Hey – we may as well have fun as we go sliding into old age, right?

Posts tagged ‘gaining weight’

A Few Updates on 2010 (Before It’s Too Late!)

As we approach a new year, it’s not only time to think about resolutions for the future (most of them futile, to be sure), but it’s also time to take a look back at the year we’re completing.  Time to examine, evaluate and grade ourselves on how well we weathered having another year pass us by. 

Overall, 2010 was pretty decent for me.  For those of you who have been faithful readers (thank you!) since this blog began in May, please allow me to bring you up to date on some of the things I wrote about in 2010. 

My very first post was primarily dedicated to my aging neck, and the folds of skin that have appeared over time.  Update:  no change.  In fact, at the company Christmas party a few weeks ago, they took photos of couples as they arrived, and I still managed to be shocked at the double and triple chins I exhibit in the picture – yikes!  There’s really no way to “suck in” your neck like you do your belly, so I guess from now on my photos will show me with my chin pointing slightly skyward, and shoulders dropped, all in an effort to stretch that wattle out a little bit and reduce the deep skin folds.

Something else I’ve written about a few times this year is my displeasure with my weight.  One of the not-so-nice results of growing older is a slowdown in our metabolism.  Add to that the inevitable “oh, screw it, I’ll eat whatever the hell I want” attitude of a menopausal woman, and the result is extra pounds.  I’d love to tell you that my renewed focus on my reflection in the mirror, my dedication to Zumba, and my interest in improving my health lead me to an epiphany that allowed me to conquer fate and lose weight.  I’d love to tell you that, but it would be a lie. 

Instead, I’ve gained several pounds since early summer, and even crossed into another set of tens on the scale, if only briefly.  My clothes (already up one size) are feeling snug.  I am NOT going up another size.  So it’s a safe bet that one of my resolutions will have something to do with diet.  For real.  Honest.  No, really.  I’m serious.  Stay tuned…

In September, I recommended some of my favorite cleaning supplies to my readers.  I have an interesting update on that one.  My beloved Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner died in November.  The thing runs every day in a steamy shower, and they can’t last forever (it was several years old).  So I picked up a new one.  But it just didn’t run right, and soon it didn’t run at all. 

I felt terribly betrayed, especially since I’d so enthusiastically recommended the product to my friends in this very blog.  So I sent an email to S. C. Johnson, makers of Scrubbing Bubbles, expressing my disappointment, suggesting that they shouldn’t have messed with a good thing, etc.  It wasn’t a nasty email, but I was firm in expressing my feelings.  I almost immediately received a well-worded personal response, apologizing for the situation, stating that they would send me a coupon for my inconvenience.   

I instantly felt better about the company and their product – it’s amazing what good customer service can do.  Two days later, an envelope arrived from S. C. Johnson, with a coupon for an entire sprayer set – FREE.  And the new one works flawlessly. 

When they mentioned sending me a coupon, I figured they were going to send a $1.00 coupon for cleaning solution, not a free $20 unit!  Needless to say, my doubts about recommending this product are completely gone, and I’m back to telling everyone – get a Scrubbing Bubbles Automatic Shower Cleaner!!!

This blog is one of my accomplishments for 2010, and I’ve managed to stay pretty close to a weekly schedule with my posts.  And yes, it did stretch my writing muscles, and yes, I did get my first paying writing job this year.  After I told you about getting that exciting first paycheck, I received two more checks for writing (whoo-hoo!!). I’m working on a relatively big project right now that might actually give me my first real byline.  That’s pretty heady stuff for a Baby Boomer who always “wanted” to write, but never felt the courage to get out there and actually write.  And while I haven’t quite dusted off the old novel as promised, I have jotted some notes on the plot line, and I think I have a general direction laid out for the book.  So that’s another “stay tuned” subject, and I’m sure writing will also be mentioned in my resolutions for 2011.

I did manage to predict the future in one post, much to my dismay.  Two weeks after writing about adult toys and fretting that someday we’d see commercials for vibrators on television, it happened.  Hubby and I saw a television commercial for a Trojan vibrator during prime time!  We just looked at each other and burst out laughing, but I really think it’s all a bit too much.

