I’ve taken to naming my belly fat. Her name is “little Helga”. I don’t know why. She just is. I know what you are thinking: “Don’t name her! Then you will get attached to her!” But it’s important to not see my body as “the enemy”, or something I must conquer and stake out for claim in the name of the Holy Ramen Empire.
Little Helga and I have been seeing each other on and off for about 12 years now. She arrived slightly before my second child and during the beginning of what was to become my apocalyptic mid-life crisis. I was a belly dancer for 8 years, so much of Helga was most appreciated. A round belly is a sexier look for a belly dancer and more to flaunt! Ever seen a skinny belly dancer try to roll quarters on her belly? It’s like dropping pennies over a xylophone. Not the show stopper you were expecting.
I used to gape in envy at the curve and sensual roundness of the other belly dancers, while lamenting my little pooch that was more of a Polly pocket pouch due to childbirth number 1. My belly didn’t roll over my jeans. It was more of a pouty toddler slumped over an armchair. It sort of “dribbled” over my belt loop, in a half-hearted manner of flabby skin that had the snap-back elasticity of a slinky tied to the caboose of a moving westbound train back in ’89.
Most of my growing up years I was a Twiggy and couldn’t gain pounds to save my life! Weight Gain shakes and heavy carbs were shoved in like a bear approaching hibernation, but to no use. Ahhh, the bliss of a life of a skinny girl! Living and eating whatever I wanted without a care in the world! Never having a shameful moment in front of a mirror or any self deprecation whatsoever! Strangely enough, I’ve never had a blissful moment under those glaring white bulbs in the dressing room. It was always a self-loathing one girl show starring “Lowla Self-Esteem”.
Fast forward 2 kids, 1 mid-life crisis, coming out of the closet, and 23 years of life experience later…
After a blissful and celebratory wedding, my wife and I kept the party going! They say happily married couples put on a couple of extra pounds after the wedding. I must have been ecstatic! I packed on 12 extra pounds of pure delight! It was time to make a couple of changes. We needed accountability and that wasn’t exactly our strong suit. I like to think my wife and I have a pretty good give and take relationship. She gives me wine and chocolate, and I take it. I give her carb-o-licious casseroles and she takes it! We needed to try a new radical tactic! And when you want something radical and can’t wait for the 6 weeks shipping and delivery, what do you do? There’s probably an APP for that! Yes there is! Ours is called myfitnesspal.com
For 13 days I have watched every calorie going into my pie hole and recorded it like a scientific discovery. Every meal is logged, every morning weigh in is logged. Every snack and exercise is logged. (Did you know house cleaning is considered exercise? There may be an upside to that madness after all! ) And so far? I’ve lost almost 4 pounds. Now, I know there are going to be fluctuations and up and down times, but the goal is to eat healthier in a way I can actually maintain as a life long approach. I’m still looking for a healthy version of spaetzles in butter, but not sure the Universe is ready for that yet.
Not only does it keep me accountable, but because I invited my wife, I can see her progress too and give her applause and cheer! We all need a cheering section. (Hey, maybe there’s an app for that?)
So, at this moment, I’m on my first REAL diet at 43. The first thing I want to say goodbye forever to? The notion that my self-worth is tied up in a body measurement, a number, or a certain “look” that is appealing to a beauty culture whose main goal is to keep me miserable so they can sell me something! I also don’t want to trash other women’s bodies for being curvy or skinny or whatever shape they are. We can notice our differences and even have fun with it, but no need to bash. Because we are raising a daughter, it’s even more critical that I watch how I speak about myself in front of her. We are on a journey to change ourselves for the better, but need to keep in mind that she is listening, watching, and taking mental notes about how she will see herself. Loving who we are now may just be the best outcome of trying to change.
Yes, I have a tentative goal weight number in my head, but really, it’s more about feeling alive and being able to stretch and move and run and jump and climb the way I want to while I still have this body to do it in. I actually love having hips and curves now. Little Helga and I might be seeing less of each other as the weeks go by, but I don’t want her gone. I might just want to visit my belt loops a couple more times and wave to my toes!