Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Want not, waist not

And it's a long way down
It's a long way down
It's a long way
Down to the place where we started from.

I may have found something even more boring to talk about than selling/not selling my beads. My weight.

Well, really my shape, since I don't weigh myself.

I really miss my waist.

Except for the Freshman fifteen, I've been naturally slim for most of my life. Wait, I take that back. I got a little pudgy around second grade. Once my doctor pointed it out to my mom, she cut back on portions. One and a half sandwiches for lunch, not two. Dessert at dinner but not at lunch.

I was a skinny teenager. In college, dorm food and a fourth meal of pizza or subs late at night caused my weight to creep up. It took me until the end of the year to figure out that I wasn't shrinking my jeans every time I washed them.

I starved myself all summer and went back to college thin and anorexic. I continued to starve myself for a long time, with occasional binges. It took a few years for my relationship with food to normalize.

For many years after that, my size was not an issue. I gained about 25 pounds with each pregnancy, then lost them afterwards, fairly effortlessly.

I inherited my mom's healthy metabolism and also her discipline. My mom weighed herself every day and the minute she gained a few ounces, she dieted until she was back to her goal weight. Dieting for her meant a lot of cottage cheese and fruit, half portions, dessert only on weekends.

I know a lot about food, calories and carbs and fats and proteins, but I've never been on a diet, per se. My saving graces have been that I don't like to eat unless I'm hungry and, as a rule, I don't snack. I dislike feeling full and I prefer plain food to fancy. I eat very little meat, I avoid fried foods, I scrape butter on bread. I order salads with the dressing on the side instead of potatoes.

I love carbs. Whole grain breads, rice, pasta, bagels, tortillas, potatoes. Cake sure, cookies yes, pie, yum. I do have a sweet tooth and I crave sweets, especially in the evenings, but I'm reasonable about the portions I allow myself.

Lately lots of people tout some version of low-carb, gluten-free, and keto-type diets, and swear they have more energy, better complexions, fewer aches and pains. I just can't imagine life without breakfast cereal. And fruit. And ice cream.

For many years I went to some form of aerobics classes. I did Jazzercise in my 20s, until I had my first baby. Then for a long time I took lunchtime workout classes in my company's fitness center. When that fell by the wayside, I started walking on my lunch hour with work cohorts. It wasn't a real workout but it was something. It was enough to keep me fitting in my wardrobe at least.

After I retired and started spending my days making beads, my body mass started to expand. I still resisted the scale but I stopped fitting into my size 8s and 10s. Neil never criticized my appearance, but when I bewailed the fact that I felt as large as I was when I was 9 months pregnant, he made the comment that I was morbidly inactive.

And it was true. I had developed what is known in my field as "beadmakers' butt."

As I mentioned, I inherited my mom's discipline. And since I already ate a diet where there was little "fattening" food to cut out, for the first time in a long time, I undertook an exercise regime.

I started going to the community fitness center almost every day. I worked up to walking at least 3 miles on the treadmill at 3 degrees elevation. I did this religiously for at least a couple of years and I found myself buying pants in smaller sizes again. I'm sure I lost those 25 pounds of "baby weight" again.

A friend gave me a treadmill that she wasn't using and I continued to walk at home at least four times a week. I still do. One of my first purchases after we moved here was a new treadmill. I've increased the elevation to 3.5 degrees and I generally walk for 50 minutes at 2.7 miles. I'm tired when I'm done and I can't seem to step it up any more without feeling exhausted.

Yes I know exercise is supposed to increase endorphins and give us a sense of well being and more energy, but it's never worked that way for me. I've never had a "runners high." At best I feel a sense of relief from guilt when I'm done. Beyond that I just feel more tired.

I'm not saying it isn't worth doing and I don't plan to quit, but over time my body has rebounded to that pregnancy shape and I'm pretty sure that I've found those lost 25 pounds.

I wage an internal battle. I want to forgive myself for aging, for the effects of gravity. I've lost 2 inches of height too. Maybe it just got compressed around my midriff. I want to love myself as I am. I want to throw out the beauty-magazine model of emaciated models. I want to say, it's OK to be the size your body wants you to be, as long as you aren't being a ridiculous glutton living a morbidly inactive lifestyle.

But I realized this week that I'm not comfortable in my body. Even in my generous size 14 elastic-waist skirt and cute loose summery over blouse, I don't feel relaxed or at ease. I feel stuffed, yet at the very same time I feel hungry, because all I've eaten today is some blueberries, half a banana, and half a yogurt.

I feel like I've swallowed a basketball. I feel like there is a melon-sized tumor in my tummy. I feel like there is a steel band around my middle, approximately where my waistline would be if I still had one.

What I can do about it is the question. I hate feeling hungry. I get hangry. Hungry angry. Hunger messes with my neurotransmitters and feels a lot like depression.

We all know that diets fail, especially fad diets, because you don't change your eating habits. But what do you do when your eating habits are pretty good to start with?

Honestly, I'm not sure that I can lose the inches. Neil says it's all a matter of calorie intake and calories expended, but I'm not sure I could starve myself enough to make a difference without risking my emotional well being. I'm not sure I can drive myself to work out more, harder, longer, without risking my physical well being.

Still, I'm not going to give up and write it off as a lost cause. For now, I'm going to be more mindful about what I eat and try to figure out where I can improve. I'm going to give thought to how I can beef up my workouts without wearing myself out unduly.

And I'm going to scale back on the ice cream ritual.

Neil asked me if I wanted to go get frozen custard. I said, maybe not today. He said, I guess I'm on a diet too.

It was a low blow, but it worked, and to keep our happy marriage happy, I made the sacrifice.

One scoop of salted caramel custard in a cup, please.

I'll scale back another time.

Your love
Is better than ice cream.
Better than anything else that I've tried
And your love
Is better than ice cream
Everyone here knows how to cry

And it's a long way down
It's a long way down
It's a long way
Down to the place where we started from

Your love
Is better than chocolate
Better than anything else that I've tried
And oh love is better than chocolate.
Everyone here knows how to fight

And it's a long way down
It's a long way down
It's a long way
Down to the place where we started from.

(Timothy Watson,Timothy Wild, © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz