Choosing Your Ideal Size

Your ideal size is the size that feels the best, at which you have the most energy, the best health, and the highest self-confidence and self-esteem. In the following, you will learn several methods for determining your ideal size. We recommend simple strategies but also have included the preferred medical ways to select your size.

Beware the Scales

Thank goodness, scales are finally out of favor. More and more people and professionals understand the limitations of scales and are finding other methods for measuring body size.

A scale doesn't really tell you much that you don't already know, but for a perfectly harmless device in itself, a scale sure can alter a person's moods. If you get on a scale in the morning and have lost a pound, you can feel great about yourself all day. Inside, however, you may be wondering why it wasn't two pounds. If you have stayed at the same weight as the day before, you are doing fine, but on second thought, not all that well. If the scale reads more than yesterday, you feel like a failure, get depressed, and question the validity of your diet and your self-discipline. You probably also will question the accuracy of the scale! By the end of the day, you can descend into a dire sense of failure that cries out for food, glorious food, to soothe your lowered sense of self-esteem.

Scales scientifically measure your specific gravity in relationship to the earth. That's all. They do not tell you how you look or how much body fat you have. They don't measure what's truly going on inside your body. They only measure your weight at a very specific point in time; they tell you nothing about how you fit into your clothes. But try explaining that logic to a person who compulsively visits the scale six to eight times a day.

A woman who has plenty of healthy muscle mass may appear to be the same size as a woman who has a high percentage of body fat. Who weighs more? The first woman weighs more because muscle weighs more than fat. A cubic inch of muscle weighs more than a cubic inch of fat. Every cubic inch of fat you release and every cubic inch of muscle you gain will make you look thinner, although your weight may not go down.

As you do the strength-training exercises to increase your muscle tone and shape, you could end up weighing more than your goal—and looking better than your goal.

One middle-aged male client, Bill, came to his fifth class session delighted that he needed to purchase a new belt. He had lost about 5 to 6 inches from his waist, but he lamented that he hadn't lost any weight at all. What happened? Bill's new exercise regime and eating patterns resulted in lost inches. Many inches. The weight on the scale was not relevant. He was already at the size he wanted.

It might feel scary to not step on the scale daily. Get over it. If the scale is too tempting, put it in cold storage and haul it out once a year for an annual “weigh-in.”

How Do Your Jeans Fit?

Jeans are rather unforgiving. They don't have an elastic waistband (at least, we hope they don't). They aren't made from some stretchy knit fabric designed to let you grow unhindered and unobserved. They are denim, rugged and classic denim. They don't budge for your bulges.

Do you have a favorite pair of jeans that you've saved because they once fit? Do you secretly long for the day when you can zip them up comfortably and know you look great? Save those jeans. They are your benchmark for how you are doing with your weight loss. Keep them for the rest of your life.

Now that you're heading toward your ideal size, try on your old favorite jeans every month or so. The jeans cannot lie. They're always the same size. As you progress toward your ideal size, you will easily see the progress you are making. When you finally fit into them, it's a real “hurrah!” moment, one you will savor and use for continual inspiration.

Lean Lingo

Whatever ideal size you choose, affirm you are that size frequently throughout your day. Say, “I now wear a size (insert your ideal size).” Say it even if you aren't at that weight yet. This may sound nuts to you. That's okay. Say it anyway. Affirm your ideal size as often as you think about it. This activity will propel you toward your goal.

Using the jeans method for determining your ideal size means you don't need to weigh in. Of course, it's not a scientific measurement. Do you care? If you need a target number, you might need another measuring stick. But many people who are already thin use this method to stay at their ideal size. The instant their jeans are tight, they are careful about food intake for a couple of days or weeks until their jeans once again fit comfortably.

Jeans make you feel sexy. They are youthful, fun, and speak loudly and proudly of your weight-loss success.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Healthy Weight Loss © 2005 by Lucy Beale and Sandy G. Couvillon. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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