Middle-Aged and Frumpy

If you’ve read my last two posts, then you know I’m on a mission to lose weight. I’m motivated primarily by a concern for my health, with a desire to look good being merely a happy consequence. That’s why my goal weight is nowhere near my ‘ideal’ weight—I don’t need a bikini body, and I don’t particularly want one, either.

The last time I embarked on an adventure like this, I was 21, and my motives had a lot more to do with vanity than health. Back then I did want the bikini body (though I never achieved it). I followed a diet—Richard Simmons’ ‘Deal-A-Meal’ to be exact— and went to the gym three times a week. I lost 20 pounds in no time at all, and even when I quit the gym and stopped paying close attention to what I ate, I still maintained a relatively healthy weight throughout my twenties. By my early thirties I’d put that 20 pounds back on again, and then quickly added another 30 before I hit the midpoint of that decade. I managed to shed 20 pounds before my wedding at age 34, then I had two kids and gained those pounds back by the time I turned 40.

I’m 43 now, and let me just say for the record that it’s a hell of a lot harder to lose weight now than it was 20+ years ago. Several people had told me it would be, and I’d nodded in a vertical plane, but I hadn’t really understood.

Now I do.

I lost DietBet.

I was physically unable to meet my January step goal.

I can’t do what I used to do. I understand that now.

And I’m OK with it.

43 is not 21. I get it. And to be honest, I like 43 a lot more than I liked 21. In my twenties I was spending a lot of time and energy trying to be in my early twenties. I was supposed to be beautiful and interesting. I was supposed to be sociable and exciting. I was supposed to do certain things, go certain places, have certain interests. Never mind that I hated trendy clothes and despised being in crowds. Never mind that I could think of a lot of other things I’d rather be doing than fussing with my hair and make-up. Never mind that I preferred a quiet, boring life to that of a social butterfly. Never mind that I didn’t have much in common with the people I hung out with. In my early twenties, I still cared what people thought about me, and I let that dictate a lot of my actions and decisions.

In my forties, I don’t give a shit. And I get a lot less flack for that now than I did when I tried it half a lifetime ago.

I realize that I’ve always been middle-aged and frumpy. And now I’m finally old enough to embrace it.

I arrange my family life and my social life in such a way that I’m able to avoid crowds. As a homeschooler, I take my kids to kid-friendly environments in the middle of the school day, when the worst thing I might encounter is a school field trip (although those can be pretty bad). My husband and I schedule our date nights for weeknights, so we don’t have to deal with the weekend crowds. I don’t follow sports. I watch very little TV (no sitcoms, and I’m usually a few weeks or seasons behind on my crime dramas because I’m overly dependent on my DVR). I haven’t listened to ‘new’ or ‘popular’ music since the early 1990’s, have only seen about a dozen and a half movies in the last 25 years, and I have no idea who all these people are in the ‘Entertainment’ section of my news app. I wear clothes that I like and that are comfortable. I wear shoes that are practical. My hair gets trimmed twice a year and hasn’t encountered hairspray in about a decade, and I only wear make up four or five times a year. When I’m not doing something with or for my family, my idea of a good time is an empty house and a good book. This is who I am. This is how I want to live. I like what I like, and I’m finally confident enough to own it. So it’s harder to lose weight in my forties, but the benefits of middle age definitely outweigh the challenges.

I missed my DietBet target by two pounds, but I still lost five pounds in January. I’ve lost 10 pounds since my daughter’s birthday party, when I committed to this endeavor. I’ll take it. The pounds are coming off slowly, but they are coming off.

So I might not be able to exercise as often as I planned. When I was 21 I worked full-time and took one or two college courses at night, but it was just me. I could schedule three workouts a week without a problem. I don’t work outside the home anymore, but I homeschool my two children, manage the family finances, manage my husband’s business finances, do the laundry, do the grocery shopping, cook the meals, and am a general purpose wife and mother. I’m also writing a book. I’m not exactly sitting on my ass eating bonbons all day, and my schedule is not entirely my own. Exercise is good—it’s an important component of a healthy lifestyle—but it plays at best a minor role in weight loss. Diet is far more important, and I’m keeping to that most days. With the kids’ activities and planning meals for the whole family, I might exceed my calorie goal some days. It happens. As long as those days are the exception and not the rule, I’ll be fine.

I’m not perfect, and I’m not going to try to be. I am middle-aged and frumpy, and that works for me. I’m making some changes to enhance my overall health, but even when I reach my goal of 130 pounds, I’ll still be middle-aged and frumpy. And I won’t stop being middle-aged and frumpy until I graduate to ‘cantankerous senior citizen.’

There’s a little part of me that’s really looking forward to that.


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