Weight and Dating.
September 3, 2010 10:02 AM   Subscribe

30 y/o female - Lost a lot of weight then gained it back but am still in healthy range and in decent shape. Fine. Whatever. So how do I feel better about myself and how do I feel more confident when dating?

I went through a ridiculous break-up where I managed to get down from 165 pounds on my 5'8" medium frame (am female) to 115 pounds. Now that everything has blown over, I'm back up to 150 pounds. Sure, I'd love to get down around 130ish, but I'm also really athletic and know that it's pretty tough for me to do that.

I'm a marathon runner and most recently, a triathlete, so it's damn near impossible for me to just simply lose weight without sacrificing muscle. Eating better is one thing, but again, I'm running 60+ miles a week, so food is pretty important to me, and adding more exercise probably isn't going to work at this point. I guess I'm just trying to be realistic.

Long story short, I'm back up to 150 pounds and am now a size 8-10 again (where I was a 2-4 before). How do I stop feeling like such a fatass? I just feel *big*. Sure I'm strong, but I just feel like a giant, ugly, unattractive woman and am feeling very self-conscious about how men perceive me now...especially since I'm in the whole dating field where everyone seems to be hyper-critical. I just feel so utterly self-conscious and like they're all silently judging me when I want to feel sexy and like a total catch.
posted by floweredfish to Human Relations (45 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
First off... throw away your scale. Seriously. There is no reason for you to know how much you weigh, especially since you are a marathoner and triathlete! It's completely irrelevant to your life. Get rid of it.
posted by brainmouse at 10:08 AM on September 3, 2010 [21 favorites]

Remember that you're extremely healthy and fit. 115 was not a healthy weight for your height. 150, on the other hand, is a healthy weight for your height.

The key to feeling good about how you look is dressing for your body, instead of for the body you want. Buy clothes that accentuate your good points and hide your problem areas. What Not to Wear is good for learning how to do that--eventually you'll find an episode with a makeover similar to your body type.
posted by litnerd at 10:11 AM on September 3, 2010

Long story short, I'm back up to 150 pounds and am now a size 8-10 again (where I was a 2-4 before). How do I stop feeling like such a fatass?

According to this article the average American woman weighs 162.9 pounds and wears a size 14.
posted by jingzuo at 10:13 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

What brainmouse said times 10!! You are an ATHLETE!!! Find a person who will worship your amazing muscles and leave it at that.
posted by yfatah at 10:14 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Size 8? Size 8? What is the issue?
posted by Biru at 10:14 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

At your hight 115 pounds is not a reasonable weight for an athlete. If a man (or woman) expects unreasonable things from you simply upon meeting you would you really want to be with them in the long haul?
posted by geekchic at 10:16 AM on September 3, 2010

Have you ever been out with a personal shopper? Do you like the way your clothes look on you? If not, go out and find new clothes that look good, and, most importantly, feel good. When you solve that, I bet your other issues will fade.
posted by TheBones at 10:18 AM on September 3, 2010

Well, at 115lbs., you were underweight for a person at 5'8'' tall. At 150, you are in a healthy BMI range. It sounds like you get more than enough exercise, and are probably very fit. So, it's doubtful that you need to change anything about your body, and reducing calories at your level of activity sounds like a bad idea. You'll probably get some advice here to talk to a therapist about your body issues. Short of that, try to start thinking positively about your body -- think about how great it is to have such a capable, healthy body. Get dressed up, stand up straight, and enjoy yourself.
posted by sk932 at 10:18 AM on September 3, 2010

I completely understand how you feel. While I'm not nearly as athletic as you, it sounds like we're about the same size in terms of height and weight. I'm a lot thinner than I used to be, but I'm not always entirely comfortable being my current size, and I know that if I'd once been as thin as 115 lbs I'd feel even LESS comfortable at times. So I'm not going to tell you you're crazy for feeling that way, because you aren't. We can't help how we feel about these things sometimes.

But all of that said.

If your description of yourself is even remotely accurate, particularly in terms of your level of activity, you're fine. Actually, you're really super great. Seriously. You should feel proud of yourself for maintaining such a healthy lifestyle, which would be impossible if you weren't eating enough to sustain that much exercise. If a man you're thinking about dating isn't interested in you with your current build, and dares to be hyper-critical of a normal-sized woman who's also in excellent shape, that is not a guy that you want to be in a relationship with.

I don't know you personally of course, but on a purely physical level any guy should count himself lucky to be dating you. Period.

