I took my gift cash shopping on the day after Christmas, and in about the third dressing room, I came to a sobering conclusion: I do not have the body I had when I was twenty-one. I have a picture on my bulletin board of my sister and I on our boat one summer. I look very firm and trim in my swimsuit top and shorts, and it reminds me of what I used to be. As I studied myself between outfits in the poor light of the Aeropostale clothes closets, I conclude that firm and trim are no longer the first adjectives that come to mind. I’m a little squishier around the middle, definitely less defined in the upper arms, and I am pretty sure I have cellulite on my thighs. To be young again!
I anticipate two responses to my lament:
1. “You are still not a large size, so quit complaining.”
2. “Twenty-one was not so far away! Wait until you are 40 and then you’ll know what it means to pine after the body of your youth.”
To both of these, I say, “I KNOW!” The changes I have noticed so far have not been dramatic, but they have been steady. Innocent bystanders wouldn’t notice, probably, because my frame hasn’t actually changed shape (yet). It’s just a little thicker and squishier all around. Now this is a bad thing precisely because twenty-one was only three short years ago. In three years, I have kept the same habits, have had a clean bill of health, taken the same sorts of medications, and I have not been pregnant. In other words, there is no good reason for an increase in weight and squishiness.
I attended a sprawling university where walking was a necessity of life. Although I had very irresponsible workout habits in college, I burned a lot of calories just walking from one class/Coke machine to another. I had been warned that graduating to a sedentary desk job would be bad for the waistline. This would have been true for me, except that my first job after graduation was a stressful, exhausting horror that sapped me of all appetite. However, after that year was over, I quit that job, got married, and found a job that was fun and satisfying. Good-bye stress, hello pudge. It is my theory that I am just now experiencing the “New Employee 15” at the exact time that my body is hitting its mid-twenties metabolic slump.
Now, in the timeless words of Mr. Bennet, two unhappy alternatives are before me: I can either resign myself to unrelenting physical expansion, which will only accelerate as I enter into my baby-bearing phase, or I can start changing my habits, which means less ice cream and more aerobic activity.
I’ll tell you what doesn’t work, and that is the South Beach Diet. Other than that, I’m interested in ideas of how to avoid either of my “unhappy alternatives.” Healthy food that tastes delicious…Exercise options that don’t involve sweating or exposure to the elements…Magical pills that develop muscle definition as I sit at the computer…I’m open to suggestions.