Another update on the home front – – – I mentioned snow recently, as in how much snow we’ve received here in upstate New York in December.  At the time, we’d hit fifty inches in two weeks, after more than six months of no snow at all.  Well, since that blog was written, we’ve received another twenty-three inches of snow and counting.  We are currently at 73.1 inches for December – our snowiest December ever.  I guess if you’re going to get snow, you may as well go for breaking the records, right?  That’s about all the snow really brings us – terrific bragging rights.  You think that massive blizzard on the east coast this weekend was “snow”?  Get real – those people don’t know what snow is.  To quote the governor of Pennsylvania – “wussies.” 

All in all, 2010 was a pretty darn good year.  Made some new friends.  Picked out our eventual retirement destination.  Started writing, and even got paid for some of it.  Examined my aging process in a blog, and survived the scrutiny.  Fifty-two was an okay age for me.  Fifty-three arrives in just a few weeks, and I’m thinking that’s going to be a good one, too.   I hope you can look back on 2010 with me as a mostly successful year, and look forward to 2011 as the beginning of a new adventure, as we go “sliding into old” a day/year/decade at a time.  Happy New Year!

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Fighting With My Reflection

A month ago, I posted a blog on my frustration with fitting back into my Fat Jeans again.  At that point, I’d lost a whopping 1 ½ lbs, and was determined to keep going.  So, consider this my update in frustration.  I don’t know which irritates me more – the mirror or the scale.

I am doing serious battle with my body right now.  And that’s not like me.  My body and I have always gotten along pretty well.  I’ve always been pretty in tune with what my body was doing and feeling.  Every little change was noted and acknowledged.  After a serious bout of IBS in my twenties, I learned that I could control some health issues (especially stress-induced ones) with a few moments of deep breathing, a good night’s sleep, a few days of simple foods, and truly paying attention to what my body was telling me it needed.  We got each other.

I married a great cook, so it was only naturally that some pounds came on after a while.  I accused him of making me “fat and happy”.  I had moved from an active lifestyle of horseback riding and farming to a sedentary suburban life.  It wasn’t my body’s fault that I gained weight – it was mine.  And when I decided eight years ago that I could be stronger than the food in my life, I dropped the weight and kept it off.  I felt terrific.

But my body has now joined the dark side.  My metabolism changes every year, and not in a good way.  Pounds come on in bunches, for no good reason.  Ten pounds a few summers ago.  Five here, five there, and another three this past April.  My body feels heavy, especially around the middle, and my clothes are uncomfortable.  I’m not at all at peace with my body right now.  Even Zumba isn’t weaving its magic spell this year (oh, sure, it’s fun, as I wrote a few weeks ago), but my body is unimpressed at the moment.

My body has become the enemy.  Stubborn, pouting, grumpy, lumpy and lazy.  It’s become old and cranky.  I stare at it in the mirror, and I’m horrified.  Officially, I’m within my healthy weight range, BMI and all that jazz, but my body is turning into something unrecognizable.  For crying out loud, I’m only fifteen pounds over my target goal weight!  The mirror shows me the extra weight, along with things like my skin, once taut, but now crepey and loose – under my chin, on the back of my hands, on my stomach, in my cleavage. 

And speaking of cleavage…oh, never mind.  Let’s just say my breasts are following gravity toward my waistline at a rapid pace.  And when the hell did I grow boobs on my back?  Suddenly there are big rolls of skin on my back that show under t-shirts and sweaters.  And bathing suits?  Forget about it.  All that extra flesh is determined to burst out in the most unbecoming places.  Ignore all the hype about the Miraclesuits.  Sure, your body is held in very nicely everywhere the suit is, but wherever it isn’t – – – who are we trying to kid?

I’m trying, damn it!  I’m going to Zumba, I’m walking almost every day, I’m drinking Slim Fast shakes, I’m trying to watch what I eat (I know I’ve cut calories), I’m even drinking 55 calorie beer, for crying out loud!!  I bought Wii Fit, and I’ve been using it daily for a whole week.  And my body is still sitting at the same place it was a month ago.  Seriously???  Not an ounce lost??  In a month??  What kind of cruel trick is that?  I’m sitting here at the computer with my jeans (not the Fat Jeans) both unbuttoned and partially unzipped for comfort, and that really ticks me off.

