My birthday is this weekend. I’m hoping to go out to dinner and I’d prefer sushi but I wouldn’t say no to a steak. Actually, I wouldn’t say no to Mexican food, Chinese food, or a gorgeous piece of lasagna. I’m going to want bread, an appetizer, and dessert (mmmm…crème brulee). And I’ll need at least one bottle of wine for the table. For my husband’s birthday in March we indulged on dinner at a very expensive steak house. We ate too much food, spent too much money, and enjoyed every bite.
I simply love food. My husband and I always joke that we could live in a mansion filled with priceless pieces of furniture and art if it weren’t for our eating and drinking habits. We love food. We love to eat at restaurants. We both are caffeine dependent and spend enough money at Starbucks and Dunkin’ that I actually gasp when I add it up (and promptly forget because that bill will never change). We also love beer and wine and visiting breweries and wineries to hone our tastes and enjoy the indulgence. We talk for a few minutes every afternoon and we always discuss that night’s dinner plans. Every day one of us begs the other to “please let’s go out” or “oohh let’s order pizza/Chinese/sushi” while the other is forced to be the financially responsible and healthy one and veto. We swap these roles depending on the day of the week.
I also use food as a comfort and as a treat to myself. I reward myself on Fridays with a Venti White Mocha Latte from Starbucks WITH whipped cream, thank you very much. When I’m bored, I eat. When I’m in a good mood, I eat. When I’m miserable, I eat. Food makes me happy. Good food makes me ecstatic.
I was blessed with a rather small frame and I’m naturally on the thin side (despite the above mentioned eating habits). Three pregnancies caused my overall weight to fluctuate and eventually even out about 15 pounds higher than I was on my wedding day. I was happy enough with this, however, and I adjusted my style and size of clothing to best fit my frame that now had a wider waistline and a smaller chest.
Why did pregnancy and nursing take my body’s fat from my chest and deposit it into my belly?? I mean, seriously? Why?
Anyway, I started exercising more regularly but I didn’t necessarily change my food intake. Sure, from time to time I would attempt to adopt healthier eating habits. Ultimately, however, I made no real changes. Then I hit 40.
I swear, on the morning of my birthday, I got out of bed and gained a pound. All of a sudden I noticed my pants were a bit snug. If my husband and I had a particularly food-and-drink heavy weekend my stomach would be noticeably fuller. Despite running a few miles a few times a week, I have been slowly gaining weight.
Once a month or so (ahem…you know when), I will become quite miserable about this extra weight. I’ll look at myself in the mirror and I feel fat and I feel old. I know the weight is coming on because I’m older and my metabolism is slowing down. I know I need to change up my exercise habits if I’m to see any results. I also know I need to do something about my love affair with food.
I started thinking that maybe I could learn to love and accept my body. This body created three beautiful babies. This body has not let me down even during times of extreme exhaustion, stress, or fear. It has carried me through, never giving out, and allowed me to put one foot in front of the other, every busy day. My husband loves me, no matter how my body has changed. My children are always asking to be close to me—hugging and snuggling my soft center. My youngest burrows into my cozy embrace every night when she’s scared. Not one person has ever told me that I should change my body—except for me. I’m not a smoker. I’m not a heavy drinker. I have a relatively safe and healthy lifestyle. Yes, I like sugar in my coffee and a dessert after meals. I enjoy pasta (oh so much) and a good batch of french fries. I love cheese…on everything. It’s fine. I’m fine.
My husband had some surgery last month. Nothing major but he needed to check in with a general practitioner who would determine if he was medically healthy enough for the procedure. He hadn’t seen his doc in a few years so they took tons of blood and ran many tests. And what do you think my 40-something food loving husband was told? Yep. Not good. His blood pressure is high and his cholesterol is higher. Just like that, during that few minute conversation, food became our enemy. For the last month I’ve done nothing but read food labels, medical websites, and recipes. I’m shocked at the damage something I love SO MUCH is doing to our bodies and our overall health. We’ve cut down on white carbs, sodium-heavy foods, and cheese (sob). I’m making more salads. We have more fruit in the house and less junk food. I’ve gone A MONTH without Chinese food. We drink less. After three weeks of cutting white carbs, sodium, and beer from his diet my husband lost about fourteen pounds. I followed a similar diet and guess how much I lost? Zero point zero.
So where do we go from here?
I’m not really sure what the answer is. We need to worry about our health as we are definitely aging (no getting around that fact). However, aren’t we FINALLY at an age when we can start enjoying the finer things in life (for me that’s food)? I’m guessing it involves the old saying, “everything in moderation”. Will I obsess over every pound I weigh? No. Should I keep trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle? Yes. Did I make reservations for my birthday dinner? Sushi. Will I order dessert? You bet. Is this discussion over? Nope. Here I come 41. Let’s find a way to get along.