I saw a post last week at Almost Frugal called Losing Weight: Pure Vanity or Money Saver? I bookmarked it, meaning to go back to it and give that topic the “thinking out loud treatment” here on the blog. Then I couldn’t get online…whatever. In the meantime, this morning I heard on the news that the unhealthiest city in the U.S. is Huntington, WV – my birthplace. I’m not sure what criteria they used, but they did say that half of the people in Huntington are obese. I’m not entirely surprised; West Virginia is a state with major obesity problems. I am a little surprised though. Huntington is a college town, which usually means more highly educated residents who tend to their health, and it’s a very walkable city – there are sidewalks everywhere, and a big beautiful park, Ritter Park, with a walking path and gardens. It’s interesting, and it’s very sad.
So in addition to saving money vs. vanity as reasons to lose weight, I would add health reasons. Even though I left WV more than 20 years ago, I still have WV genes – which means I have a tendency to be overweight. Fortunately, I’ve never qualified to be obese – although my grandmother did, who spent most of her adult life in Huntington. Hmmm.
When I speak of health reasons, I don’t just mean preventing heart disease, or cancer, or arthritis, or lowering blood pressure, or blood sugar, or any of the usual suspects. I live alone (except for Ralph, of course), and it’s up to me to be able to mow my lawn and lift 40 pound bags of dog food and climb a ladder and do all the other things that have to get done around a house. In order to do all those things, I have to maintain a certain level of fitness as I get older. Maintaining a certain level of fitness means not having to haul around 20 extra pounds of me. That’s why exercise is much more important to me than diet when it comes to losing weight. A diet won’t increase my fitness much, but I did 45 minutes on the step this morning, and that will definitely get me more fit.
Having said all that…
Vanity is not such a big reason for me to lose weight. Being tall, I can carry 20 extra pounds and continue to successfully disguise it (at least that’s what people tell me). Being over 50, I’m not all that concerned with what other people think of my looks any more either. (I’m not saying that’s normal or common for women over 50; I’m just saying that’s true of me since I turned 50. It’s been very liberating.)
I definitely want my clothes to fit better, and that’s one way to save money. When you’re squeezing into clothes, areas that rub together wear out faster than they would if the thighs weren’t quite so big around. I had to buy a new pair of jeans in a bigger size earlier this year, because none of my old jeans fit. That wasn’t saving money.
I also think that it’s easier to find clothes off the rack that fit when you are at a non-obese weight. When you start getting into larger sizes, especially over 16, things start to go up in price. All the catalogs charge more for “women’s” sizes than “misses” sizes. I don’t know if stores do the same, because I’ve never had to look at the “big girls” clothes in a store, but I bet they do. I’m sure they justify it by having to use more material, the same way they often charge more for pants or skirts if you get them in tall sizes.
When things fit more easily, you spend less money trying to find something that fits right. I’ve bought clothes in the past that “sort of” fit, only to find that I never wore them because they just didn’t feel right on me. If you’re at a non-obese weight, everything fits more easily.
After this “thinking out loud” session, it seems that I am losing weight for two reasons – to save money by being able to continue to wear the clothes I have, and to maintain my independence.
And I hope the people in Huntington will take this as a call to get out and walk on those nice sidewalks and in that beautiful park and be able to hand that title off to another city next time.