But I am not giving up.  Like a marriage going through a rough patch, my body and I are just having a hard time right now.  We’ll work through it and work it out.  I stare at my reflection and try to understand (and try to love) what I’m seeing.  I’m not one of those silly women who flail away at the aging process in panic, trying so desperately to look twenty-five forever.  I know that some changes are inevitable as I age.  I generally like getting older.  I can handle my crow’s feet and a certain degree of sag here and there.  But enough is enough.  This creeping, crepey invasion of flabby flesh is going to stop.

It’s time for a little “tough love” with this body of mine.  We have to get back on the same page.  This month-long plateau is going to end.  I may have to pay the price in some hunger pangs and unopened bottles of wine, but I can do it.  A little extra sweat.  More fruit and veggies (I’m munching strawberries right now).  A lot more water (yup, got a glass of water in front of me).  The Wii every single morning.  A walk every single day …. well, maybe not every day… but close to it.  Zumba at least twice a week.  I’ll drag my petulant body along for a while until it gets with the program and decides to join me. 

I’m not looking to get a 36-24-36 Barbie doll figure.  I’m far more realistic than that.  I just want my reflection to show a healthy, at least moderately fit, body.  A body I can relate to again.  With a minimum of nasty surprises in the mirror as time goes by.  Stay tuned………………………………..

My Love/Hate Relationship with Zumba

In case you’re wondering what Zumba is, it’s exercise disguised as dancing.  Or dancing disguised as exercise.  Or torture disguised as fun.  It’s basically a way to sweat like crazy and cram what feels like days’ worth of exercise into an hour or so.  It all began in Columbia, South America, and has swept the U.S. in the past 8 or 9 years.

I had no intention of being dragged into the craze when it hit our area a few years ago.   Sadly out of shape, I still could not imagine myself dancing in a room full of people.  You see, I’m just not very coordinated.  I have a bad sense of timing, and a worse sense of direction.  Invariably, if my husband says “look at that car on your right!” I will immediately look to the left.  So much so that Hubby now just sighs and says “your other right, honey”.  So any kind of structured dancing, even though I dearly love music, is not my strong point.

But my friends were very persistent, and they seemed to be having fun, so eventually I found myself going to classes with them.  That was a year ago.  I hate it.  And I love it.  It’s complicated. But I won’t give it up.  Let me try to sort it out the primary issues for you.

1a.   SWEAT IS BAD –  You know that old saying that ladies don’t sweat, they perspire?  Well, not doing Zumba they don’t!  It’s definitely sweat that rolls off in buckets.  Your hair sweats in Zumba.  Just this morning, I went to brush my bangs off my face in class, and a shower of water sprayed out in front of me.  Surprised, I put my hand to my head and realized my hair was completely soaked with sweat.  That much sweat is disgusting.  It’s uncomfortable.  It’s cold and unhealthy in the winter when you walk outdoors into below zero temperatures.  It requires washing of workout clothes, including my expensive athletic bra, after every single class.  Sweat is not pleasant.

1b.   SWEAT IS GOOD – Sweat is empowering.  Sweat tells you you’re really doing something.  Sweat tells you that your body is working – hard.  Sweat tells you that you’re building muscle and burning fat.  That’s a really good feeling.   Sweat is powerful.  Sweat is good for women.

2a.  MIRRORS ARE BAD – Most Zumba classrooms have at least one wall of mirrors.  They’re scary.  They show EVERYTHING to EVERYONE.  You see everything you’re doing wrong – every time I turn right instead of left, the mirror lets me know about it (as does the unsuspecting classmate to my right!).  The mirror also shows me how bad I look in workout clothes.  Just when I’m feelin’ the music and thinkin’ I’m really jammin’ to the song, I get a glance of myself in the mirror – lumpy, puffy, in pants that are too short, with a blotchy red face, and my mouth gaping open like a flounder, gasping for air.  So much for confidence – I look like I’m ready to drop!  Mirrors are not helpful.

