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Poll: The Difference of Five Pounds

August 3, 2009

Last month’s poll

Last month we discussed the different diets that we have all tried. We had 103 votes: 26% have tried low fat, 25% have tried low carb, 21% have tried vegetarian, 12% have tried vegan, 9% have tried raw food, 2% have tried paleo, and 5% have tried another kind of diet not listed. The range just goes to show that we have a huge amount of options to choose from!

This month’s poll

After remaining at exactly the same weight for about a year now, going up or down only about a pound on occasion, I have gained five pounds in the past two months. It’s not muscle, either: exercising considerably less (someone please kick my butt into strength training!) but still eating the same amount that I did while participating in boot camp naturally leads to weight gain.

Realistically, I know that five pounds is nothing. Five pounds extra is still healthy. Five pounds less would be vanity weight. It’s not changing my athletic abilities or hindering my lifestyle at all. And I’m pretty sure that I’m the only person who can actually see that I’ve gained five pounds.

But a few pounds really does make a difference. One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed is that the extra five pounds is actually keeping me warmer. It might be August, but it still feels as though it’s spring in my city. Even on the cooler days when it’s raining the way it was all last week, I haven’t felt nearly as miserably chilly as I normally would. I’ve actually been able to function in the cooler weather. For the past year whenever it’s been cold I have just curled up and been grumpy and unable to do anything except shiver and complain.

Maybe it isn’t really physical. Maybe five pounds doesn’t make that much of a difference physically, and my new-found tolerance to the cold is actually a state of mind. Personally I doubt that it’s purely mental but I’m sure that a big part of it is. Read any magazine and it will tell you how to drop five or ten pounds, but if you are already a healthy weight, what is five pounds going to do?

Reading Spring Girl’s post last week, this paragraph jumped out at me:

A few months back I’d played with a friend’s bio electrical impedance scale so I had an idea of where I was at then and where I should be now. I was horrified to discover that the fat percentage had remained the same. Instantly I felt huge, like I’d just gained back about 5kg as the number flashed up in front of me. As soon as I got home I had to try on my measuring pants. They still fit, but that doubt that I am fat didn’t.

I think that if the clothes still fit, we’re probably doing alright. If we’re exercising regularly and eating fairly healthy, then what do a few pounds mean? This is why it can be dangerous to use any kind of measuring device besides our clothes. We rely too much on the “science” and not about how we actually look and feel (measuring devices can also be faulty, muscle weighs more than fat, and our weight can fluctuate by five pounds in one day. What I’m talking about here, however, is if we set aside those potentially contributing factors).

On the other hand, losing five pounds can decrease your risk of diseases by 25-50% (presumably this is if you are overweight), which would lead to the conclusion that a few pounds does make a physical difference. What do you think? Does losing or gaining five pounds make a physical difference, a mental difference, or both? Answer the poll and elaborate in the comments!

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22 comments

  1. Im the woman who loves the muscles (shocking I know).
    so, were I to gain TEN POUNDS and my clothes still fit?
    Id be over the moon.
    were I to gain five pounds and my clothes not fit but id been on vacation or just living a lot (birthdays, family visits, weddings etc—been there :)) Id be ok with it entirely!

    if I gained a handful of pounds, the clothes no longer fit and I was eating in a way which was NOT about the food but about emotion—-Id know it was time to get back to something else.

    journaling?
    making more MEtime?

    something.

    it all depends on the gain for me.


  2. Hmmm… I put that it effects me both mentally and physically, the latter tho not because of my health (I don’t think 5 pounds makes one lick of difference to my body healthwise) but rather because of performance. I can do more pull-ups and run faster the less I weigh – even if it’s just 5 pounds. And the mental aspect? We won’t go there today…


  3. I had to think about your poll for a minute. I’ve gained a few pounds too since cutting out boot camp, but the clothes are still fitting so I’m not that concerned mentally about it. However, I have noticed – believe it or not – the extra pounds when I run. So I’m on a quest to get down to a certain weight so that running becomes easier again.


  4. After I lost weight, I noticed a much bigger difference mentally than physically. With an extra 15 pounds, I was still “healthy.” But without it, I just FEEL so much better. Really, though, so much of it has to do with confidence (for me, at least!).


  5. It affects me both ways. When I hit my goal weight 12 years ago, I decided to give myself a 3 pound fluctuation range. If I hit the top number, I watch what I eat for a few days. That way I don’t let the pounds creep up on me – which happened in the past!

    Honestly, you look wonderful, and I wouldn’t worry a bit about your weight.

    For me, I listen to my body, watch the scale, and try and eat healthy. I don’t always succeed – but I do my best!


  6. great post – I try and listen to my body, but sometimes it really is hard not to define yourself by a number.


  7. OK, so we are all crazy here! That said, the rule is if you gain 2 pounds, pay attention, if you gain 5 pounds panic! I’m not referring to fit people like you and I. I’m a little biased here. I’ve had too many friends who were fit in their 20’s and now are a mess due to weight. Both diseases and broken down body parts :-(

    Look Sagan, you are at that age when people tend to trend heavier because of lifestyle and physiologic changes. Just reverse the trend toward a downward direction, nothing drastic.


