that. She put up a photo of Marilyn Monroe; to put it mildly, Monroe would not be considered anywhere near skinny enough to work in Hollywood today.
However, as a bit of an aside in the initial post, Angela quoted a formula that said that for every inch over 5 foot, you get five pounds over 100.
Hence, at 5’7″, this formula would say I should be 135 pounds. Heck, according to the last standardized height-weight chart I saw, I was in the “morbidly obese” category, and that was a *few* pounds ago.
Except I’m not. I may be a stout hourglass, but I still have hourglass measurements. I work out, I dig in the garden for hours (I’m talking turning over dirt to a depth of 18 inches, not lazily poking around with a hand trowel), and I pulled about 60 pounds of kids behind my bike on a six mile ride this afternoon at a decent clip. The last time I was that weight, I was a plebe (freshman) at the Naval Academy. The last time I got back to within thirty pounds of that 135 number, friends were worried I was sick. The last time I lost anything like that amount of weight, I had mono and couldn’t eat more than a slice of bread with a little jelly each day for a month or so, followed and preceded by months of the sight of food making me so nauseous I was hardly eating.
Doctors have told me that I need to conform to the chart, because “everyone” should be those weights. Why are they surprised when patients throw their hands in the air and cry, “It’s not possible; why bother?” (Accentuating the “why bother” attitude, my younger daughter just had her annual check up: 50% height, 40% weight… 60% BMI. Huh?)
We’ve all met people who could seriously stand to lose a lot of weight who say, “Oh, I’m just big boned.” It’s an abused excuse. The fact that it’s abused is no reason to ignore that people really do come in different body types.
Just a thought:
Arabian: average height 15 hands, average weight 900 pounds
American Cream Draft: average height 15.1 hands, average weight 1700 pounds (Photo from Wikimedia Commons, no author listed)
Now, if you were several of my previous doctors, you’d condescendingly inform the Cream Draft that it really ought to lose 800 pounds, because at that height, horses should only weigh 900 pounds.
Except that, obviously, nobody’s going to say that. Both the Arabian and the Cream Draft team in the pictures are considered prime specimens. They are the same height, but they have different body types. And so do people. Since people don’t vary as dramatically as horse breeds, double the average would be excessive, but not everyone should be aiming for the average weight. (It would be nice if more doctors would acknowledge that fact instead of pointing at the chart, rolling their eyes, and saying all problems would disappear if I’d only conform to the weight on the chart.)
I was in Cannes, France, for the annual Cannes Film Festival. The city was awash in all the beautiful people who work in the film industry. Most of the women on the street were four inches shorter than me and looked like they might weigh 90 pounds. The locals in the Navy League (a pro-navy club) told us that the locals and people from the surrounding towns avoid Cannes during the festival.
Sure enough, the day after the festival closed, the occupants of the cafes were decidedly different, because the locals were out and about again. Suddenly, the average age and weight went up significantly.
I have to point out that French women who aren’t adorably skinny don’t write diet books about how skinny French women are! Nor do they usually write books called Not All French Women Are Size 2, so we forget about them a bit. Also, French women are- bear with me a second- French. (Have you ever see a diet book called Slovak Women Don’t Get Fat? Let me tell you: there’s a reason for that.) Americans are British, German, Eastern European, and every other ethnicity out there. My sister-in-law, adopted from South Korea, has trouble staying above 100 pounds. My mom’s side of the family (Slovak) just tries to not go past cylindrical to pear shaped. I suppose the average of those extremes would tell you that the formula works, but common sense would disagree.
Thinner is not necessarily better. The chart doesn’t know you, only some mythical “average” American.
Now go read Angela and find your beautiful best size.