Not for the faint of heart

I remember the day I turned 29.

It was 16 years ago – yikes, that’s hard to believe.

But the day I turned 29, I took the day off from work.

I worked out twice that day, hoping to fight off the effects of gravity and the aging process.

I didn’t even eat any birthday cake, something I never skipped.

I grieved.

It was my last year in my twenties.

I felt ancient, as if my youth and life were over.

I was about to enter a new decade, my thirties.

Little did I know those years would fly by in the blink of an eye.

I went through a divorce, got remarried, had a baby, moved a couple of times, and went through about 4 different career changes.

No wonder by the time I hit my 40’s I was exhausted.

My spunk and sass seemed to have been replaced with, “Eh, it’s not worth the energy fighting over.”

Blasphemous talk for one who is a quarter Irish.

“Cole, when I was younger, I would have….”
I recount tales of my younger hot-tempered responses and how I stood up fiercely for myself and for others.

Now, I just hope to avoid any disagreements, so I don’t have to worry about it for days on end.

The aging process has not only affected my emotional response but my physical as well.

Remember when Dolly Parton declared, “Time’s marching on, and eventually you realize, it’s marching across your face?”

Yeah, well, Truvy got that one right.

She just left out the battlefield extended in all directions.

The other day in the bathroom, I saw not one, not two, but four grey hairs sticking up from the midst of a field of black, dark brown, and whatever other colors are mixed in there.

I screamed.

These had popped up overnight.

The greys could and would be covered with some liberal painting of color at my next appointment.

An easy fix, I told myself.

But some of the other things were not so easy.

For one thing, the few pounds I would gain from too much cheesecake no longer come off as quickly as they previously did.

Just five short years ago, I could just skip my afternoon bag of M&M’s and drop whatever weight I had gained.

Now, I am still struggling to lose the weight I gained three years ago.

“Once you are over 40, you will find it’s not so easy to lose that weight,” Mama informed me one day.

I told her I was already learning that.

“So, you may want to lay off the cheesecake. And the candy. I know you think they are their own food group.”

I groaned my disapproval of her advice.

“Your body is going through some changes now that you may not like and may be embarrassing, so you need to pay attention to what you eat and do.”
I was in my mid-40’s and finally, my Mama was giving me the talk about my changing body.

And as much as I hate to admit it, she was right.

“I have cut out everything that tastes good and you want to know how much I have lost?” I asked one day.

“How much?” a friend asked.

“I gained 2 pounds. Two pounds! And I think I pulled something trying to squeeze into my imitation Spanx.”

“Honey, how old are you now…?”

No response was necessary.

To add insult to injury, as if eating kale and gaining weight with multiple greys dotting my hairline were not enough, I had something else happen.

Adult acne.

As a teenager, I somehow dodged a bullet and had clear skin.

Maybe Mother Nature thought I had enough going against me and told pimples to find another canvas to land.

But here I was, trying to figure out which cream, gel or serum to apply first: wrinkle cream, lifting cream, brightening gel, or acne treatment. And vitamin C treatment. Did you know you face needs vitamins, too? It does.

“Maybe you put too much gunk on your face? Could that be it?” Lamar asked, watching me slather various things on my face one morning.

“Given the fact that middle aged women seem to blame everything on our hormones, that’s mighty brave talk for a skinny man to use,” I warned.

He got the hint and went into hiding until later that day.

But the real kicker was even more painful than the esthetic issues I was experiencing.

“It’s going to rain today,” I announced one morning.

“Weatherman on TV said it is going to be clear,” Lamar said over his coffee.

“I don’t care what they said, it’s going to rain; maybe snow.”

“What makes you think that?” Lamar asked.
“The way my neck is hurting, it is going to do something. Trust me. I may not have Doppler, but I have a neck that lets me know.”
“Good lord, you are not old enough to start sounding like Granny.”

Guess what?

Around 3 p.m. that afternoon, it started sleeting.

“Told you,” I said. “My neck knows.”

This getting older thing is not for the faint of heart.

But, it sure beats the alternative.

 

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The first ever non-diet resolution (1/6/2016)

This is maybe the first ever time I have not started the New Year with some grand resolution of losing at least 10 pounds.

It’s not because I didn’t really make “resolutions” this year, but because I discovered the other definition of resolution was “contentious matter” and that’s what they seemed like to me.

No, I decided I wasn’t going to mention a diet at all this year.

Do I need to lose weight?

Oh, my thighs yes –I need to lose weight.

I always think I need to lose weight, even when I didn’t but this time, I did.

But this year, I wanted to be more mindful in attacking the objective instead of just writing at the top of a list “Lose weight.”

I wanted to figure out why I had gained weight to begin with.

There’s some behavior involved that if I don’t deal with it, will only keep recurring.

I knew my behaviors too well.

I am an emotional eater, which means if I am happy I eat; if I am sad, I eat; if I am nervous, I eat. Whatever the emotion – I eat. It’s much better than addressing the real cause behind the emotion, at least temporarily.

Add to that food allergies/intolerances and sensitivities and I have a perfect storm to be chubby.

I can eat something and blow up like a puffer fish.

I know this and I eat a piece of cheesecake anyway.

Then I spend days in agonizing pain, angry at myself for eating something I shouldn’t anyway.

Focusing on a diet that promises I will lose 10 pounds in two weeks is not going to help me.

“I don’t think you need to lose weight,” Mama said on New Year’s Day.

“Mama, the only female in this house who likes being chubby is Doodle,” was my reply. It was true. The pittie mix was proud of her curves. As a matter of fact, I need to get some of Doodle’s attitude. “I am going to get back to my normal weight but I am not setting it as a resolution. If I do I’ll give up by the third week of January along with everyone else.”
And then, when Valentine’s Day hits, I will just pig out on candy in red foil hearts because hey, I had already failed at my resolution, so I may as well eat 37 pieces of chocolate.

