The summer before my sixtieth birthday I had cancer. I lost weight.. a lot of weight. Cancer is scary. Radiation is horrible. But as a person who has consciously dieted her entire life getting down to 106 pounds was slightly thrilling for me. I won’t lie: pulling on size 4 pants over my once ‘thunder’ thighs was kind of an exhilaration and I kind of reveled in it. My pre-cancer weight, was a watched-carefully 123 to 126 on my 5’1” very small-boned frame. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot but on a short woman like me it was enough and sometimes more than enough. Now I am back near 120. Ouch. That’s a ‘hurts to type’ sentence. Nine summers later, as my 70th birthday looms closer, it’s harder than ever to lose weight. No news flash there but Weight Watchers-WW- doesn’t work as easily nor as quickly as it used to. Cutting back or out on wine, sugar and carbs isn’t as effective. Barre and pilates help of course but 70 year old pounds like to let me know they’re the boss. Then I heard this revelation.
“Liz, I wish you’d put on a few pounds. Truly, it will help protect you from illness and injury as you get older.” This from my (very young) Primary Care Physician at my last (Medicare) wellness check. I nodded politely and thought fat chance (no pun intended) and went home fully intent on not seeing that weight move out of the 1-1-teens even though at the office weigh-in it was hovering closer to 120 than 115. I googled his advice and yes, most of the research does support the ‘few extra pounds’ benefits. It seems to be linked primarily to preventing osteoporosis especially in women. However, the possibility of avoiding osteoporosis vs the reality of tight pants is a non-issue for me.. of course I’m still going to do my damndest to stay under 120.
So why do I hear his voice inside my head when the Chef’s special is chicken saltimbocca with homemade on-site farfalle and I choose that over the sautéed shrimp and vegetables? And oh-my-god this olive rosemary bread is so amazing dipped in oil. WHY DID YOU HAVE TO SAY THAT DOCTOR?? But then I started to notice something else…
My face actually looks kind of better fuller. Sure it could be the Botox and occasional fillers but there is no denying that there’s a natural smoothing of wrinkles that no needles can accomplish. And my arms look better with a little bit more fat (!) on them.. somehow it reduces the appearance of the crepiness and striations that comes with aging and its subsequent loss of collagen in the skin. And if my thighs are a bit heavier well hell… that’s why leggings were invented (God bless you Leggings Inventor whoever you are.)
Have I come to an aha moment in my life? Absolutely not. Do I eat whatever I want whenever I want.. no, nay never. But I am more forgiving of myself when I do indulge..when I have that second (or third) piece of (thin-crust) pizza. Hell, I beat cancer, bitch. So I eat the cheese and crackers. Order dessert. Toast myself with good wine in the good glasses. Enjoy the food. Celebrate my health. There are worse ways to slide into 70.