It’s My Body and I’ll Cry if I Want To

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.

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9 responses to “It’s My Body and I’ll Cry if I Want To

  1. I too have more sag to my upper arms and what is possibly cellulite on my legs. It is sad. But I am okay dealing with that if at least I am not gettting larger all over. We will be in Waco later this weekend if you still have any shopping cash. 🙂

  2. sorry…it’s been 7 years for us and we’re still fighting the what seems to be a losing battle…but the new year comes and so do the resolutions! make ’em and brake ’em baby.

  3. What a sad post…because it’s true for all of us! 😦 We’re starting to realize that the peak of our health was a couple years ago. A good run every other day used to be all I needed. Now it’s some sort of exercise every day (which I still don’t do enough of), and eating healthier. Eating healthy is not all it’s cracked up to be. I read the books that say, “I felt so good, and the vegetables tasted so fresh, that I never wanted another hamburger!” Well, hamburgers, maybe, but you’ll never hear anyone saying that about a cheese enchilada.

    So no, we’re not moving two sizes up, but it’s just the fact that we’re moving up at all that’s sad. And that every time I have a cheese enchilada, I feel a slight twinge of guilt. I hate having to think about what I’m eating.

    Ooh! I just thought of the solution! Move to France! The French are in very good health, and they eat whatever they want!

  4. South Beach doesn’t work? Do you mean you didn’t lose weight on it or you didn’t like their food?

    The only way I was able to survive dieting was by letting myself have one cheat meal a week. Every other meal was healthy and if it wasn’t, I couldn’t have my cheat meal. A cheat meal was often a time out with friends or a night at a friend’s house when I wasn’t sure what would be on the menu. It kept me looking forward to those cheat meals and motivated to stay on track with the rest of my meals.

    I’m right there with ya, sister. Feeling the pudge, dreading the resolution to eat better. Guess we’ll be having healthy snacks at Life Group?

  5. The only “diet” Sheldon and I have ever stuck with was Weight Watchers. The reason is because, like Karen said, you can have “cheat meals.” And you can still eat whatever you want, just in moderation. You also get points back if you exercise, which means more food!

    We’re still technically on WW, but we haven’t been to a meeting in about a month. It’s still do-able without the meetings, as long as you have support. I can give you the info about it if you want to try it.

  6. I’m glad to hear that I am not alone!

    The French solution is portion control, right? Isn’t that what the book says? If I remember correctly…we are supposed to savor each bite and NEVER eat on the run. Then you eat less and enjoy more. But I think people walk their feet off in France, too. That might have something to do with it.

  7. I wish we lived somewhere where we could walk everywhere. Of course, I guess it’s a bummer on days like today. But seriously… I wouldn’t mind the subway ride, either. Listen to my ipod or read, not have to drive. If I lived in a big city, I’d probably not want to drive in it anyway!

  8. @Lindsey: You’re right. The French have 1) portion control, 2) big meal at lunch instead of dinner, 3) long meals (no cramming), and 4) lots of walking. Basically slow down and forgo driving, two things that aren’t options for a teacher with a 20 minute lunch break. Maybe figure out how to get your conference period right after lunch…. 🙂

  9. The New Employee 15… definitely some merit to that. When I started at my job, I worked in Gatesville, ate at greasy spoon restaurants a lot, and of course, sat at a desk all day. I probably gained 20 pounds that first summer. (I was also slightly depressed because my friends were playing for the summer while I was working. Darn thing about graduating early.)

    The following year, I decided to diet and was able to get the 20 lbs. off. Since then, I’ve probably gained 10 of them back, so I’d like to get that off again this year. My pants still fit, but quite snugly.

    I am typing this while I’m eating a piece of peanut butter fudge. Guess that’ll have to change. 😦

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