You remember the Freshman Fifteen, right? The idea that the average college freshman gains about fifteen pounds during the first year away from home. Some of us can attest to that. But that’s nothing compared to the Fifty-Something Fifty. If you’re somewhere in the vicinity of fifty years old, you may know what I’m talking about. If you’re not yet in that vicinity, well, hold on to your big girl panties — it’s not called The Change for nothing. It’s — The Change — because everything you knew about managing your weight changes!
Let’s go back a couple years. I’m officially in my fifties, thinking, this isn’t so bad. I’m cruising along, managing to maintain a reasonable weight. And by ‘reasonable’ I mean crowding the borderline but not quite tumbling into that place on the Weight Chart right after Ideal Body Weight, called: Overweight. Embracing my lot in life that ‘skinny’ never had been, nor ever would be, a description used of me. I could live with that.
Then, bam! About eight months ago, I began gaining weight at nearly a pound a week. Much of it started to show up around my middle-section. I’ve always had a fairly small waist and it was disappearing at an alarming rate. Suddenly, out of the blue it seemed, I was hungry, really hungry, like, all the time. I like desserts occasionally, but I was craving sweets constantly. I ate healthy foods most of the time. I just wanted more most of the time, too. The exercise hadn’t changed. I had even stepped it up a notch by adding more minutes when I walked. But even as I climbed hills, the weight climbed up as well. What had once worked to stop a gain was not working now. My hourglass figure was gradually but unmistakably moving into a time zone of its own. What in the world just happened!
There had to be a logical explanation.
So, I did the logical thing. I panicked! Do I have a tumor? Am I pregnant? Did I swallow a watermelon – whole? No, wait, I don’t even like watermelon!
Here I was, dodging the bullet all this time only to find myself fitting (rather snuggly, I’m afraid) right square in the middle of the category I deplore: Overweight. And I had even lost about fifteen pounds just a few years ago. I mean, I posted about it. Boy, do I feel sheepish.
As a wife and mother to two teenagers, I had too many urgent demands to take the time to figure this out early on. I really believed it was just a temporary adjustment to being a fifty-something, pre-menopausal insomniac with major depressive disorder. I honestly thought, after a couple of months of gaining that I would self-adjust and the gaining would just stop.
As it turns out, Denial is not my friend. After eight months I’ve concluded this is not a temporary adjustment. This is a real problem and it has reached a crisis point. I’ve been evaluating and researching and thinking myself to death. Something has most certainly changed.
I’m sure my ignorance is surfacing. Somehow, I’ve been oblivious to see this phenomenon happen in other ‘older’ women. Until now. Sometimes, you just don’t put two and two together. Unfortunately, in my case, by the time I put two and two together, it equalled thirty. Thirty pounds! In eight stinking months!
So, I did the most scientific thing I could think of. I Googled it. Were other women dealing with something similar? Turns out there are lots and lots of women with stories like mine. Some experiencing this at forty years of age. Some with one hundred pounds gained in three months. What I found was that many women are in the same boat. And, this boat is big, and I mean ‘big’, as in lots and lots of us in it together. Knowing I am in this with other women has brought some comfort, not much, but some. Enough comfort to continue searching for insight and answers.
As I continue to gather more scientific information, here are my very non-scientific deductions: 1. I am not a freak of nature. I am experiencing normal middle aged womanhood things. 2. I may not like some of the things aging does to my body but there’s only one alternative to getting older…and it’s much less desirable. 3. At this point in my life the amount of time and effort I put into something has got to be worth it. Exercise, eating well and caring about my health are still priorities. Fanatical, obsessiveness with weight, body size, and youthful appearances are not.
And, perhaps, one final overriding thought: When I die and stand before the Lord, what’s going to matter is how I lived, not how I dieted. That said, I’m not giving up or giving in. I’m moving forward, searching for relevant, real-life advice and sensible solutions.
As always, your thoughts are welcome.