Sunday, February 7, 2010


I've been dragging out the dark colors more these days. And those unfriendly sounds you hear from me in the morning? Grunting. Scowling. Bitching and moaning. And a lot of mourning. Why? My waistline is disappearing.

This is how bad it's gotten: I've traded my obsession with the scale for one with a tape measure. And I cheat. I know that cutting off my circulation is a form of self-deception; that I'm deluding myself into a size six when I'm really closer to an eight. But I look at it this way--if it keeps me from reaching for the slice of chocolate cake or downing a bag of cheedar cheese rice cakes, I'll be healthier in the long run. I just wish I would be healthier with a waistline.

This isn't a fact that caught me off guard; in fact, battling bulges has been a part of my life story since--forever. The words "baby fat" came out of my mother's mouth while I was still pre-pubescent and I clung to that explanation well into my teens. Then suddenly one summer between my sixteenth and seventeenth birthdays, the baby fat melted and, tah-dah, I had a waistline at last! You better believe I flaunted it, sister.

You wouldn't think this was such a big deal unless you saw my father's side of the family. Waistlines were not in the genetic code. They're Italian, afterall. Spaghetti, meatballs, garlic bread, stuffed rigatoni, lasagna along side the Thanksgiving turkey....this kind of diet doesn't make for hourglass figures. But, still, I craved one. And until I got pregnant in my late 20s, I somehow managed to keep a whittled waist despite blue cheese burgers, double stuffed subs, Burger King chicken sandwiches--fried not broiled--slathered with mayo. Oh, to be 25 again and have a metabolism.

By the time I hit my 30s, I lucked out. America was discovering step aerobics, Jane Fonda, and wearing sweatbands as a fashion accessory. I was merciless. Three nights a week of one-hour workouts courtesy of the school community education program. Circuit training at the health club. If I had known then that this would probably be the last time I'd ever squeeze into a size three, I would have posed for more pictures.

Then came the earthquakes. A divorce, single motherhood, a bankruptcy. Bing, Bang. Boom. Even though I was an emotional wreck, I never ballooned to outrageous proportions. Still, for the first time in my life I had to shimmy into a girdle to control the overflow of tummy flesh. I was mortified. I mean, my mother wore girdles. Even worse, I became petrified that matronhood was just around the corner. You know the look....flabby skin dangling from the upper arms, the doublechin, the saggy boobs, a hefty bag of junk in the trunk. The evidence was all around me. Literally. Around me. It's like that saying, "Denial isn't a river in Egypt." My own version is this: "Middle age spread isn't something you schmear on a bagel." Meaning: There are some things about aging we simply have to accept, deal with, or let it go. 

I'm at the "deal with it" stage. The measuring tape, as looney as it sounds, gives me a visual reminder that my days of fast food feasts and the endless pasta bowl at The Olive Garden are gone. And my frantic anti-girth regimen seems to be having some beneficial outcomes: according to my latest labs, my glucose and cholesterol levels are all below the target range.

Still, I'm hoping there will come a day when I'm ready to toss in the tape and say the hell with it. It might have been in my 60s until I caught a tabloid photo of actress Helen Mirren looking svelte and un-matronlike in a bikini. For the love of God, you post-menopausal women have to stop posing with your clothes off! It's demoralizing.