There’s a guy at my gym that I know from when our children were in elementary school. We worked on a bunch of fundraisers together over the years. He’s lost a lot of weight and when our paths cross at the gym, he ignores me. I imagine a thought bubble over his head that reads, “I’ve lost a lot of weight so I don’t recognize you anymore.”
Why does his weight loss aggravate my poor self-esteem?
At a party a few years back, a male friend said, “I’m glad to see you’re taking care of yourself. You look good.” I did a quick mental inventory of what I was wearing and tried to remember if I was having a good hair day. I hadn’t discovered the gym at that point, so I was pretty sure I wasn’t taking care of myself.
His comment niggled at me as I began to notice that many women of a certain age are decidedly heavy. However, since I wasn’t particularly taking care of myself, I decided that he had it backwards; they must be actively letting themselves go.
I’ve always been self-conscious about my weight; my sisters are skinny. But when I look at pictures of a younger me I don’t see an overweight girl, or teenager, or adult. I see a regular-sized person. And despite being obsessed with whether or not I was overweight, it wasn’t until after I had my daughter that I was bothered enough to embark on my one, and to-date only, dedicated life-style changing diet. I lost a lot of weight and managed to keep it off for almost ten years. And then it began to creep back.
The weight gain was slow, but steady. I started to worry. Was I finally letting myself go? How could that be? If anything, I had just started to take care of myself! I went to the gym at work an average of four days a week. I ate Weight Watchers meals for lunch. When I was laid off in 2009 the first thing I did was join my local gym. I was not going to let unemployment derail my exercise regime. I kept exercising and the weight kept creeping up.
Then came the hot flashes and I finally understood ─ menopause; the time when women’s bodies begin betraying us by messing with things we hold dear, like our internal thermostat. Without enough estrogen, the hair we’ve cherished gets thinner and hairs we don’t want start sprouting where they do us no good. Our emotions fly all over the place. And worst of all, our metabolism slows down. All of a sudden, we need to eat less and exercise more, just to stay even.
So here’s the news flash: women don’t let themselves go. While we’re happily enjoying midlife, the universe changes the rules. I’m told that many women find the post-menopausal stage of their lives fabulous. I hope that proves to be the case. Meanwhile, next time I see that ex-fatty in the gym and he ignores me, I might just punch him in the nose.