(and it might be worth adding, btw, that I lost my extra weight AFTER I got married, and was 20-30 lbs heavier for most of my dating "career." And the only thing that ever kept me from finding guys to go out with were my own, maddening insecurities -- I think I cared a lot more about being "too big" than any of the guys I dated. You're thinner than I was then and in MUCH better physical shape. So I feel like I can say with complete confidence, and with as much objectivism as it's possible to have, that if you can work out your own insecurities internally you shouldn't have any problems at all)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:20 AM on September 3, 2010

Long story short, I'm back up to 150 pounds and am now a size 8-10 again (where I was a 2-4 before). How do I stop feeling like such a fatass?

Toss away your clothes that don't fit. Tell yourself that the only reason you were a size 2-4 was because you were in a bad emotional place and it wasn't a healthy weight for you. Healthy is sexy. Other athletic people respect and are attracted to fitness, ability to do athletic things together, all the stuff. When I was heavier, it was easy for me to think that my weight was the only reason people weren't attracted to/wanting to date me, but realistically once I lost some of the weight they still didn't want to date me. It's a sobering lesson, but sometimes it's easy to focus on the thing you feel like you can control and put it between you and what you want. Dating is sort of a roller coaster for a lot of reasons, but being an athletic woman with interests and hobbies it in and of itself a big check mark in the plus column. Size 8 is normal even if it doesn't feel that way to you right now.
posted by jessamyn at 10:20 AM on September 3, 2010 [17 favorites]

Throw your scale away. You are muscled, not fat. Know that there are plenty of men who would find that extremely sexy, myself included. 5'8" and 115 is not good, nor sexy.
posted by Silvertree at 10:21 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sure I'm strong, but I just feel like a giant, ugly, unattractive woman and am feeling very self-conscious about how men perceive me now...especially since I'm in the whole dating field where everyone seems to be hyper-critical. I just feel so utterly self-conscious and like they're all silently judging me when I want to feel sexy and like a total catch.

This is all in your head. There are huge numbers of guys who find a healthy, size 8-10, triathlete very sexy. Stop feeling bad about yourself for no reason and find a great guy who appreciates you for who you are. People can have flaws that make it harder to find a partner, but being a normal healthy weight is not one of them.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:24 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you rely on the approval of others, you're going to be unhappy no matter what size you are. Guys dating stick insects and runway models still cheat and look elsewhere. What happens if you get yourself down to the perfect size, have the perfect body and then end up with a guy who 1) only wants you for your bod and 2) ends up cheating? This is the story of Hollywood. Don't buy into it.

My advice:

1) Keep up with healthy exercise and a normal diet. Don't binge, don't purge. Don't "cleanse". There is nothing wrong with weighing yourself once a week. Just don't evaluate yourself each time -- use it only to understand where you are. It's OK to want to be slender. It's not OK to rage against yourself if you aren't. Vary your meals and invest time in good recipes. QUALITY not quantity (or lack thereof).

2) People who have phobias benefit from exposure to what scares them. I don't know if this is sound advice, but I think you should date as much as possible and expose yourself to rejection situations. When it happens -- and it happens to ALL of us -- reflect on it and move on. People can reject you for any reason. You will be a prisoner and they will be your jailer if you don't stop caring. And to do that is to feel rejection and realize it isn't the end of the world. Don't hide yourself away!

3) Read Radical Acceptance -- it changed my life.

4) And if you really need your head cleared, read this post "Regrets of the Dying".
posted by teedee2000 at 10:31 AM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

I know a girl who has the body type you describe, and everyone thinks she is smoking hot. Make sure you are wearing flattering clothes, which should not be difficult to find.
posted by grouse at 10:31 AM on September 3, 2010

Of course you already know, intellectually, that you are in fact sexy and a total catch. What you need to do is change the audience of beholders, so to speak—the ones that seem to be silently judging you and making you feel like a fatass.

The simple fact is this: there are thousands of men out there who would find a strong, healthy female body, of 150 lbs on a 5'8" frame, to be not only white-hot sexy, but desirable and preferred over a skinnier figure. So you need to identify those people, and stop trying to force yourself into becoming the "correct body type" for one of the judgmental tools that seem to be dominating your dating circle.

So first, change your dating field. Wherever the places are that you are meeting prospective dating chums right now, change that up. If you're doing the after-work-drinks thing plus the going-out-to-the-bars-on-weekends thing, put some new activities in the mix. It could be church, volunteering, running clubs... anything where you will encounter new prospects. (Because, you already know how the old prospects seem to feel and think about women's looks.)

