Tuesday, February 3, 2009


My trainer, who also happens to be one of my very best girlfriends, is getting frustrated because the longer we work out together, the fatter I get. Not that I’m fat, but I’ve got a belly. In all fairness to her, she is frustrated on my behalf, because she knows I’d like to have a nice, flat stomach. Apparently not as much as I’d like to have a muffin, however.

I’ve battled with this back and forth about food and weight my entire life and, ironically, I don’t think what I look like has shifted much in that time. I’m not one of those people who gains and loses a lot of weight, or who yo-yo diets. I’m a slightly thinner than average 40-year-old woman who has had a child.

I used to care a lot about how skinny I felt (note I didn’t say looked because who the hell knows how they really look, anyway?). But over the years, I’ve gradually cared less. A bottle of olive oil, which used to last years (really, years!) now needs to be replaced every couple months. I think part of the growing ambivalence comes with the wisdom and security that comes with age. What seems like a big deal when you’re 15 turns out to really just be a pimple when you’re 30.

Going to France was definitely the turning point. The quality of the food there was just so high that it seemed like an insult not to appreciate it properly. And now that I’m home, it’s that kind of eating that appeals to me. Not the mindless snacking or eating endless muffins (although I do make great muffins), but the appeal of fresh, home baked bread with good chèvre or this molé, which I plan to make soon.

I still want to look good, but mostly I want to be happy. I’ll keep exercising because I want to be strong and healthy for myself and my family, and because I enjoy my time with my trainer girlfriend. But I think the days of striving for no belly fat are long gone. And, honestly, I’m glad. Because enjoying good food and good wine with friends is one of the things that makes me happiest. About that I have no ambivalence.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Before i was 40, i'd gain a pound a year. No big deal. Didn't even think about it.

Now, i'd like to drop about 40 to 50 pounds. And i did drop 35 in 2002. It was my very first diet. And it wasn't a diet so much as caffeine (my favorite drug) was giving me arthritis, and i was getting my caffeine from Mt Dew at a rate of a half gallon a day. I switched to Sprite, but after a couple of weeks, i realized that i don't really like Sprite. It really took a couple weeks of half a gallon a day to come to this conclusion. So i switched to water, which i drank like a fish. It turns out that water has about 700 calories less than half a gallon of Mt Dew. It took 10 months, but my arthritis is gone with no permanent damage. But by 2004, i'd gained all the weight back, and an extra 10 pounds.

The thing is that i felt better. My exercise program is going great. I can do 25 pushups, 25 situps. Run about 4 miles in 8 minute miles. I'm doing upper body workouts i never used to do. And stretching. This one stretch has totally solved the problems my feet were having. And i don't need a trainer, i just get up and do some of it, and watch TV on the exercise bike (i got from the neighbor's trash) in the evening, about 2 hours before bed. I sleep great. I don't get colds all winter like i used to. But i felt better when i was 45 pounds lighter. And it's not lugging around the extra weight (though i can't imagine why not). I can still pick up my 75 pound (17') and toss it around.