Almost 58. Not many gray hairs. Wrinkles, yes, but could be worse. Strong legs; strong arms. Looks pregnant.
No matter how you feel about yourself, there’s something that just…isn’t…right. For me, that’s my stomach. I can eat well, exercise, get sleep. But my stomach will not go away. And while I try to tell myself it shouldn’t bother me as long as I’m otherwise satisfied–well, it does. Because knowing this paunch hangs out means I’m not otherwise satisfied. The center controls the peripheries and “The center will not hold.”
- My stomach increases my back pain. Having lumbar discs in various stages of disintegration isn’t unusual in an older woman with a history of back problems in her family. But the more gut I carry, the worse the strain. Now my back is having to support my belly instead of the other way around. Poke me (just try it!) and you’ll feel the tight abdominals underneath but the layer of fat on top still has lots of weight and pulls my midsection forward, and along with it, my back. And as I get older, this will also increase my chance of falling, because good posture is essential for balance.
- Stomach fat or “visceral fat” makes me at greater risk for heart problems. Since my hips are small, there isn’t much room for error in the waist/hip ratio that is used as a predictor. Despite my BMI (body mass index) putting me easily in the normal range, my waist/hip ratio–looked at by itself–would say I was obese. 5’3″ and 125 but obese. Add my high cholesterol into this and I’m no longer healthy but at risk of heart attack even with no other risk factors. Carrying lots of visceral fat is one of the best reasons there is to exercise and eat right in an effort to reduce the risk and I absolutely encourage it. The less, the better, for everyone.
- Shopping for clothes is a pain in the ass. Anything that comfortably fits my waist has room in the hips for both my cats. Fit my hips and I have not just a muffin top but a full loaf of brioche top. Because I’m not exactly “unendowed,” I can’t just wear the leggings with tunic look: talk about an oil drum on sticks. Besides, that makes me look even more pregnant and while I’m sure there are pregnant 58-year-olds, I want some props for being past hot flashes.
And vain as all get-out, I simply feel bad about myself. Especially because I’m a personal trainer, I feel that everything should be, well, not perfect, but at least in proportion. And I’m not there. And won’t be. No matter what I do, this will hang there in front of me. Can I make it less noticeable by being a little better about eating and exercise? And the rewards would go far beyond vanity. But my Buddha belly will remain. And Buddha is not happy. Don’t even think about rubbing this belly.