And you need to start thinking of body type preference as just any other physical characteristic. Some men prefer blue-eyed blondes over dark eyes and olive skin. Some men like a Christina Hendricks bust and others don't look twice at that shape. Some men like girls with short curly hair. Some men like a healthy strong body type.

And truth be told, you're likely the same. If you could create a mate for yourself like in "Weird Science" and could pick all the physical traits, you would see that you are simply drawn to some hair colors, heights, shapes, skin tones and so on, more than others. It doesn't make the ones you don't prefer bad... they just aren't your "type."

Once you start thinking of yourself as just a different and equally appealing offering on the smorgasbord, rather than an inferior physique competing in the meat market, it will help your self-confidence immensely. There are loads and loads of men out there for whom you are exactly the right type.

Do you ever watch a TV program called "How to Look Good Naked"? Find the British version with stylist Gok Wan, and then DVR about 15 episodes. He takes REAL women of REAL body types, and does non-surgical makeovers on their fashion, beauty and presentation. At the end, the girls are always totally sexy knockouts that any man would be lucky to go out with... but in the beginning, they are always convinced that they are unattractive, or chubby, or simply not feminine. I am a curvy girl who is definitely not athletic, and I already am pretty convinced that I'm a sexy knockout—and I still love to watch Gok and the way he helps real women with real bodies look at themselves differently in the mirror.
posted by pineapple at 10:32 AM on September 3, 2010 [4 favorites]

Any man who perceives a healthy, extremely athletic woman as a 'fat ass' is a shallow douchebag. In the words of a wise woman named floweredfish, "You can do much better and deserve to be with someone who isn't a shallow douchebag."
posted by BusyBusyBusy at 10:35 AM on September 3, 2010 [4 favorites]

I don't like how almost everyone is telling her to ignore the numbers and reinforcing that advice with using numbers which in no way relate to her personally.

Her 115lbs or 150lbs being healthy or not entirely depends on how muscular she is and what level of bodyfat she feels comfortable at and likes to maintain.
Saying off the cuff that 5'8 115 isn't good, healthy, or sexy is just as bad as saying that 150lbs isn't good sexy or healthy. Maybe she looked awesome for her at 115-130. Maybe she looks awesome for her at 150.

As far as what can help, I really like what jessamyn and burnmp3s have said.

And please stick to your guns and don't start doing more cardio just to lose weight! If you're not already, I bet you could kick some ass in the weight room if wanted to put one a day a week in there. It would help your running and recovery as well.
If you're running 60 miles a week I have no doubt that you look awesome no matter what weight you're at. I hope you get to where you can appreciate how awesome you are and accept whatever weight you want to be.
posted by zephyr_words at 10:41 AM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

In the most supportive AskMe kind of way, let me say that you sound totally hot to this (taken) heterosexual guy.

I would banish from your mind any thoughts to the contrary.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:47 AM on September 3, 2010

Are you upset about how lean or not lean you are now compared to when you were 115 lb, or are you upset about literally how big you are (i.e. how much space you take up)? There's a big difference.

That said, if you went from 165 to 115 due to stress, you probably lost a ton of muscle along with fat, and may be less lean at 155 than you were at 165 before. Running triathlons is awesome, but it doesn't build lean muscle the way that weight training does. A simple barbell routine like Starting Strength (google it) will undoubtedly make you feel better about your body. And your body will feel better. And you'll probably do better in your triathlons. So try it.
posted by telegraph at 10:49 AM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

I second throwing in some weight training. I usually run anywhere between 18-25 miles a week and it wasn't until I started weight training 3-4x a week that I really started to see and feel much sleeker (and stronger) than I was, even tho I didn't necessarily weigh a whole lot less than when I was running more.
posted by violetk at 10:50 AM on September 3, 2010

I second whoever recommended What Not To Wear (the UK version, at least - never seen the US version). It's really good for giving you an idea of what clothes suit your body shape.

Other than that, my only advice is really to decide that you're awesome, and that's all there is to it. Learn to like what you see when you look in the mirror. Dress in a way that makes you feel good, get a haircut you like, accept yourself on your own terms. Bollocks to the scales - muscle weighs more than fat. You know you're fit and healthy. There is little sexier than a woman who's happy and comfortable in her own skin.

Your body shape seems, to me, to be very similar to mine. I also weigh around 150lb, and I am five inches shorter than you. I'm a sturdy build, I have a fair amount of muscle thanks to roller derby, and I am not fat. Neither are you. I make as much of a point as possible not to allow society to dictate to me what I should look like or what I should weigh. I am fit and healthy, I will dress how I like and eat what I like and I will look good, dammit. I advise this as a course of action.

