By March (surprise!)
When I got married back during the Jurassic matrimonial period, I had a strong case of premarital jitters. I kept dropping weight – to the point that if I wanted my wedding dress to stay up during the ceremony I needed to eat more. I look back on those days with a sense of wonder – my pert face, my glossy dark hair, my tiny waist. Every day I looked in the mirror and thought, yes, doll, you really are gorgeous – no, no I didn’t. You know I didn’t. I compared myself to Hollywood starlets my age and prettier girls – girls who were Ginger to my Mary Ann – and felt nothing but disappointment.
By my early 40s I had four kids, including a set of twins. There was a period where we kept getting this nasty stomach bug over and over. So my weight slid down again, and man, was I proud of my 40-something fabulousness. No, no I wasn’t. I was tired and I had baggy eyes and baggy pants and felt flabby, and why didn’t I get it together and go to the gym more often like all the buff moms around me?
Now I’m 51. A couple years ago things got seriously off-kilter, followed by a brutal divorce. I kept my sanity, my sense of humor, and, oh, about 30 extra pounds, of which I’ve lost 20. I think most of the extra dough has adhered stubbornly and predictably to my middle. I’m not really an apple shape – more a croissant, after a lifetime of being a breadstick.
I started hitting the gym regularly a couple of months ago, addressing how soft and out of shape I’d gotten. And it’s been great – I’m getting some muscle definition back, my cardio is much better, etc. I’m also eating super-healthy, with lots of greens, not too much carbo-loading, quasi-vegetarian. I got on the scale the other day and … had not lost a pound.
So I stomped around in a rage for a day or two. Seriously? Not one measly pound? I glared at myself in the gym mirror in the midst of doing curls or whatever and thought, yeah, you go, dough-girl. And then I got even madder.
Let’s take my 92-year-old father who, until he took a fall this summer, was still chugging along happily alone in the house I grew up in. He came home from the rehab facility more or less wheelchair-bound, with a full time caregiver and a lot less freedom and mobility than he had before. He was miserable; he wanted out; my sister and I were grieving even as we understood how he felt. And then one day a couple weeks ago he woke up and decided he wanted to live. I took him down to the National Gallery of Art – in his wheelchair – to see the Andrew Wyeth show before it closes. He stopped apologizing for my having to push him around when I pointed out that I was getting a nice, steady workout from doing so. We’ve been going to the NGA together from the time I was so small I held his hand to cross the street, and man, was I grateful to be there with him again.
I know people – you know people – who are staring into the face of their own mortality right now. People who are a lot younger than 92. People who thought, reasonably enough, they had decades of time left here on Earth. I know people who’ve been through tragedies that make my drama look like a bad day at the office. I can rattle off ten people who are really deep in the sh!t right now. Tangentially, I’ve been thinking about an article I read recently, one of those vaguely Debbie-Downer pieces written by a hospice nurse on end-of-life regrets. The big one she talked about was how people wished they’d appreciated their health and physical selves more – the lumpy, disappointing bodies they used to have, while those bodies were still serving them reasonably well, before everything went off the rails.
So I’m calling for a moratorium right here before the holidays, and I invite you to join in. I’m calling bullsh!t on the 30 years I’ve spent as an adult wishing I were taller, sexier, thinner, stronger, whatever. My body’s getting creaky, but hey, I got out of bed this morning and used the toilet unassisted, and I’m typing this myself, and I can see the keyboard, and if I want to I can throw on a jacket and take the dog for a walk.
I’m going to lose those last ten pounds of insanity. I’m going to feed my body good food in reasonable amounts, and I’m going to give it some exercise and some TLC and the occasional shave and some fine fragrance (e.g., this stuff that smells like ballsweat which I am wearing and loving right now). I shoved the scale in the closet because enough is enough. Let’s stop the madness, shall we?
Look at yourself in the mirror. Can you see well enough to do that? Can you stand in front of the mirror? Well, give yourself a hug and slap on some Amouage body lotion or whatever works for you, and know that you’re beautiful. You are beautiful just the way you are, today, right here. Lose that last 10 pounds of regret, that negative voice in your head that tells you you’re not X enough, you’ll never be X enough; tell it to scram, because you’re too busy living, right now, and nobody’s going to make you feel lesser-than. Nobody — including you. Especially you. Feel the weight of all that nonsense fall right off your shoulders and stand tall next to me.