For a long number of years, I have used three methods of ascertaining whether I am getting a little more hefty than I should be: (1) how snug the waistbands of my work trousers have become (2) if there is still a definite “innie”, rather than “outie”, in terms of the stretch of my body between my breasts and hips, and (3) the presence of a clear chink of light at the join of my thighs. No. 3 had, until recently, always been the least likely sign of my increased girth, because I had never been so heavy that there wasn’t a clear chink of light .
It was my first swimming lesson in 25 years that brought the ugly truth out into the light. There I am, padding along the side of the 25m pool, in my supermarket swimsuit and swimming cap, feeling reasonably self-conscious about the evidence of indifferent personal grooming on my armpits and legs. Oh, I am all about the “mom style.” And then, any hot embarrassment about body hair is quickly supplanted by a cold disgust as I feel my inner thighs squelching against each other. It’s like two jellyfish trying to take the same spot of sand on the beach.
My thigh gap has gone. Although I seem to be retaining my waist, the waistbands of my work trousers are also much tighter. My “central belt” hasn’t noticeably grown, but the evidence is all there that I have a spare tyre or two.
I am not so worried about the aesthetic aspects of putting on weight, as I am about the implication of having put on weight. I am eating as I have always eaten. Some days I eat “well” in terms of limiting my sugar intake, some days not so “well.” Some days, I am eating lightly all day, because of time, money and work constraints, and then grazing hungrily at night. Sometimes one slice of cake is not enough.
None of this is new behaviour in terms of eating. What is new is the evidence that my normal and mild level of activity isn’t going to claim large chunks of the calories anymore.
I am in denial about my state of fitness, and activity. I tell myself that walking and/or taking public transport, and keeping up with a little girl, ensures that I achieve a minimum level of cardio. Well, that and the regular experience of silent terror as she tests out a new physical challenge – scooter, bike, climbing wall, tree…
In fairness, my level of activity is being currently boosted by the weekly swimming lesson, and the odd burst of panic while in the water, or being made to jump off the side into the water. I do feel properly wobbly by the time I get home from the pool. I am also trying to attend the staff fitness class once a week, although life and work gets in the way at times.
It’s early doors for any signs that this extra bit of activity will have an impact on my weight. I also know that I should forget the weight element and focus on the health element, which will be sizeable, especially if I can transfer my increased confidence in the water to regular use of the school or local swimming pools.
The ageing process seems to require more than just a bit more exercise, however. It demands that I cut back, cut down, eliminate, moderate, and generally feed my metabolism the way one feeds a hamster. Which is a problem, because…I like to eat. I like to cook. I like to bake, and drink, and plan holidays around where the best restaurants and cafes are.
So, here I am. Facing the possibility that, continuing on my present course, I will continue to get heavier, to the point where I have to take proper measures to redress the fact. Or having to choose a different course where chocolate and cake and beer and wine and pizza all fall into the “occasional” category rather than weekly, or daily.
Getting old is really getting old.