(I also advise meeting people online and getting to know and like them a little first, rather than basing initial impressions purely on appearance, but this is probably because I am a massive nerd with a tendency towards social anxiety.)
posted by corvine at 10:53 AM on September 3, 2010

*Sympathy* A few things that have helped me deal with body-image/attractiveness issues:

This image (probably NSFW), showing men's versus women's ideal body size and shape (compared to the UK national average) - women think we have to be a lot thinner to be attractive than we do!

Also, I was once having a conversation with a (very attractive) male friend of mine in which he said, "Hardly any women I know need to lose weight. Most of them need to gain some." I cling to this statement when I'm feeling fat. If having this reported at secondhand isn't helpful, maybe try to start up a conversation with some male friends (maybe not dating prospects) about the general way in which women feel dissatisfied with their bodies? I've found that the men I know are often really concerned about how negatively their female friends perceive themselves, and are anxious to offer support.

Lastly, along the lines of "loving your own body" rather than "believing that men find you attractive"... I don't have a tv anymore. It makes a big difference in how I think about my body. Sad (maybe) but true. I was never into women's magazines but probably ditto for those.
posted by SymphonyNumberNine at 10:57 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

This doesn't deal with the emotional side of things at all and I think you're getting good advice along that front, but maybe look at Racing Weight. Athletically it's not so much about scale weight, but lean body mass and body fat percentage. It may help you understand where you are on the continuum for your sports. And if (if) you want to make changes suggest how to do so for better athletic performance. I'm guessing, though, that you're already pretty far above average.
posted by turbodog at 11:00 AM on September 3, 2010

First off, you are totally and unreservedly not a fatass. You really, really are not. You're a triathlete! You run marathons! Those things are freaking hard. Seriously, the effort and mental strength it takes to get through physical activity of that level and length like that are not in any way indicators of a 'fatass', whatever you think a fatass may be.

Ignore the size tag on clothes. Close your eyes and buy things that fit and completely ignore the size. Sizing is varied, bizarre, and is in no way the same across different clothing brands - across three continents, I've been everywhere from a small to a large: sizing makes no logical sense, so don't use it as a marker for what you think big or small is. Buy things that make you feel gorgeous. Buy things that make you feel badass. Stand up straight with your shoulders back. Get rid of your scale.

Consider this - if you're venturing out into the dating (mine)field and you run across men who are hyper-critical of your body, you've just separated the dudes who aren't worth your time from the dudes who are. You're at a weight that is completely and utterly normal. You're an athlete who runs (60+ miles in a week; lady, I am dying of jealousy here) and bikes and swims and uses her muscles on a constant basis - you need your muscle to move you. You say your body finds it hard to lose weight without losing muscle - maybe it doesn't want to lose weight, you know? If people are judging you, who cares? Haters gonna hate, so don't waste time thinking about them. Try not to let them impact how you feel - you can run 60+ miles in a day, woman, you're awesome!
posted by zennish at 11:12 AM on September 3, 2010

...oh, wait. Er. 60+ in a week. *headdesk*
posted by zennish at 11:13 AM on September 3, 2010

"Ignore the size tag on clothes.... Sizing is varied, bizarre, and is in no way the same... sizing makes no logical sense, so don't use it as a marker for what you think big or small is. Buy things that make you feel gorgeous."

I wanted to add a thought on to this... If you find a completely phenomenal piece of clothing and it makes you look like amazing and you love how you feel in it...

cut out the size tag.

I have a couple items that make me look wonderful, but for whatever reason the size tag bothered me. I just snipped it out, and now when I put on the outfit, the experience is 100% sexy-making rather than that 90/10 of "hm, I just wish it were a size X instead of a size Z."
posted by pineapple at 11:33 AM on September 3, 2010

To be totally honest (I feel like a few posters here are being a bit unrealistic): 150lb at 5'8" sounds a bit heavy to me for the average woman.

However, you're clearly not average - you're running 60 miles a week! The chances of that extra weight being fat are slim to none. Even for men like me who are usually turned off by extra fat, anyone as fit as you is likely very attractive.
posted by ripley_ at 11:39 AM on September 3, 2010

I've started and deleted three comments so far - this question hits so close to home for me, and there are so many things I could say.

I'll start out by saying, for reference, that I am your age and weight, and two inches shorter. My weight has fluctuated by nearly a hundred pounds in the past decade. Not only have I felt too fat to date, but I have been rejected because of my weight.

