It happened so fast. I had no idea what was happening to my body. Between the ketamine infusions and various medications for my CRPS, a six week stint of intensive medical treatments turned into a sort of self-inflicted fat camp. Only not the kind you think. I gained weight hand over Cheeto infested fist. Toblerones grumbled from within my night stand, begging to be peeled. I could not comfort my discomfort enough. So I ate to quell the side effects of nausea or munchie induced cravings for anything sweet. I had fallen deep into an abyss I hadn't experienced since the Freshman Fifteen.
No woman ever feels good outside of our comfort zone. The only muffin top I wanted around was nonfat and blueberry. After four children, I gave up on washboard abs. I would never be the mom photographing herself in a bikini with my kids at my feet. Especially since one is in college. That would just be weird. I have accepted my widened hips as a badge of honor. But this was a whole new boxing ring. I had gained twenty pounds in six weeks. I had become the Raging Bull of estrogen. Only now, there was no Hollywood paycheck, role of a lifetime, or Oscar waiting for me at the end of my scale. Just a mirror with a stranger staring back at me.
When I was in the throws of surgeries, I had lost too much weight. So the other end of the weight struggle is familiar to me as well. The crack baby look did not do me any favors. Friends would visit and see a waif of who I used to be. Being underweight was no less healthy than being overweight.
The key with my weight gain, was making admitting there was a problem, and to not freak out about it. It was time to take a breath, and know this was not going to be a sprint. To get back to a healthy weight, a weight I was comfortable with, I had to adopt good eating habits, but also not look at the scale. I wanted to feel healthy and have it be about that, not numbers on a scale.
I was going to make the decision to eat healthy foods and be aware of how I felt each week. Gradually, my stomach slimmed a bit here and there. I started to simply feel better about my physical being. And one day I noticed that although my face was fuller, I kind of liked it that way. Friends began to compliment me on how healthy I looked. That there was a glow to my skin. But surely I was no where near my pre-Bull weight. I kept up my healthy eating habits. I ate three meals a day and just cut out breads, sweets, and snacks. I drank more water. I am still sedentary due to my condition except for physical therapy, so exercise is not a possibility for me. But after a month, I could no longer hold back from weighing myself.
I still felt thicker around the middle. Still much heavier than I have been in twenty years. I am forty-three.
I stepped on the scale. My heart stuck in my throat. I was still fifteen pounds heavier than I wanted to be. But then it hit me. I was happy. My body was fuller but so were my breasts. My face was fuller, but so was my heart. I had tried all of my life to fight the very weight that would bring a glow to my skin. A glow that only comes with age.
It's my hope by sharing this story, that women who have hit forty might be a bit kinder to their selves. Cindy Crawford said once you hit forty, you have to choose between your tush and your face. I fought her on this in my own little mind. We argued about it for hours. At last, she has won.
Forty is a whole new age. It means not needing to be a size four. Or having the pressures of who we were before. It's a time to be gentle with our self. Because it can truly be a time to embrace within a whole new part of you.