So this year, instead of trying to do some crazy crash diet and getting mad at myself because I broke down and had a spoon of Nutella at 10 a.m., I am going to be mindful.

I am going to listen to my body and myself – if I am eating out of an emotional response, what is the emotion?

I will be mindful in how I feel and respond to those feelings.

What do I need to deal with?

Is there a better way I can process the issue besides eating?

None of the stuff I know I can’t have, either.

My health needs to be a priority. Pain can be well, crippling. I have hurt so badly I could barely move. It’s not fun. My husband will tell me if something hurt him that bad, he wouldn’t eat it; I tell him I wish it were that easy. It’s not.

Probably most importantly, I am also going to stop hating myself.

Instead of beating myself up when I do need a spoon of Nutella – who doesn’t? – I will process it and move on.

I am not going to associate guilt and shame with food any more.

I’ve done it long enough and it’s probably a huge part of the problem.

So no more of that nonsense.

If I eat a piece of cheesecake knowing I will hurt for three days and be puffy, I am just going to eat the dang cheesecake.

Even more so, I am going to enjoy it.

Nope, I told everyone, I was not going to list ‘lose weight’ as my resolution this year.

Instead, I am going to take control of this whole torment with food once and for all.

It’s one resolution I can stick to.

 

They shoot fat people, don’t they? (3/11/2015)

It must be open season on people who are overweight.

Last week, a lady named Katie Hopkins publically called Kelly Clarkson fat.

I had never heard of this Hopkins person before, but after Googling, I found out she is a British journalist whose claim to fame is making offensive comments about other celebrities.

One site called her a “professional troll,” and another hailed her the “Most Hated Woman in Britain” – titles earned by her comments like saying Kelly Clarkson must have ate her backup singers, and that with an 8-month old baby, that wasn’t baby weight but “carrot cake weight.”

Kelly handled the situation with her typical spunk, saying the reason the woman was so hateful was because she didn’t know Clarkson.

“I’m awesome!” Clarkson said in an interview, responding to the comments. “It doesn’t bother me. It’s a free world. Say what you will. I’ve just never cared what people think. It’s more if I’m happy and I’m confident and feeling good, that’s always been my thing. And more so now, since having a family-I don’t seek out any other acceptance.”

Her response was a lot classier than mine would have been.

When our looks are attacked, our typical response is to retaliate with something more vitriolic and hateful towards the accuser than what was slung at us.

Someone calls us fat, we sling back they are ugly.

The body-shaming doesn’t just apply to women, either.

A man, known as #DancingMan was made fun of for dancing.

Why? Because he was overweight.

He was having a good time, dancing, enjoying his life and some bullies made fun of him to the point he stopped.

Thankfully, a group of women saw it and are putting together a huge party so the man can come dance as much as he wants, free from shame.

It’s sad that the only progress we’ve made in the last 20 plus years is that fat-shaming now includes men.

My first exposure to it in the media was the episode of “Designing Women.”

“They Shoot Fat Women, Don’t They?,” when Suzanne went to her high school reunion and was mocked for being heavier than she was before.

She tells her sister, Julia, if you are fat, it’s like you don’t matter anymore, especially if you are a female. People are sympathetic towards everything else -unless you are fat, and then you are supposed to be ashamed.

I completely relate because after Granny died, I was depressed.

Horribly depressed – I never thought the old gal would die and when she did, none of us expected it.

We had at least two or three good fights left in us that needed to be had. But we didn’t.

And like Granny, I wasn’t going to talk about it or cry over it. No, I ate.

I ate stuff that I was severely allergic to, not supposed to have, and things that hurt me. But biscuits with butter and jelly reminded me of her – they weren’t as good as hers, but they reminded me of her.

The smell of them baking to a golden brown made me flash back to sitting in the kitchen with her, or her making biscuits on Sunday after church to go with her fried chicken.

I smeared my emotions with plenty of raspberry jelly and choked them down.

And immediately realized people treated me differently.

I was fluffy, a little bit chubby. I wasn’t as thin as I had been a year ago.

I felt horrible, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

People were judging me, and delighting, I am sure, in the fact I was a chubbykin.

I don’t want to go anywhere or see anyone – because I am that ashamed.

“People don’t care if you’ve gained weight or not. People don’t care about that. You’re being silly,” Lamar, my bone-thin cyclist husband will tell me.

No, I am not.

As long as there are people who think it’s OK to tweet, comment and bash about a person’s weight, people care.

Maybe care is not the right word.

Maybe it should be a word that doesn’t imply any sort of compassion, because that is not the motive.

I worked with a gorgeous woman once – she still is.

She was not skinny, but she never claimed to be and it didn’t matter.

She was larger than life, had one of the most loving hearts in the world, and was really, stunningly gorgeous with her blonde hair and huge brown eyes.

We were at work one day and a lady approached her and said: “Oh…girl. You’ve done and gone and gained all that weight back you lost. What were you thinking?”

My friend looked up and replied: “I may be fat but I can lose weight; you can’t lose ugly.”

Her response – while given in the heat of the moment – made me wonder.

Why do our looks have to have that influence, that control over us? Aren’t we more than our outer appearance?

What if, instead of seeing someone for their weight, the way they look, we saw their spirits and saw them for their contributions in the world? Wouldn’t that make the world a better place? And not just for women, but men as well.

If we stopped focusing on those petty, catty, superficial issues, I bet a lot of things would miraculously change, too.

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/16169/