Almost ten years ago, I weighed about 145, which is not skinny on my frame, but it was the lowest I'd weighed since middle school. I got that way by eating about three hundred calories a day, for weeks on end. I got a rush out of seeing the number on the scale change and getting smaller clothes, but I still felt fat. I still had a squishy stomach and my thighs still touched and it just wasn't good enough.

Today, I eat normally and have a rigorous but sane workout schedule. Whatever weird food and body issues I've had are in remission if not resolved. My thighs still touch. My stomach is still squishy, with the added bonus of cellulite and looser skin. But fuck it, I think I look rad. (I worry that I'm vain, even.) Every time I go to the gym, after I change into my running shorts, I stand in front of the full-length mirror and check out my awesome legs. Every time. I briefly acknowledge the blorpy muffin top that the shorts create, but who cares because look at those legs, my god I am a fucking champion.

I don't even remember looking in a mirror, or liking one thing about my body, or even knowing what I looked like, ten years ago.

We are as beautiful as we think we are. Start thinking you're beautiful. Make it a mission to convince yourself, like you are a witness from the Church of Floweredfish is Hot. It doesn't matter if you use logic or emotion or just repeat it until it sticks, what matters is that you sincerely believe it.

And if I am stockier than you, consider a ten-minute mile an accomplishment, and still think Under Armour should hire me as a model, then damn girl, you must have some smokin' legs. Buy some miniskirts.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:52 AM on September 3, 2010 [8 favorites]

"To be totally honest (I feel like a few posters here are being a bit unrealistic): 150lb at 5'8" sounds a bit heavy to me for the average woman. . .Even for men like me..."

In my experience, men generally drastically underestimate how much women weigh. I'm talking by a good 20 or 30 lbs sometimes. I've literally had male friends say any woman over 135 lbs is fat and these weren't guys being assholes or guys who only like very thin women. They said this in front of a group of women, nearly all of which were over (or well over in my case) 135 lbs. They were stunned when we, all of us were within a normal weight range, told them we were over that. They had no idea what 135 lbs actually looked like and thought we were were all well below 135 lbs, in fact I think they inflated the number to 135 lbs as to not to offend any of us because they thought there was no way any of us could weigh more than that. Apparently they thought that under our clothes we were all made of feathers and clouds.

The OP has a BMI under 23, even if she weren't all muscle she would not look a "bit heavy" I promise you.
posted by whoaali at 11:55 AM on September 3, 2010 [13 favorites]

A: YIKES! 5'8" and 115 pounds? That doesn't sound healthy at all, though given the circumstances of the weight loss, I understand how it happened... but you sound much healthier, not to mention much more attractive, now.

B: How to feel more confident about your body when dating. I could, of course, give the easy answer: "Show it to me!" ...but here's a better answer (unless you're in Portland and want to show your body to me. Grin! God, women are beautiful!!!) Sorry about that :) Here's the answer: Find a shopping buddy and let him/her help you.

Too many of our opinions of ourselves come from what we see in the mirror rather than what other people see when they look at us. This is a problem because we don't look in the mirror realistically. We judge ourselves too harshly. And we judge ourselves based on what we expect to see rather than by what we actually do see. Sometimes, by changing up our look, you can also shake off incorrect judgments too because you'll look in the mirror and see something... different.

One trick I've learned is to find someone who has the talent for knowing what clothes look good on a guy like me. We'll go shopping and I'll let her choose what I should be wearing. I end up trying on all sorts of things I normally wouldn't have, and I end up buying things that look much better on me because I stop listening to the voice in my head that says "Don't try that on."

This leads to...
#1: Learning to be a snappy dresser.
#2: Feeling more confident - especially when I go on dates.

I know it's probably hard for you to let go of the idea that you should be super skinny. It's possible that you were sexy at 115 pounds, but I kind of doubt it. Not at 5'8". You probably look much better now.


"I'm in the whole dating field where everyone seems to be hyper-critical."

People become hyper-critical because they're drowning in their own insecurities. If you're meeting men who are being hyper-critical, you need to change the way you're meeting men or change the sort of men you're seeking because they are the wrong men. On the other hand, if it's your friends who are being hyper-critical (especially your single friends), ignore them. Don't let their insecurities prevent you from having fun. When it comes to dating, fun really is the name of the game.

I can't speak for all men, but here's what I look for in a date:

Is she attractive enough that I want to at least kiss her?
Is she fun to be with?

