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MY BODY THREW DOWN THE GAUNTLET!
My body threw down the gauntlet. My thighs, hips, arms, and tummy are challenging me to grow up. But my ego is fighting it the entire way.
I’m pretty lucky. Through my teens and twenties, when I gained weight, the fat cells, like little mounds of dimpled orange skin, distributed themselves evenly over my body. I was pretty happy with my body. Okay dokey.
Hah. Until I hit 30. Then the dimples hit the fan. The fan directed the dimples to my thighs. I grabbed a handful of thigh and lamented like a professional mourner.
“What the hell is this?” I said.
“Ah aging,” said my husband.
“No. It can’t be. It wasn’t there yesterday … “
“Yeah, it was. Get over it. Let’s get brunch,” said my good-chunk-younger husband.
Still, my butt was a rounded curve. My tummy was flat and firm – a six-pack when I was working out regularly.
Then I hit 40. My ass fell. Where did it go? It fell downward. Gravity took a bite. I asked an anesthesiologist for plastic surgeons about my flat butt. He looked at me.
“Not too bad. You’ve lost too much fat.”
“Huh?” I said. “I weigh the same as I did in high school.”
“You lost the fat pad at the top of your hips that keeps your butt high,” he said.
Good grief. Now I need a certain amount of fat to keep my butt in place. This is a bad joke. And since my husband had died, I was dating again. But not with the 20 year-year-old body.
I made peace with my thighs and butt. I decided ‘body peace’ beat becoming a gym bunny, perpetually obsessed with my appearance and unable to eat a Starbuck’s Morning Bun.
In my 50s, teaching 6 to 12 yoga classes a week kept me too busy to ruminate about my changing body. I would say to myself, “I am strong. My body is strong.” I learned to love my body. There’s nothing quite like wearing yoga clothes four or five times a week to get comfortable, even oblivious, to fat. I learned to love the different body shapes of the women and men in my classes.
Bodies became fantastic ‘objects’ – I know we hate that word, but the changes to my body feel less like a personal insult now. Bodies are capable of beautiful movements, showing our feelings, receiving information, and exchanging pleasure.
Then my body slammed into the fan.
I had a foot surgery with four months of two to three times a week debridements (think scraping the shit out of the surgical site without anesthesia), a forearm rebuild, and a surprise hip replacement, took thirteen types of prescription painkillers, countless bottles of 500 count over the counter anti-inflammatories, 2 years of antibiotics, and had many lab tests to check how my kidneys and liver were handling the deluge of medications, anesthesia, and Alieve.
Today, I am eight months into a period of enforced rest. I have an actual prescription for minimal movement and another for a medication that triggers sugar cravings. I have gained weight on my thighs, ass, and tummy. I have a fluffy tummy. Not flat. To add insult to injury, I have wavy old-lady arms. Ick. I had to reassess my self-concept.
“Crap,” I said to a friend.
“Crap yourself. You’re healing from surgeries. You’re getting older. Make peace with your body,” she said with an “I’m-not-putting-up-with-this” attitude.
We were perusing the Spanx aisle of the department store. “Aren’t these just lightweight girdles?”
“Yep. I remember them from my teens,” she said.
“Holy crap. I remember my mom trying to get me to wear one. Fuck. I felt like a sausage with stuffing coming out each end.”
“Well, that sounds uncomfortable. Don’t buy one,” she said.
She’s so smart.
So, I didn’t buy the Spanx girdle, and the funny thing is, yesterday I picked up my body’s gauntlet.
As long as I am living, I will need to have a relationship with my tummy, hips, thighs, and arms – my body. In whatever shape it is. With however much I am fat or not fat, toned or floppy. Dimpled thighs, flattened butt, fluffy tummy, and wavy arms, my whole body with its increase in fat, fat cells, cellulite, is mine. I own my shape.
You out there – I’m tossing you the gauntlet …
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