Don't Forget to Measure

We tend to measure everything. How high is that building? How far to the mall? How much does this cost compared to something else? How tall are you? What's your shoe size? Waist size? Hips?

We tend to measure everything. How high is that building? How far to the mall? How much does this cost compared to something else? How tall are you? What's your shoe size? Waist size? Hips?

As we work towards regaining a healthy body, I think it's really important to measure:


  • Where you started
  • Where you are now
  • Where you would like to be

Measurements tend to be concrete, but quickly change. Your height probably won't change, but your weight certainly changes. And as your weight changes, your measurements change. Sometimes they change upwards, but hopefully your measurements will be shifting downwards. I understand that most of us don't like to pull the tape measure out and wrap it around ourselves, but it is a really important step in analyzing what lies before you in your journey to get fit. 

When I was obese, my waist was in the 50’s and my hips were in the 60’s (and I’m not talking about the decade!). That was 50+ and 60+ inches. When I first got serious about my weight loss back in 1997, I reluctantly pulled out the tape measure from my sewing basket. I actually had to talk myself into wrapping that thing around my huge self. It was shocking to me when I realized that my 60" tape measure wouldn't quite go around my hips. I had to get a string and then measure the string to see exactly how big I was. It wasn't a good feeling to realize that at 69.5” tall, I was almost equally as big around! I wrote down those measurements and hid them in my dresser drawer. I hid them because I knew I didn’t want my husband to see those shocking numbers. Looking back, I don’t know why I cared, since he saw me every day, but measurements seemed like they should be kept a secret.

As I lost weight and began to see my body shrink, I would occasionally take stock of where I was by using the tape measure. Sometimes, when my weight loss hit a plateau, it was encouraging to look at the first numbers hidden in my dresser drawer and compare them to the numbers I was seeing. It helped me get through the plateau to have a concrete measurement of where I had been and where I was right then. It gave me encouragement that things were moving in the right direction even if the scale seemed to be stuck.

If you haven't already, I would encourage you to dig your tape measure out of the drawer and use it. Write all of your measurements down. Make sure you include measurements other than just your hips and waist, such as chest, arm and upper thigh, calf and wrist. As you lose weight, everything will change and it is fun to see how different your measurements will become. When I reached my goal weight, I found that my waist size had shrunk to 28.5” and my hips to 38.5”. Even now it's still surprising how much our bodies can shrink when we start eating right, exercising and taking care of ourselves.

My husband always used to ask me after I lost 158 pounds, "Where did it all go, Diane? What happened to it all?" I used to shrug my shoulders and say, "I don't know." But one thing I do know is that I'm glad it's gone and doubly glad it hasn't returned!

Will you ever feel comfortable in your own skin? That is, if you don't make an effort to protect it? Although 64% of adults do report wearing sunscreen when outside for prolonged periods of time, it turns out that only about 10% of people surveyed actually protect themselves daily, according to a recent review.

No matter what your skin tone is, unless you live in a cave with no sunlight, daily protection with either sunscreen, sunblock or protective clothing can not only protect you from developing sunburns (ouch!) but can significantly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer, particularly the deadliest type called melanoma. In addition, for those of you wanting to keep your youthful looks, daily sunscreen has been shown to reduce the development of wrinkles. A great teacher once told me that the best way to not have wrinkles is not to get them in the first place (think of how much money you can save on useless creams that claim to diminish wrinkles).

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