BELIEVE ME, that second question is a trillion times more important than the first, especially since you and your date will have already decided each others' attractiveness within the first ten seconds of a first date. For me, there is nothing sexier than being on a date with a woman who is having a good time being with me.
posted by 2oh1 at 11:57 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

In my experience, men generally drastically underestimate how much women weigh.

Yes, I know I always do this. The hot woman mentioned above told me her exact weight, and I had underestimated it by seriously 20 lb. Please don't get stuck on the numbers. Guys don't know how much women weigh.
posted by grouse at 11:58 AM on September 3, 2010

In my experience, men generally drastically underestimate how much women weigh... The OP has a BMI under 23, even if she weren't all muscle she would not look a "bit heavy" I promise you.

Over or under, I have no idea about womens' weight either way so I consulted the Photographic Height/Weight Chart before posting - my response still stands.
posted by ripley_ at 12:07 PM on September 3, 2010

Hi, I'm you. I rock climb instead of run, and just do the swimming part of triathlons (relay triathlons=best thing ever), but otherwise, I'm you. 29, 5'8", 150 lbs.

Can't lose weight without losing muscle, plus I'm evil when I'm hungry, so that's where I'm at, and it's where I'm going to be. The only reason I even know what I weigh is a housemate moved in with a scale; I didn't even think about it at all before then. (So, seriously, throw out your scale. Why do you even have that thing? If it didn't belong to my housemate I sure would toss it.)

Haircut does wonders for changing your looks, if you feel the need to mix it up a bit. Same with well-fitting clothes (although finding them when you've got an athletic build as a woman can be a total drag).

Also, one more comment: I also feel big sometimes. Mostly I revel in that size though; I'm a strong woman and that's kinda awesome. This body lets me do some amazing things (as does yours, clearly, if you're doing traithlons and running 60 mi a week); so I let myself be amazed by it (and that's a pretty sexy feeling). If you sometimes feel awkward because of your size, I'd recommend adding in an activity that gives you more body awareness-- yoga, climbing, dancing, etc.
posted by nat at 12:07 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

5'8 and 150 lbs. is NOT heavy for the average woman. It's a BMI of 22.8, and a healthy BMI is 18.5–24.9 - though even higher values can be healthy for very athletic/muscular people such as you. 115 lbs. would put you at 17.5 which is medically underweight. To boot, the average American/Canadian/British woman is overweight. Your weight is perfectly healthy and you are doing much better than the average woman.

Nthing that men do not understand how much women weigh. I am 5'7 and weigh 135 lbs.; my ex-boyfriend guessed that I weighed 110 and was shocked when I told him how much I weighed because he thought women over 130 lbs. were "chubby".
posted by vanitas at 12:09 PM on September 3, 2010

Do your clothes actually fit you? When was the last time you had a decent bra fitting? If you're wearing frump wear because you were "bad" and gained weight, you probably need to buy some new clothes, and then get them tailored if they don't fit right.

What about your hair? Do you get manicures and pedicures (running's hard on your feet, as you probably know.)

Having all the right bits makes your body female, what you chose to do to and with it makes you feminine.

If you don't want to sacrifice muscle, (and who would), maybe some Pilates or yoga might make you feel relaxed, etc. How about massages?

If you're all solid muscle, you might want to think about stretching them out a bit more. Dance classes?
posted by Ideefixe at 12:12 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I want to echo the idea that men are clueless about a woman's weight.

I am a man.
I am clueless.
posted by 2oh1 at 12:20 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Stacy" is 5'8" and 150lbs. I think she's attractive, and does NOT appear to be "fat" by any means.

Her jeans don't seem to hit her hips in a flattering way, but all she needs is to get a different pair that fit better. She does NOT need to lose 35lbs.

As other guys in the thread have speculated... we can't tell what you weigh. I would have guessed Stacy was about 130lbs if I were to see her on the street.
posted by Fleebnork at 12:52 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would echo zephyr_words and telegraph. I don't have too much to add, as I'm not a woman and haven't dealt with this kind of issue myself. I think it's always a good idea to use athletic performance and goals as a source of pride about one's body, as it sounds like you're already doing. You say you're a marathon runner and triathlete, but I'd assume you have specific goals you're trying to reach within those events, which is important.

I will say this, though:

Guys don't know how much women weigh.

