Those Last Ten Pounds

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Bunny Yeager, Self Portrait with Mirror, 1960.

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.

 

  • carole says:

    Well said, for sure!

    My mother had a twenty year battle with illness, and had huge trouble getting nutrition to work for her. I do not have that issue at all-she would look at me in wonder, asking how I did it. So no more beating one’s self up about numbers on a scale-be happy and proud of your strength, eat your vegetables, and keep writing (please!). Also, you smell awesome 🙂

  • Flora says:

    Yes, a thousand times YES! I have spent a lifetime fighting a weight problem, but at some point I just decided that I had to like ME just the way I am because there is very little chance that I will ever be “skinny” not that I want to be – I just want to feel good, be strong and have the energy to live my life the way I want to. Getting to the “I don’t care what they think” age helped a lot, but it would be great if younger people, especially women, could get to that place a lot sooner.

  • Jennifer smith says:

    Never let numbers rule you. Whether it be on a scale or a “size tag”. I do keep bathroom scales though – not to get all judgemental about my weight gains or losses but to do the weigh myself ; weigh myself and pet; subtract and know how much meds pet should get .( de wormer) also possible to get a ballpark for package mailing.

  • navabrahe says:

    Amen, March! It’s a shame it takes the horrible shit in life to get us to think this way, but when we get there, it is so liberating. Every day above ground is a good day; the flab and the creaks are just an inconsequential part of the journey.

  • Tiffanie says:

    I had the “body-shaming” talk with my two teen-agers (male and female) today. We were in the car and the “plus-size model” debate was on the radio. Bottom line from me as a mom to my children and to myself is be healthy in body and mind, whatever that means to you!

    So this holiday season, please enjoy the pumpkin pie, then smile while taking a walk around the block with someone you love.

  • odonata9 says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I agree with and relate to everything. I’m 41 and several of my friends have or had cancer. How are people my age dying? So yes, appreciate your bodies. And don’t let stupid numbers rule your life. It is all about how you feel and being healthy. For so so long, I would pine for my younger skinnier body (which I did not appreciate at the time and was critical of, of course). I have boxes of clothes stored away that are too small that one day I’m going to fit back into. After giving birth to twins last year, I realized that really isn’t going to happen. And that is OK. I made it back into my pre-pregnancy clothes (though I still wear some of my maternity pants – they are comfy and I need to get my money’s worth!). Women are under so much scrutiny for their physical appearance, it’s sad how much pressure we feel to always look better, to reach some unobtainable level of whatever. And when we get there, there is always something else.

    It’s so nice to hear from you. We all miss you around here!

  • Cait says:

    I wuv you, March.

  • March, you have been sorely missed. This was such a terrific reminder for all of us who growl at the mirror if our pants seem tight across the butt, or our arms don’t look like Michelle Obama’s. Thanks for the wake-up call. I’ve stopped slavishly stepping on the scale every morning because when I don’t like what it says, it ruins my day. So I stopped doing that and I’m much less grumpy now. 😉 Hope you don’t stay away too long. Your gift should be shared!!

  • Brava! Well said, and yes, I’m with you 😀

  • Neva says:

    I love the expression “the last ten pounds of…regret”!!! Why, oh why do we have to grow mature (I’m almost 51 😉 to know what to appreciate in this life???
    Totally agree with you and I’m on my way to apply some Amouage body lotion and enjoy this day 🙂
    Big hugs!

  • shylotus says:

    Oh March, what a wonderful post. I went through years what you just described until found out that I had a serious debilitating genetic & degenerative anemia. I thought about all that time I wasted wishing I “looked” better and thinner and .. and… Now I pat my not-so-firm arms and legs, and yes, belly, and say “thank you little engine…thank you for chugging along and keeping going…”
    Thank you. xo

    • Gwenyth says:

      shylotus – I LOVE your comment about patting the body from time to time and mentally saying “Thank You”. Life is a gift and we should acknowledge it on a regular basis.

  • Kandice says:

    Thanks so much for the reminder. We are all too hard on ourselves. Having aging parents myself I agree it means the world to have bodies that still function with (some) ease no matter what they look like. Thanks for reminding us to stand tall 🙂

  • Nemo says:

    Thank you for this! Thank you so much.

  • Lynne says:

    I wish there was a big ole like button for this story! It resonates with me,,,and I’m a lot older and should know better. lol I grew to l?o?v?e? tolerate the 20+ of baby fat. (hey he’s almost 30) Geez! Losing the insanity makes much more sense.

  • minette says:

    extra nice to hear from you again, march. i’ve missed you. i think that as soon as we forgive ourselves and learn to love everything about ourselves, including our shadow parts, everything begins to shift for the better, including our weight. and you’re so right about being grateful for what we have now. not taking those “little” things for granted is important. am still working on all of this, of course, but the ship is turning.

    cheers,
    minette

  • Gwenyth says:

    Hello March! Years ago, when I first discovered the world of online Perfumistas, I stumbled across Perfumeposse and your writing and I was HOOKED! I looked forward to all your written commentaries/reviews because you are an incredibly talented writer. You have the ability to very effectively use wit, intelligence, pathos and craziness to make your points. I LOVE reading your words. I have missed you sorely…..

