You don’t care about my metabolism. Specifically, you don’t care about the grinding halt to which it came, and then turned around and spit in my face and kicked me in an ever-expanding middle. I won’t bore you telling you how much time I spend deeply mourning my once slim and fit body. I try my best not to tell friends how horrified I am when I pass a shop window and catch my reflection. I also try not to fall for all these ads about pills I can take that will show my mean ole metabolism who’s boss. Sadly, I don’t really succeed at either.
Apparently, the confluence of menopause and no longer being able to run 40 miles a week. All my decades of running and bodybuilding also took a toll on my knees, back and neck. I really should have worn sunscreen; I never did. And I really should have stretched, but I never did. So I’m not only overweight, I’m to infirm to do too much about it. I suppose I could eat a lot less and be hungry most fo the time. But I don’t want to. I would, however, gladly wake up at 5am again. I would gladly invite my three-weeks-apart chunky periods back. And yes, I’d shave a few years off my life if I could go back to the old not-so-old me.
It’s not just vanity, it’s not just about not having to limp, avoid stairs, or sit or stand without making a noise. (Incidentally, my parrot Butch imitates this noise whenever I get near the couch, so there’s also that.) Honestly, it’s not just shame or discomfort. It feels more like grief. The kind of grief you feel when you’ve lost what you always had, what you always knew, and what you know now is never coming back.
I go through life now in this unfamiliar, uncomfortable gorilla suit I can never take off. The me I’ve always known loved clothes, loved dancing, loved to go running, and loved being one of the strongest women in the gym. But not only am I not her, there seems to be no realistic hope of me ever seeing or being her again. I can’t go back, and I can’t honestly see a way ahead.
That was the me I thought of as me. The girl who wore clothes too skimpy (slutty?) because she hated her hair and face and was desperate to put her best waist forward. I never thought about what I ate or how much I ate because I didn’t have to (even before I started exercising). Me was a woman who went running before work, went to gym after work, and often went out Lindy-Hopping all night after that.
So if I’m not me anymore, I have to figure out who this new person is. I want to do martial arts or boxing but my knees and back won’t let me. (Please, I beg you, don’t try and sell me on swimming. Seriously, stop.) I want to weigh less, but I don’t want to count calories or points or obsess about food instead of my weight. What I DO want is to be comfortable in my own skin. I never really was before (hair, face, etc.) But while the decades have taken away mobility, menstruation and my metabolism, they’ve also taken away a good deal of fucks.
I don’t like this new gorilla suit, but I’m not sure how much I care if others like it or not. There aren’t lots of photos of me on Instagram smiling on ski slopes, partying with pals (I hate both those words), tequilas and sunsets. My RL Instagram feed would be chock full of me drinking coffee, me watching MSNBC, me flipping through British fashion mags with Law & Orderon in the background. Today’s feed might have featured me eating an entire box of Girl Scout cookies. And I’m OK with all that. I LIKE magazines, I LIKE TV, I LIKE eating, and I LOVE coffee. My ancestors would have given their eyeteeth to L my RL!
I need to turn down the self-pity and relish my great big fat small, uneventful life. I’m not going to eat a box of cookies every day, but if I do once in awhile, it’s OK. It’s better than OK. It’s wonderful. (And it’s for charity.)