I think it's more like "people don't know how much people weigh." In my experience, both men and women have all sorts of bizarre ideas about body measurements and how they relate to appearance and performance, and I see it on metafilter all the time. Folks will in one breath decry BMI as useless, then in the next make very conclusive pronouncements about a person's health and physique based simply on their height and weight. The fact is height and weight are just a part of the big picture, and for athletes it's important to understand the relationship of bodyweight and body composition and anthropometry and nutrition to the performance of their particular sport. It doesn't really make sense, for example, to tell someone that their weight must be mostly muscle since they're a marathon runner.

So anyhow, I agree with the folks who say not to place more importance on any particular measurement than it deserves. If you're a true athlete, as many of us strive to be, you'll understand the requirements for performance in your sport, you'll train accordingly, and you'll be able to find plenty of people who will find your body attractive.
posted by JohnMarston at 12:52 PM on September 3, 2010

Anecdotal: toss the scale and buy clothes you like that fit your body as it currently is. I'm a healthy woman with a very, very strong self-image, and even I get kind of thrown off by all the numbers that get tossed around for what women "should" weigh. I don't own a scale and I weigh myself maybe twice a year, and I'm always surprised to discover that I weigh more than I thought I did. I have some vision in my head for what a 5'5" woman should weigh, and that image just never matches what I actually weigh. Considering that half the time my weight, and any change thereof, doesn't correspond to the healthfulness of my diet, the amount of exercise I'm getting, or even the size I'm wearing, I've decided that paying attention to the number just gives it more power than it should have.

That said, buying and owning clothes that fit you as you currently are is really important. I've had some size fluctuation over the last couple of years and it is a sad, sad thing to have that dress hanging in the closet that you can't wear anymore. I miss that dress! I love that dress! My feelings about my clothes and attractiveness have changed considerably now that I'm not having to alter skirts with safety pins. Having clothes that make me look great the way I look now-- as opposed to making me look great as I looked three years ago-- is a much bigger confidence-builder.

Lastly, as a single woman with a lot of single friends, I can promise you that pretty much every woman on the dating market finds something to blame herself for, appearance-wise. It can make you crazy. Remember, you're not looking for someone who's looking for some idealized, indolent fashion-model version of you-- you're looking for someone who's looking for you, marathon-running, food-eating and all.
posted by posadnitsa at 12:57 PM on September 3, 2010

Well, floweredfish, it seems by the standards you are applying to yourself, I am a giant disgusting fatass. (Same height as you, but I outweigh you by about 100 pounds or so. And yet I'm only 3 sizes larger than you! That should point out how jacked up clothing sizing is these days, and why it's not a reliable indicator of anything at all.) Been this way for a long time. And yet I've got a kickass loving partner who thinks the sun shines out of my ass, and before I met him I didn't exactly have a problem finding dates.

Why? Because I like myself. It took a long, long, LONG time to get here, mostly because I was buying into the idea that I wasn't "good enough" the way I am. I pretty much considered myself sub-human, actually.

Here are the things that got me to drop the self-loathing:

1. Therapy.
2. The size acceptance movement (specifically Kate Harding's blog, Shapely Prose, at http://kateharding.net, but there are so many other great size acceptance blogs out there).
3. Throwing out my scale. If I can weigh myself every day, I end up exhibiting seriously disordered eating, so it's better for me to use how my clothes fit as a guide instead of going by a number on the scale, especially since I'm a woman which means that number goes friggin' haywire for about half the month due to hormones. It's an unreliable indicator.
4. Yoga. Doing an activity that encourages paying attention to my breathing and what my body is doing and how it feels, without being focused on anything but my positioning/alignment/etc., really helps silence the barbershop quartet of self-criticism that sometimes goes on in my mind when I'm doing other activities like running or biking.
5. Buying clothes that actually fit and flatter me. This is the big one -- instead of cramming myself into clothes a size too small because the number on the tag is more flattering to my ego, or trendy clothes that frankly look like crap on everyone but 13 year old models, I started checking out fat-fashion blogs for inspiration. If ladies who are many sizes larger than me can dress fabulously and be full of confidence, what's stopping me? I see some folks upthread recommended enlisting the help of a personal shopper -- I didn't go that route, but then I have a few friends who are super fashionable and will be honest with me if something looks like crap, so I got them to help me learn what sorts of things look good on me and what doesn't. Use your friends, hire a personal shopper or something, but the key is to ditch the clothes that don't fit right or don't flatter you, and get things that make you feel beautiful when you wear them. Check out fashion blogs for inspiration, whether they're for straight-size women like yourself, or plus size women, or whatever.

