Children may grow up and leave. Husbands, jobs, finances may come and go. Residences, hair color, and bra size may change. Sometimes it seems that, for many of us, the only constant in our lives is the desire to lose weight.
What is it about weight that has so many women in turmoil? We blame the media for presenting us with an idealized version of what a woman should look like: artificially-inflated boobs perched atop a pin-thin frame. Yet, a casual stroll down virtually any street in the country (save LA) will tell us that real women have normal-sized breasts and considerably more meat on their bones than that portrayed in the media.
In spite of what we can see so clearly, we believe that the loss of five or ten or one hundred pounds will change our lives. While it’s clear that some of us should lose weight for our physical well-being, many of us spend years struggling to lose an amount of weight that doesn’t impact on our health. Our rules about what we should weigh are often determined more by a standard we have set for ourselves, than one recommended by physicians.
Rather than go into the deep-seated reasons we are this way, we simply accept this as a fact of life. We drink diet Cokes with our pepperoni pizza. We hit the gym and go out for lunch after. We eat one cookie, decide our diet is blown, and happily consume the entire bag. We eat to celebrate, to mourn, to pass the time, to connect with others.
The passage of years doesn’t help. As we age, most of us discover that the pounds arrive more quickly and depart more reluctantly. They are the obnoxious party guests who refuse to leave, in spite of our best efforts. The eating patterns we established when we were younger no longer work. The occasional slice of pizza seems to show up the next morning on the scale. One day of foll-hardy consumption takes many days to correct.
At some point, we get to come to terms with all this. We get to shift from food-as-enemy to food-as-friend. The best we can do with food is to see it in terms of healthy vs non-healthy, instead of fat vs non-fat. We can get off the scale for good.
This post is an excerpt from Saving the Best for Last: Creating Our Lives After 50 by Joyce Kramer, Renee Fisher, and Jean Peelen. It is available on amazon.com.