  8. MizFit- I very much agree! If I’m eating well and exercising a good amount, I don’t care so much about the scale. It’s when I know that I’m not putting in the effort that I could that I know it’s time to do something about it.

    Charlotte & Eileen- funny, one of my best friends said the same thing the other day! She said that she noticed a significant difference in her ability to run from a few pounds.

    Holly- yep. And if a few pounds one way or another makes you feel more confident, then it can be a huge help.

    Diane- it’s all about intuition, right? …and not letting it get out of hand!

    Shannon- is it ever. Sighs. I find it tricky to have that kind of balance :)

    Dr. J- heh, yes, we ARE all crazy :) And I think you’re right; that’s good sensible logic right there.


  9. i think it depends on which 5 lbs… if that makes sense? or maybe it’s just that i’m still working on the acceptance thing…


  10. I think that it shouldn’t matter… but 5 pounds less than 5 pounds less than 5 pounds less… can be dangerous. And so can it be going the other direction. ::shrug:: It’s only 5 pounds at the time. Not sure how to say what I’m trying to say, lol.


  11. I highly doubt 5 lbs would matter much if you’re a healthy woman. I myself drop/gain 5 lbs a day depending on whether I made a trip to the bathroom or not!


  12. Thanks for the shout out! Five pounds on me going either way is noticeable, but it’s my mind that turns it into a gain or loss of epic proportions. Silly brain!


  13. I wouldn’t have felt it when I was bigger, but now that I’m a bloody 5 pounds from being “normal weight”, I want to get there already. Even a large meal makes me feel crappy physically and mentally, maybe when my weight drops a bit more and stabilizes someday, I’ll think more about it, and what my range will be allowed to be. Guess I better finish moving and get back to the gym.


  14. Since I’m short, the five-pound loss/gain is noticeable and affects me both ways. Thankfully, I’ve been maintaining a healthy weight and don’t even use the scale anymore. I go with how my clothes fit and how I’m feeling: sluggish, light, energetic, etc.


  15. It’s probably more a mental thing than a physical thing for me, but I put both, because I do feel it in the way I move and my clothes and such.

    Mentally it’s about trying to keep an even keel and not slip back into that yo-yoing diet mentality, where 5 lbs too quickly can become 10 for me.


  16. ttfn300- somehow, I know EXACTLY what you mean.

    Maggie- very true!

    Burpexcuzme- reason number 23493827 why scales are silly instruments :)

    Spring Girl & Berni- that’s the main problem, isn’t it? It just all goes out of proportion.

    Julie- that’s a good point to make, too. Depending on what our goals are and how much we’ve had to lose/gain in the past, that can make a big difference in the changes that we perceive.

    Mia- how we’re feeling is the most important thing! But, being short as well, I find that a few pounds really does seem to make a difference on this frame.


  17. At my height, 5 lbs makes a difference to how my clothes fit. The other thing to keep in mind is why/how that 5 lb was gained – because ignoring it could lead to it turning into 10 or 15 or 20.

    Not meaning that you should panic Sagan – just talking about how it affects me, and how I think about it. :)


  18. Since my weight has fluctuated as much as three pounds in a day for decades, five pounds is not noticeable in how I feel or how my clothes fit.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky


  19. Dear Sagan, something I love about the blogging world is that you can always find someone going through the same thing you are: yesterday I realized I have also gained 5 lbs!!!!! Completely justified, though, I’ve had two weeks of back-to-back celebratory/farewell lunches (I’m leaving my job in Calgary and moving to Toronto) so I’ve over-done it a bit with the eating. I see you say you’ve slowed down your exercise and that has affected you. I’ve actually increased my exercise by 2.5 hours/week in the last month, but I still gained weight. In all my years with weight-control, I have found that diet accounts for about 90% of my weight, exercise just doesn’t seem to affect me that much… of course it helps with toning and everything, but not with actual weight loss.
    Anyway the 5 lbs weigh on me like a ton of lard. I feel quite gross and my mind starts going dangerous places… it’s all in my head, though, I’m sure I “look” the same… but I feel like my thighs rub, like I have a muffin top, and like my butt is JLo-sized (prior to liposuction!).
    Now I’m scared because I’ll be traveling for a couple of months, which always makes me gain weight… I’m actually going through a bit of an anxiety attack about it :(


  20. [...] question here at Living Healthy is this: what is the definition of an eating disorder? This month’s poll is about the physical and mental affects of gaining or losing a few pounds, so I’d like to [...]


  21. [...] month we talked about whether five pounds makes that much of a difference. The results are in! We had 57 total voters. 21% say that gaining or losing five pounds affects [...]


  22. [...] And we don’t even NEED a study to tell us that our own self-image greatly effects our feelings of attractiveness and sex appeal. Even losing as little as five pounds can decrease your risk of disease by 25% – 50%. [...]



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