Thursday, 31 January 2019

Embracing the middle-age spread

I don't know if it's because I turned 39 last month or the fact that I spent the majority of the second half of 2018 lying supine, eating candy, but one thing is clear: my body is changing. My hips have gotten wider, there's a permanent roll on my tummy when I'm sitting down, and my cellulite is starting to spread to the front of my thighs. I also recently noticed that I seem to have a tiny roll/skin fold/third bum cheek? under my right buttock, which feels very strange but also kinda hilarious.

I'm still (mostly) wearing the same clothes as always, but they fit differently now. A bit tighter in the hips, a bit more tummy spillage above the waistband. I finally understand why mothers like high-waisted pants so much - no spillage! I recently bought two pairs myself, and wear them almost exclusively. 
While my limbs are unchanged (front-of-the-thighs cellulite notwithstanding) my middle is slowly expanding. Yes, it's happening: the middle-age spread has started to set in.

To be honest, I smugly thought it wouldn't happen to me. 'I'm fit and healthy,' I assured myself. 'I'm too hyper to sit still for long.'
I thought I would be one of those ageless women who yogas and walks #everydamnday, and who could eat whatever she wants without gaining weight.
But I didn't factor in that life can knock you down, and that there comes a time in every life where you'll be on the ground, struggling to get back up.


Imagine my surprise when I, who had plenty of energy all her life, found myself struggling to get out of bed last summer. The thought of exercise would have made me laugh, but I was too exhausted for laughing. I went from an endless supply of spoons to only a handful, and I had to use them wisely. Work, basic hygiene, keeping the house from sinking into squalor, preparing food (sometimes) and writing (to keep my sanity) were all I had energy for. Eating healthy? Working out? There was no way.

As a result I gained 10 pounds and got softer and squishier.
While this would have sent me into a full-blown crisis ten years ago, this time around I didn't care.
I continued to love my body. It got me up every day even if my mind didn't want to.
It was pain free, something my husband hadn't experienced for months.
It was still strong, even though I didn't do any exercises to keep it that way.
My body was wonderful, and it was there for me as I was going through something hard.
Did it really matter if I lost some muscle tone and gained some extra squish?
Of course not.

I often talk about the seasons of life, comparing them to the seasons of nature. Nothing stays the same, and we go through different cycles just like nature goes through its seasons. I believe in resting and in listening to your body's needs. If it needs to hibernate for a while and you give your body the rest it craves, your energy will come back.


My hibernation lasted for six months. Six months where I was the least physically active I have ever been in my life. I just waited it out. I went for short little walks, sometimes I stretched, but mostly I did nothing active. And you know what? Little by little, my old energy started to come back. I've always had decent upper body strength, but I lost much of it during that time. I started with 3 push-ups before my arms felt like pudding and slowly worked my way back up to 30.


I craved yoga again. I started to handstand again. I also still rested a lot. And through it all, I was so very grateful for my body. 

The other day Rich and I were looking at a slideshow from 2014. We came across this photo (from this post):

We both gazed at it for a while, and then Rich said: "you look so young there!" My initial reaction was to be insulted - did he mean that I looked old now?! How dare he! But once my ego calmed down I realized that he was right. I did look young in that picture! I was 34, I had a few less bumps and bruises from life, and I hadn't entered the next stage of my life yet: middle-age. 

But now I have. And instead of buying into what the beauty industry is trying to sell us, which is that we have to feel bad about looking our age, I'm doing something rebellious: I continue to feel good about myself.   
The girl hanging from the tree still didn't know who she was. She was still so insecure. She still craved the approval from others in order to feel okay about herself.

I may have gained a few pounds and inches, but I also gained self-confidence, patience, love for myself and an inner peace that I didn't have at 34. Middle age is almost a dirty word, but it shouldn't be. It's a golden age where you leave the 'who the hell am I?'- confusion of your younger years behind before entering the stage where the aches and pains begin.
It's having the best of both worlds: confidence and energy without the ailments of old age. It's the time where we don't give a shit anymore about the opinion of other people, where we don't care about trends and wear what we want, where we have found our voice and are not afraid to use it.

And in my opinion, that far outweighs a bit of middle-age spread.

xoxo Miriam

Top photo from Pixabay



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6 comments

  1. Well done, Miriam! I love that you are a rebel against all the crazy "we are supposed to look like" propaganda. And welcome to the high waisted pant club... LOL. xox Elaine

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    1. Who knew that bending over without having to worry that your butt crack might show would feel so good haha? I'm a new and enthusiastic member of the high-waisted pant club!

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  2. Remember when we met? I was looong into this stage. The things that REALLY count, that are so important, are never things. Great, very excellent read. I hope many will ;-)

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    1. "The things that REALLY count, that are so important, are never things."
      Yes, yes and YES! You are so right Marijke. What a liberating stage to be in! I wouldn't trade it for being younger again for anything in the world.

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  3. I LOVE your attitude. Our bodies are an amazing machine and we need to be grateful for what it does for us at every stage. I was recently in a period of inactivity and I would have felt terrible about myself for that years ago, but I embraced it without guilt (and the loss of strength that comes with it) because it was what I needed at the time.

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    1. Cassie from www.wholefully.com once posted something about weight on her instagram (@wholefully), and it was so profound that I saved it and re-read it regularly.
      She has Lyme Disease, that's what she is referring to when she talks about being sick. Here is the full caption:

      "The major lesson I've learned from losing a ton of weight without trying: without much input from me, my body is going to level out at whatever weight it wants to level out at during any given season of my life.
      .
      This is why I hit my highest weight when I was pregnant even though I was throwing up pretty much every meal for 42 straight weeks. This is why, with my illness, I'm at my lowest weight as an adult even though I probably eat double the calories I did before I got sick.
      .
      Of course, I can do some things to "trick" my body into being a different size, but, in the end, my body's size isn't really up to me. The trickery I've done in the past (counting calories, counting points, counting carbs, counting pounds—so much counting) always felt like I was fighting against a current. It worked, but it was hard as hell.
      .
      And now I know why: when it comes to my body size, I just flat out don't have the power in the relationship. That's scary to admit, but also kinda freeing.
      .
      Where do I have the power? It's up to me what I put into my body. How I move my body. How much sleep I get. How much water I drink. How I handle stress. How I manage my mental health.
      .
      I can either choose to view those things as tools to manipulate my physical size or, what I'm learning is a much more fulfilling view, I can choose to use those things as agents of health and joy—weight on the scale be damned.
      .
      Looking back at my life and when I felt happiest and healthiest, I can correlate a body weight to those times. I fully expect once I am healed from this blasted illness, my body will rebound back there.
      .
      I was too blinded at the time by BMI charts and the desire to shop at "regular" stores and societal pressure to see how good that weight was for me. I hope this time when I do go back there as I'm sure I inevitably will, I can see and appreciate that number for what it is—my body's happy, healthy weight."

      I always remind myself of her words when body-guilt wants to hit - which, luckily, is happening less and less these days.

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