2b.  MIRRORS ARE GOOD – There’s always the practical purpose of mirrors – they allow you to see what the instructor is doing, and they show you whether you are doing a move properly when you compare your moves to hers.  But there are other fun things about mirrors.   The mirror teaches us to avoid that gasping flounder look as we struggle for air, and to instead purse our lips like we’re just blowing off a little steam.  Lips together, mouth more closed than open – “whew”.  Trust me – it’s much more attractive than the gasping flounder look.  Mirrors can boost your Zumba confidence when you realize that many other people in the room are making even more mistakes than you are!  Or when you realize that everyone looks weird in workout clothes.  Mirrors show you that most women (and men) in class are really not concerned with how they look – they’re just throwing themselves into the dance moves the best they can.  You want to be fearless, like them.  Mirrors also show you when you finally get that complicated step right, and you’re smokin’ it, keeping up with every move the instructor is making.  Thank goodness for mirrors!

3a.  HIPS ARE GOOD – Moving and swinging your hips with the beat of Latin music is very seductive.  I’m not talking about being seductive to an audience.  It’s seductive to you.  I’m talking about the feeling of letting your hips sway to the rhythm of drums and Latin words.  Whether it’s a belly dance to a Shakira song; or a samba to the rhythm of an island beat; or an aggressively low hip swing to a naughty Notorious lyric, you feel the power of music.  You feel the power of your own body, moving with the music.  It’s a beautiful thing for your soul to feel that kind of synchronicity.  It makes you appreciate your body, rather than criticize it.  Whether you’re full of curves or skinny as a rail, feel the rhythm and MOVE.

3b.  HIP IS GOOD – Look closely – this isn’t a bad/good comparison as with the first two topics – it’s just two positive takes on “hip” and Zumba.  Moving your physical hips is good.  But so is BEING hip!  Some of you may have teenagers who keep you in the loop on the current entertainers, but Zumba saved me from a life of being one of those boring old people who say  “who’s that?”  “never heard of her!” when we watch the MTV Music Awards.  I know who Lady Gaga is, I dance to Shakira and the Black Eyed Peas.  I can do the “Beyonce bounce”.  I groove to Pit Bull, man!  In my real life, I listen to country music and oldies, but in Zumba, I am crankin’ it to lyrics I (probably blessedly) don’t always understand.  Some are in Hispanic, and some are being ground out in rap.  I am in a room with women (and men) smaller and larger than me, older and younger than me, and we are all yelling and cutting loose to a song that I’m pretty sure is talking about posing “like a pornography poster.”  Do I have fun being just a little naughty and working out to that infectious hip hop beat?  Oh, yeah!  Being hip makes young co-workers eyebrows raise when you stride past them humming “Let’s Dance”.   Being hip is cool.  Being hip keeps you young.  Zumba makes you hip.

As with any workout, it can be torturous while you’re doing it.  But the afterglow is well worth the effort, and the changes in my body, stamina and confidence keep me going back for one sweaty, torturous, exhausting, exhilarating class after another.  Hating it.  And loving it.

Uh-Oh…Back in the “Fat Jeans” Again!

We all have them – hidden deep in the closet or at the very bottom of a drawer.  We feel comforted just knowing they’re there.  We hold onto them for years, just in case.  They’re our secret, silent insurance policies.  They’re our Fat Jeans. 

We don’t want to use them, don’t want to need them.  But we keep them because we know the realities of life, with all its ups and downs, including those found on our bathroom scales. 

We tell ourselves we’re only saving them in case we have a “bloated” day or a tummy ache.  But we know the truth.  We know that we’re hedging our bets and playing it safe.  All that weight we fought so hard to lose and/or control is always waiting to come back and surprise us.  We have to be ready for it.  Thus, the Fat Jeans.

And guess what I was wearing last weekend?  Yup – after they spent years at the bottom of the jeans pile in the closet, I dug up the Fat Jeans.  I could justify it by saying my other comfortable jeans (a/k/a the “Borderline Fat Jeans”) were in the laundry.  But I couldn’t deny the truth – those Fat Jeans fit.  Damn.

