(Photo by Marek Rucinski on Unsplash)
Once upon a time, I would inhale, pat my tummy and coyly proclaim, “Oh, I need to lose some weight.” I was 23, with the metabolism of a 16-year-old, and not yet grown any babies. My skin was smooth, my complexion warm and sun-kissed, and I knew of eye creams only in passing.
Then I grew older, birthed and nursed two children, and discovered a rabid appetite for burritos. Exercise took a back seat; I kept adding yoga pants to my Amazon cart, and pretty soon, I was 10 pounds heavier. And honestly, I’ve always had a tumultuous relationship with my body. Some days I love my curves, my rounded face, and the stretch marks that line my hips. “Warrior mom!” I growl, feeling like a million bucks.
Other days, I glare at the cellulite and the dark circles and try to ignore the inevitable descent my breasts are making down my person.
But the last 12 months have upended my priorities. With the pandemic looming overhead, I stuck it out for a while — resisting carbs and sticking to a reasonable fitness schedule. But then summer hit, and we had moved well past the “two weeks, and everything should be back to normal” phase. A cozy despondency clung to me, and I quit trying. Pretty soon, I stopped stealing glances at the mirror and alternated between scrubs and generous leggings. I was now 20 pounds overweight, but since it didn’t show on my frame, I let it slide and shoved some more ice cream into my maw.
A couple of months ago, my knees decided they’d had enough. They conferred with my hip and ankle joints, and the following day, the three of them rebelled in painful synchrony. I gasped and winced every time I stood up, and by that evening, I had to make a choice. Lose weight or face the wrath of my skeletal system.
So I purchased greens. Walked the dog. Ate the greens. Grimaced and added some (sweet) dressing. Chose low-carb bread, gulped water when my tummy rumbled, and studiously ignored the siren song of mango ice cream. It wasn’t much, but it was a start. After a few days, it got easier to resist food (duh, amirite?) I snacked on nuts and fruit, enjoyed some healthy cheese, and even looked forward to my nightly bowl of salad. And while I still did not have a fitness routine, I’ve been doing this daily weird shuffling-running thing with the dog, and it seems to help.
I haven’t stepped on the weighing scale yet because I’m not obsessing about the number (well, maybe slightly). I’m trying to listen to my body, make sustainable choices, and not measure the journey in pounds lost. Lest you think I’ve gone holistic crunchy granola, let me assure you — I munched on some chocolate almonds yesterday and let out this audible gasp of joy. So food = happiness still holds true. There’s only so much I can evolve.
But for the first time, I don’t want to look younger (or older) than my 38 years. My knees don’t creak, my energy levels are up, and more often than not, I smile at myself in the mirror, feeling at peace with every blemish and spot. I even dug up a pair of high-waisted jeans yesterday and wore them to the grocery store (how am I not an influencer already?)
As I paid for my groceries, the seriously cute guy bagging them smiled at me. He offered to carry my bags out to the car, his eyes glinting merrily, but I shook my head. (I was old enough to be his mom. Well, if I’d had him at like 15, so more like an older cousin?) As I grabbed my bags and left the store, I felt eyes checking me out.
I should have been all “Gosh!” or maybe even turned around furiously and stared him down. But the sun was shining, my hair was bouncy, and those high-waisted jeans sat just right on my body.
And so shallow as it may sound, I thought to myself: “Yup, still got it.”