One morning last week my seventeen-year-old daughter, Holland sat on my bed chatting with me as I dressed for the day. I checked myself in the mirror as usual, but this time I grabbed a bit more than an inch of love handles. Holland was watching and upon seeing the disgusted look on my face she tried to comfort me by saying, "Don't worry, Mom. That's not fat, that's just from being old." I digested her comment for a moment and decided to leave it alone except when I bent over to tie my shoes I realized it was not tight joints that prevented me from reaching my laces, but pants that had become too tight. Holland then clued me in on a fashion trick, “If you wear your pants lower on your hips, your bottom will look smaller.” Until that moment I wasn’t aware that I was bottom heavy. Nevertheless, I tried her suggestion and it is true, my derričre diminished, but in the end, my belly, now having nothing to restrain it, burst out the top of my lowered jeans and escaped over my waistband like crčme oozes out of a Whoopee Pie. I immediately went back to the mirror and found that it doesn’t have two faces, but to my horror it sure has a double chin! I’ve gained weight! Somehow, with out my realizing it, my middle snuck up from behind and now defines not just my age, but my problem area.
Isn’t it strange how quickly weight gains control, yet goes unnoticed, but the truth takes its time- and then is merciless in its nakedness?
These incidents made me realize there comes a time in our lives when we have to admit certain things. For me, the time is now and the thing that needs admitting is me- into a fat farm.
So, I declined the rolls served at Thanksgiving, claiming I already have some, and then I allowed the bowl of stuffing to pass me by, visualizing myself stuffed into my jeans. I vowed to eat only fruits and vegetables until my bottom looked more like a melon and less like of a bag of onions and to exercise with weights to lose my new found poundage.
My diet and determination lasted until dessert. I reasoned that apples are not a forbidden fruit; quite the contrary- they are good for you, better if crisped, especially when topped with three scoops of French Vanilla ice cream because, after all, middle age rationalizers need extra rations of calcium.
I know how I had gained the added weight: I was less active so there was more of me. I also knew I had to do something and because dieting didn’t work out, I decided to try a workout. Abdominal exercises seemed the most logical, but I worried I wouldn’t be able to get back up off the floor once down there. I could imagine being forced to roll around from room to room and pictured myself at lunch time in front of the refrigerator able to reach only the food stored on the lowest shelf. Since that is where the pumpkin and banana bread is kept I’d be back to loafing.
Then reality hit me like a ton of brick cheese… “Hold on to your bigger britches” I thought to myself. “You may have gained some weight, but you are hardly obese. You are not unhealthy; you are just carrying an extra ten pounds. You use to carry an extra twenty pounds on your hips back in those days before your babies could walk, so you have actually lost weight! You don’t necessarily need to be lighter; you need to be lighter on yourself.”
It’s natural that the Gaps- jeans and generations- should widen. It’s normal to grow older and wider, not just older and wiser. I’d like to see a grassroots movement called ‘Have the Guts to Love your Gut’ take root. Okay, maybe ‘love’ is too weighty a word, but we should change our attitudes along with our pant size and broaden our idea of a beautiful body to include those with a little more to love. With the holidays upon us we should all have the wisdom to accept not only our Thanksgiving thighs, our Christmas pork and our Easter buns, but to forget that which is behind us and around us and look forward to the future even though it may be wrought with curves.
L.E. Hughes is a columnist, writer and owner of Diamond Corner B&B in Stratton, Maine. She welcomes your thoughts and comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.© November 2005 Lew-Ellyn Hughes. All Rights Reserved and Retained by the Author.