Four years ago, they’d have been inches too big.  I got rid of all the other loose pants back then, but I tucked these black denim trousers into the closet – just in case.  I never forgot them.  I saw them constantly.  Even picked them up a few times and thought about sending them to a church rummage sale.  But I always put them back in their safe place. 

In a way, I think I enjoyed knowing that they used to fit and became much too big for me to wear.  They were my badge of honor – my proof that I really had lost well over 30 lbs.  Like on “The Biggest Loser”, when at the end of the show, the person sent home holds up a pair of enormous pants, then drops them to show off their new, slimmer figure.  My Fat Jeans were never that large, but they had the same effect for me.  I used to be that, but now I’m this.

A few years ago, all that vanished weight started creeping back onto my hips.  In fact, two summers ago, I gained ten pounds in a matter of weeks.  Didn’t change my diet.  Didn’t change my activity level.  Just got bigger.  Like magic! 

At first I freaked out.  Someone mentioned it being a “meno-pot”, and I had no clue what she meant.  So I started doing a little research.  Oh, joy – as if getting older wasn’t enough fun, it turns out women get fatter, too.  It’s all natural.  Approaching menopause means slower metabolisms, decreased hormones, increased hormones, blah, blah, blah.  And even better, the weight gathers around our waistline, giving us those charming little pot bellies.  Our own little meno-pots. 

WHY WE GAIN WEIGHT NOW

Apparently, our body doesn’t communicate well with itself.  Menopause makes estrogen levels drop, but instead of just accepting that, our bodies want to find estrogen elsewhere.  Fat cells produce estrogen, so our bodies start collecting jiggly little fat cells around our middles in order to get that estrogen.  Our bodies should just say ‘good riddance’ to estrogen and move on. 

Progesterone also drops.  Lower progesterone leads to water retention (no wonder my rings are feeling tight on my fingers).  Testosterone levels drop, too, and this is one of the few times in our lives when we want more testosterone around.  When it drops, so does our metabolism, and we don’t burn calories as easily as we used to.  And one of the hormones that actually increases now doesn’t help us at all – androgen levels rise, and androgen, for some reason, makes our weight collect in our mid-section. Yippee.

Insulin issues can also lead to menopausal weight gain, as well as stress.  I don’t know about you, but I have a little stress flowing through my life right now.  My first thought was that stress makes us gain weight because comfort foods like chocolate and beer make us feel better, so we indulge in them more.  That’s probably true, but stress also encourages our body to hold on to fat, in some misguided nod to our Stone Age days, when stress meant we might be heading into a famine, so our bodies start collecting fat cells (what’s so darn attractive about those fat cells, anyway?).

As I cruised all my favorite medical websites, I read two different messages about this mid-life weight gain.  Some articles said “don’t feel bad, it’s not your fault.”  True, and nice, but not helpful.  The others said “if you’re active and eat right, you can beat it.” Also true, and even helpful, but nothing that we really want to hear.

So I ignored those extra ten pounds, which, over the next year or so, became the extra fifteen pounds.  In the last couple of months, after I stopped exercising, it became the extra 20 pounds.  And, this past weekend… I wore my Fat Jeans and they fit.  Argh!

WHAT I’M GOING TO DO ABOUT IT

So back I go to Zumba (more on that love/hate relationship another time).  No more careless snacking in front of the TV.  Much smaller portions at meals.  It’s not misery, and it’s not rocket science – if you eat less and move more you’ll lose weight.  But it’s so hard to get back into that habit, and now it’s complicated by an aging body that’s fallen in love with fat cells!

But I am NOT in love with Fat Jeans, or feeling out of breath after tying my shoes, or sitting on the sofa like a lump every night.  That’s not how I want to go sliding into old, so I’ll suck it up and start behaving.  I’ll keep you all posted on how I’m doing every week or so.  I’m off to a respectable start – since Fat Jeans Saturday, I’ve dropped a pound and a half.  Bye-bye, fat cells!  Bye-bye, Fat Jeans!

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