For the past 25 years or so, I’ve been a nice comfortable weight in my 5’2” frame. It hasn’t been terribly hard to maintain my 110-115 pounds either – I could eat or drink pretty much whatever I wanted, and my weight hovered right where I liked it. I think most of my friends secretly hated this about me, and I was quite proud of whatever metabolic angels were keeping my bathroom scale tipping in the proper place. Then, the boom was lowered – the midlife, middle-aged, menopausal boom. Suddenly, I have little rolls of fat developing around my waist, my inner thighs, and even my back! My middle thickens daily, and my hips seem to spread like a wad of playdough that some demon keeps mashing into a wider and wider shape.
Worst of all, I can’t seem to do anything about it. I’ve been bike riding, walking, lifting weights, and screaming in frustration – those extra pounds just won’t budge. While becoming increasingly angry at this lack of control over my body, I recognize that it may mask a deeper pain - the anger and helplessness I feel about growing older. The inexorable passage of time is likely to take its toll on more than just my waistline – could my mind be the next thing swept up in its destructive path?
I have friends who tell me that once a woman passes 50, she develops a real “thumb your nose” attitude toward the conventions of society. She won’t care about her looks, or whether people like her, or if she’s good at what she does. But I still feel like I’m 25 and have worlds to conquer, and I can’t conquer them if my pants are too tight! If I give up on my appearance, maybe I’ll no longer care about the other things that are important to me, like relationships, music, and writing.
I remember my mother once talking about a friend of hers who had gained some weight, stopped coloring her hair, and taken up smoking. “She certainly let herself go,” my mom remarked sadly. So apparently it is possible to rein in the effects of the aging process, by making a concerted effort to hang onto those things that make us the best that we can be, whatever our chronological age. Certainly that’s a lot more than appearance – it’s remaining passionate and involved with people, being willing to try new things, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and staying committed to the activities and interests that we’ve enjoyed so far. But oftentimes, looking good is the first step in feeling energized and excited about yourself and your life.
So, I’m resolving to work out harder, cut out snacks, and drink more water and less wine. Maybe I’ll sign up for class in conversational Japanese, or finally take up photography, and exercise my mental muscles as well as my physical ones. Because, you know what? I’m not done with feeling good about my mind or my body!