And finally, the hyper-critical people that you might encounter in the dating world? They're being that way because they're scared and insecure about themselves. I briefly dated a guy a couple of years ago who told me when he broke up with me that I was too boring, too crazy, and way too fat and gross (seriously!) for him to date. (Funny how none of that bothered him in the bedroom, but I digress.) I'm still not sure what the deal was with his need to make me feel like shit about myself, but I'd just like to point out to you that that guy, two years later, is still single and unable to maintain a relationship for longer than a month. Actually, now that I give it some serious thought, most of the dudes I know who are hyper-critical about other's appearance are perpetually single, and bitter as hell. Kind of funny, isn't it.
posted by palomar at 1:21 PM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'm an on-again, off-again distance runner so my weight has fluctuated quite a bit before due to my eating habits not always matching up with my changing running habits. I feel big at times even though I am much shorter than you are, just because it feels odd to have so much new flesh on my body that wasn't there a few months ago. What has helped was, yes, clothes/haircut/accessories that fit and flatter, and a better sense of the huge variety of things that people find sexy. Doing more body-conscious things helps too--for me all it takes is some basic gymnastics or dancing along to a song to feel good in my body.

I don't know if you have good posture or not, but sometimes it helps to straighten up before you go out. When I gain weight I start hunching over, trying to make myself smaller in an attempt to keep people from looking at me. Basically, the act of straightening up says: "Fuck this, I like myself. Look at me, world--I wouldn't change a damn thing!". It's a bit silly, and a bit defensive, but it's usually makes me feel more comfortable and happy in my own skin.
posted by millions of peaches at 1:37 PM on September 3, 2010

I think it depends on what your frame is like. But it's tough to assert total control over your body, so I think you should just concentrate on being healthy and letting your body do what it is going to do. Your goals shouldn't be weight related, but strength building related and eating for nutrition and health.

We're getting older and if you lose weight unnecessarily like by just watching calories and dieting excessively, you're going to cause more harm to your body that can't be undone and you'll feel it (like with aches and pains and feeling off). Concentrate on your health and heading into your 40s strong, and forget about weight and numbers.
posted by anniecat at 2:09 PM on September 3, 2010

Nthing that men do not understand how much women weigh. I am 5'7 and weigh 135 lbs.
Most people can't judge weight well -- there's no real reason to develop such an ability unless you're a personal trainer or something. Your specs almost precisely match my gf, and she has super-muscular legs and is a little soft around the middle. She wants to stay around 125-130, which would be about perfect for her, IMSHO. That's not to say that you're at all overweight - others in the same height/weight range will differ based on natural thickness of limbs and shoulder width.

Her jeans don't seem to hit her hips in a flattering way, but all she needs is to get a different pair that fit better.
Once you're dating, you're probably not going to be wearing jeans all the time. Look good naked and you don't have to rely on clothing to flatter you.

Lots of folks here are saying, "Throw away the scale." That can be good advice if you have a good eye and can honestly evaluate yourself. But for most of us, the scale can be a great device for monitoring how we look -- the important thing is to compare yourself not to other people, but to yourself. Get to a weight you think is ideal, and use the scale to make sure you stay there. (I'm happy with myself at 180-185, for example, but at 190 I need to back off both the weights and the food, and at 170 I need to eat and work out more.) IOW, the scale can help you see (and address) fluctuations that the mirror will not.

A better way to monitor how you look is to take pics of yourself naked from several angles. Do this every few months, and critique yourself honestly. The mirror lies; the camera doesn't.

Finally, 115 is too skinny for a 5'7" adult woman!
posted by coolguymichael at 2:29 PM on September 3, 2010

I speak from the confidence of knowing an outsider view of your exact situation. My wife was thin. In decent shape, but thin. Then she started a martial arts class. Now she is crazy, crazy FIT. And still thin! She gained, no joke, well over 15lbs of muscle.

Recently one of her doctors remarked disparagingly about her weight. I told her her doctor was crazy. She's crazy fit. Her weight increase ONLY means she's gained muscle and burned fat. That's a good thing!

She's had similar frustrations about clothes not fitting, etc. I told her, "oh my God, what a great problem to have!"

You should determine if your weight increase is really "fat" or if it's muscle. You sound pretty fit. I bet you that you look just fine.

Long story short, you cannot go by the numbers on a scale. You can't even go by BMI. I bet you look fantastic. You're so fit but you don't even know it because you're conditioned to be scared about numbers on a scale.
posted by carlh at 3:05 PM on September 3, 2010

Thanks everyone - there were some awesome responses here and they all gave me some good stuff to think about. Thanks.
posted by floweredfish at 3:11 PM on September 3, 2010

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