This morning I stepped on the scale. I had successfully avoided the brightly colored floral 70’s style square torture device for weeks. I was grossly offended by the number that cruelly stared back at me early this morning as I stood in my bathroom and looked at my naked form in the mirror, sadly peering back at me.
Gone are the days I could eat whatever I want, and my over-zealous metabolism would handle the excess of calories. I have never dealt with weight issues; well, until I turned 40 and everything started going south (my boobs, my thighs, my muffin top). When I was a young girl, I was teased for being skinny. For not having boobs and failing to develop at the same rate as my girlfriends, who rapidly morphed into women while I still appeared a small child.
My struggles began after having children
I used my body mass to my advantage by running distance in cross-country and track. I never dreamed that the daily struggles of putting on weight that I saw in my friends, family members, and even husband (at the time) dealt with, would become a factor in my own life. I had several other issues to content with; weight was simply not a concern in my childhood and early adulthood.
Then, I had two sons. Two very large sons. While I lost the baby weight after my first child fairly easily, I struggled a bit more with the second. The breast feeding helped tremendously as it is a calorie burner like none other. Only, one cannot breast-feed forever. While I was able to successfully lose the baby weight, my body wasn’t quite the same. My inner abdominal muscles had been wretchedly stretched from the nearly ten-pound boys I delivered within a span of three years. Due to the number of stitches I had with my first son, I had an excessive growth of scar tissue, which had to be surgically removed from my vagina. ‘Ouch’ was a gross understatement.
Reconciling with my post-baby body
My once thin thighs and hips have rounded into what some may call ‘child-bearing hips’; though I am on the cusp of no longer being ‘child-bearing’ age. My thighs, which once boasted a beautiful ‘gap factor’ (I learned that term from a guy I dated years ago), have now magically found each other and prefer to sit, joined together, rather than occupy their own space with plenty of dignified void in-between.
In many ways, I feel more confident and secure in myself at this stage of life than I did 10 years ago, when in my thirties. I am no longer that insecure, waif of a woman, who feels too weary and inhibited to chase after her dreams. With age, comes a stark reality check that time is quickly marching on and waits for no man (or woman, in this case). On the other hand, physically, I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the body of my youth. The flat abs, the skinny thighs; heck, at this point, I’d even take the flat chest just to rid myself of extra cushion in other areas of my body.
I know it is taboo to talk negatively about our bodies as women. We live in a culture where embracing ourselves and each other is highly commendable. I love that. I honestly love my body as well. But that does not mean that I don’t miss what ‘once was’ when it comes to my physical appearance. I believe a woman can appreciate the present vessel, while still mourning the past version of herself.
Yes, that flabby skin around my mid-section did house the two loves of my life, my sons. I may not be able to run as fast as I once did. I may not turn heads or have people wondering if I have an eating disorder (nope, just blessed with a high metabolism early in life; which seems to be grossly slowing down with each passing day). I still feel beautiful. I still love my body. I still feel sexy and I still turn heads. But we all morph into characters previously unknown to us; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It is the cycle of life.
Our bodies are a gift
With age, things do not come as easily. At this stage in life, I really have to weigh options for the delicious frivolities I once popped into my mouth without a second thought. Now, I tend to trade that 550 calorie Frappuccino for an iced tea (unsweet) so that I can enjoy a glass of wine later in the evening. Oh sure, I still indulge. At times, I over-indulge. But I try to re-set, re-focus and reign it in when I realize I have been irresponsible with what I put into this body I was given.
Our bodies are a gift. It is up to us how they function, how they appear, and how they feel as we tread through this often-discouraging world in which we live. I truly want my body to go the distance, metaphorically speaking. I may be at the stage of life where, like a once new car has racked up a few thousand miles, and now demands a bit more TLC, I have to endure more maintenance checks than ever before. But trying to keep up with my two boys, who are now 9 and 11, I see that I have no choice. They need me. I need them. I need to be healthy and active enough to attend their myriad of sports activities, high school graduation, going off to college, meeting that dream girl and hopefully, someday, giving me a lapful of bouncing baby grandchildren.
In the meantime, I will continue to avoid the scale at all costs. I know my body well. I can tell when it is reaching the limit and I need to be more diligent about healthy lifestyle choices. I may never be that young model-esque girl I once was. However, this body has been faithful to me, and has many a story to tell.
Like a fine wine, she gets better with age. Even if her refined and somewhat restructured taste isn’t for everyone. She knows that those who appreciate her are indeed her very tribe. That grain of truth is worthy of a few extra pounds.