    I’m so very sorry for the trauma in your life – but you have survived and survived well, right? I’m very happy to read your words today.

    You are Correct! I applaud what you have written and I agree wholeheartedly.

    I’m well over 50, but I still look pretty good. (that is what The Hubs says, and it is enough for me). Just last week, an attractive man with whom I work let me know he thinks I am attractive and desirable. I’m not going to do anything about it, but it’s kinda cool to know someone other than my husband of 38 years thinks I’ve still got it. Wow! That put a spring in my step. 🙂

    I make an effort to eat healthy food, I take care of my health, I exercise regularly, and I take time to acknowledge I have a good life.

  • maggiecat says:

    I love this piece, and I needed it badly. Let’s lose the insanity! And gain some perfume!

  • Eloquaint says:

    My best friend sent me this the other day:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PCkvCPvDXk

    I’ve had to invent time travel in order to listen to it enough in the last 48 hours.

  • eisof says:

    best advice i have heard since, “Remember you are G-d and act accordingly.” thankyou for your hard won wisdom!!

  • teri says:

    I’m tall, gangly, and have a horsey face and huge feet. Pretty, I’ve never been, although I spent too many useless years yearning to be.

    Somewhere around age 55 (I’m 60 now), I managed to give myself permission to be who I am and to be not only satisfied with it, but proud of it. The relief was tremendous. No one else was putting that pressure on me. I was the one putting it on myself.

    That isn’t to say I’ve become a slob, but if things aren’t perfect, I no longer feel embarassed by the fact. I allow myself to be fallible.

    I think, as women, in our fervor to be all things to all people – super mom, super wife, super employee – we lost the ability to accept ourselves as who we were – exceptional wonderful people in every way.

    Although I’ve never seen you, March, you are a lovely woman. I know this because I’ve gotten to know your ‘voice’ through your writings over the years. If you lose that last 10 pounds, that’s amazing. But if you don’t, you’re still lovely, just as you are.

    Wonderful to hear from you again. It absolutely made my day.

  • latanya says:

    I enjoyed reading your post.

  • Ashley A says:

    Thank-you so much for posting this. It was so moving a spot-on. It hit me at a really good time and I am so appreciative to get to wake up to this today!

  • Nina Z says:

    This is so beautiful, March! I’ve always said that you are a brilliant writer, and I hope that one day when you have time, you’ll write a book or something. Meanwhile, I’m going to share this with my yoga followers. Because appreciating how your body feels and what it is capable of (rather than how it looks) and cultivating gratitude for your aliveness is the approach I’ve been encouraging my readers to take in their yoga practice. (I have that extra 10 pounds, too. I think it is a natural part of the aging process. When I find myself minding it, I just tell myself that I don’t have time for that. I’ve got people to love, and walks to take, and writing to write, and yoga to practice—my life to life, most gratefully.

  • Divalano says:

    Yay, rah, hoorah! *confetti, streamers, noisemakers, glitter. more glitter. lots of glitter* YES, this. I have no idea what the other comments are yet because you made me cry, which, sitting in my office at work is probably not entirely the best thing but, there you go.

    HOORAY, and yes. And btw, I don’t own a scale & haven’t for decades. They’re lying liars. They tell us stupid crap. Either I’m strong, flexible & in shape, able to breath my way up the subway stairs, or I’m not. And if I’m not, I can do the best I can given my age & ability. The rest is acceptance & celebration of what I *do* have.

    Hey! I haven’t commented here in so long I think I forgot whether I used to go by Divalano … Yeah, I did … Right. Hi everyone 🙂

    • March says:

      The scale determined my mood for the day, and that is seriously effed up. Yes, I want to live and enjoy today, with gratitude for everything I have. xo

  • tammy says:

    How absolutely WONDERFUL to “see” you again, and with such a fantastic message!

    I caught a virus in 2010 which left me unable to walk for two years. I’ve never taken the gift of walking or my health for granted since.

    I look at pictures when I was in high school and in my early 20s, and remember how I agonized over my weight; I felt like I was morbidly obese. I’m 5′ 8″ and weighed 118 lbs in high school! Why are we so insanely hard on ourselves? You really ought to submit this post for publication somewhere. Everyone needs to hear it.

    SO glad to know you are doing well, and I hope Hecate and Buckethead, et al are thriving, too!

    • March says:

      Oh goodness with your self image when younger. Wouldn’t it be great if we could appreciate whatever body we’re in? Hecate and Buckethead are 12 and wonderful and quirky and annoyingly hormonal.

  • Carol S says:

    Oh March I have missed you so VERrrrrrrY much! This piece was wunnnerful fabulous and EN POINTE .

  • Holly F. says:

    Amen. Perfectly said, and seriously inspiring. Enjoy every damn flawed moment in these bodies, and don’t wait until tomorrow. We only have today. Thank you for putting it so beautifully, and void of BS. xo

  • Vanie says:

    Touching and inspiring! Thank you, I now feel more ready to tackle the day.

