13 Dec Used to Never Have to
I was blessed with good genes, thankfully. Of course, I didn’t know to be thankful for them until I was well past the age where one begins to notice that time has caught up to you. I never struggled with weight or had allergies, disease or sensitivities that limited what I ate. Of course, I overlooked these benefits and instead concentrated on the size of my thighs and breasts and my unruly, unstylish curly hair (thanks to Glamour and Cosmopolitan magazines).
Now that I can ignore the media and know that the ideal body is a myth, I am grateful every day that I generally feel and look good. It’s not especially easy, though. I do monitor what I eat and exercise regularly. If I didn’t, I’m sure I’d be heavier and feel poorly most of the time. I know this because if I let go just a little, it begins to happen. And that wasn’t a big deal in the past. Let go a little, relax for a weekend or a week of vacation, and then get back on track the next day or week and the few extra pounds would fall off and I’d get right back into exercising with little or no discomfort.
But that was then.
If you asked me to pinpoint the age when things just didn’t come so easily anymore, I don’t know what I’d say. Perhaps it was 45, or maybe a year or two before. It didn’t happen overnight. I do know that now, at 47, I have a little belly where I used to not. I have a little extra flesh around my hips too, and I can’t just eat a piece of pizza or a bowl of pasta without getting cramps and feeling bloated. I used to never have to worry about those things.
But now I do.
You, as the reader, have probably had some kind of judgement by now. Maybe you are someone who has been overweight your whole life, or maybe you are someone who has a sensitivity or allergy to deal for every single morsel you put in your mouth. Perhaps you are too thin or an exercise addict that can’t imagine “letting go” just a little. We all have our battles, some obvious to others, some not.
What my “used to never have to” issue has done for me is to see things with a new perspective; one, perhaps, that is way overdue. Sometimes you just can’t step things up for a short while to eliminate the problem. Sometimes, even stepping things up doesn’t make a difference. Sometimes, you know better than to compromise your comfort and happiness for the sake of looking “good,” whatever that means.
Acceptance is hard. Some may see it as giving up. Perhaps it is. Or maybe it’s just shifting the perspective of what “should be” is.
I find comfort in a famous artifact. The Venus of Willendorf, or the Woman of Willendorf, is a four-inch statuette of a female figure estimated to have been made between about 28,000 and 25,000 BC. Before ice cream. Ms. Willendorf is, in a word, fat. But, archaeologists theorize that she represented beauty and fertility. Who knows, of course, but there’s probably some truth to it. More recently, artists from Greece and Rome and then later Europe depicted women who weren’t necessarily obese, but certainly not like the models we see today.
I go back and forth with how I feel about my little extra. Some days I vow to eat less and exercise more. Other days I wonder why I care when I’m already eating well and exercising regularly. Perhaps I’m supposed to look like this at this time of my life. Or, when I see women my age or older who look more fit, I think, “I can get back there if I try a little harder.” Today, I’m OK with myself. I may not be tomorrow. Either way, it’s my own thing and it’s OK. I accept that.