  • Thank you, March! And it is wonderful to be reading you again. Big hugs: [[[[]]]] and a rose for you! @>–‘–

    • Illdone says:

      We Want March Back!! We want March back!! We want March back…x100
      Seriously girl, stop hidding start writting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      xx.

      • March says:

        I write ALL THE TIME. But writing’s a weird creature. I struggle about sharing it. Again with the inner critic.

        • Illdone says:

          I’m not a literary critic but I know one thing : if you read a text and it seems to flow effortlessly you know the writter is talented. Talking about you ofcourse!

          You don’t have to write a book to please me but could you make more surprise visits at the Posse?
          I missed your voice &opinions very much.

  • Jackie b says:

    Thank you. And yes, let’s not wait till we’re 104 to realise that we need to appreciate our own self, wherever we are at!

  • Ann says:

    Amen, sister March, amen!! Reading your column this a.m. my neck is hurting from all the nodding I’m doing 🙂 I have way more than 10 pounds to get rid of, but thank you so much for the reminder to appreciate all the things I CAN do in this body. Sending you much love and big hugs!

  • Spiker says:

    Thank you. I needed this this morning.

  • AllGirlMafia says:

    Perfect, this was absolutely perfect. Thank you for sharing your personal story and for encouraging all of us to find strength in our own. I needed this today.

  • Kathryn says:

    Amen.

    So good to be reading you again, March. In your inventory of qualities to appreciate about yourself, please add wit, grace, and your talent for telling it like it is.

    • March says:

      Aw. *blushes* I am hugely self-critical. I hold myself to standards I’d never inflict on other folks. But I’m working on silencing that inner critic.

  • lemoncake says:

    Wow…you made me laugh “you go dough-girl” (weighed myself this morning and my 10 pounds is still there)…and cry with your message that we need to be kind to ourselves. Great post…thank you!

  • Mrs. Honey says:

    It is so good to hear from you. I know what you mean about the last ten pounds.

  • Jamie says:

    Thank you – I so needed that.

    Great post.

  • bevfred says:

    I’m now 65 and proud of it. Love your life and live it well.
    Great post and YES!…perfume helps!

  • Dina C. says:

    What a great drill sergeant or life coach you make, March! The very best kind. As the mom of a teenaged daughter, I unconsciously compare myself to her adorableness all too often. Thanks for making me grateful for what functions today.

    • March says:

      Honey, I hear you. I have two gorgeous girls — 18 and 20 — and it makes me sad how critical they are of they way they look. I mean, even by stupid beauty standards they are gorgeous, and they can’t see it any more than I did at their age.

      • odonata9 says:

        This is what I worry about – I have 1 yo twin girls and the amount of pressure put on women by society (and ourselves) in terms of looks and body image is just astounding.

  • An important message for everyone! Cheers!

  • Portia says:

    Standing tall girl, right beside you. Proud and happy. Welcome to the new you.
    Portia xx

  • dinazad says:

    EXACTLY!

  • solanace says:

    Ditto! I am still using my pregnancy swimming suit, even though my girl is now almost two years old. But I’m happy, becuase I can swim and have fun at the beach! And heck, I love to eat, and as great as bananas are, I want more from life. Being a bit off the standards, I used to feel like a freak in my twenties. However, maybe because I felt so deeply bad, I overcame this nonsense rather quickly (attending a faculty course with seven girls in a class of seventy helped, too). Anyway, I certainly don’t miss my insecure, anxious to please everyone, needy young self, and really wish young women would listen to us and just have fun with their beauty and their youth!

  • audrey says:

    YES YES YES! I teach fitness classes and every single class I talk to people about body image. It’s not the number on the scale. It’s about your overall health and how you FEEL. At 43 I look and feel better than I did at 33, and I weigh at least 15 pounds more, but I’m so much healthier and stronger! I am so glad you posted this, keep spreading the word! (and, wear amazing perfume, because that also helps)

    • March says:

      I’m so glad to read this. Women really need this reminder.

    • odonata9 says:

      This really is it! Numbers don’t mean anything (unless you are needing to lose 100 pouds instead of 10). It’s all about being healthy and strong and feeling good. I would see pictures of myself in high school or college and wish i had that (much thinner) body agian, but I wasn’t happy with it then! I gave birth a year ago and was surprised that I’ve been able to go back to my pre-pregnancy clothes. That was enough of a win for me, so now I’m just trying to appreciate what I have.

  • Maya says:

    I’m not much of a joiner but this is one group I would be pleased to be a member of.

  • Lisa D says:

    51 right there along with you, baby, and loving the fact that I can run up and down the stairs in my house, can breathe without assistance, am in possession of all my faculties, and have a great perfume collection. Sure, my ass looks like I’m the matriarch of an elephant clan, but I try to not worry too much about it. I’ve got so much that’s good in my life – thanks for the reminder!

  • nebbe says:

    Yes! Love this. Needed this. Thank you. Much appreciated.

  • thegoddessrena says:

    So true. I became much more appreciative of being alive after having cancer a few years ago. I’m not skinny but I am loved and being loved makes me beautiful. Did I mention how much I love having a body and all the sensuous pleasures that come with it (including perfume)?

  • Jennie says:

    Hear hear, what fantastic sanity!