As of a week ago, I am a 42 year old woman. A 42 year old woman who, admittedly, is starting to have some wild hormone changes. I am no spring chicken anymore, I realize that. I also realize that no matter how hard I work out or how much I work at making good food choices, for my body, there is only so small I can get. I still wear a size 2, for God’s sake so why in the world am I still so hard on myself to get my bikini body back??
Ha ha – that even sounds funny to say – bikini body. I really only had one for ohhhh, about 2 years of my entire life. Short, squatty, short waisted does not usually translate into flat tummy, unless you are so kind of muscular gymnast or waif, which I never have been either nor wanted to be. I have always struggled with my weight but also been proud to be smaller than a lot of people. Then, my 40 birthday was in sight and I found myself in the best shape of my life. Knowledge is power and I put it to good use and the next thing I know, I had a goal for my 40th birthday of getting into a bikini for the 1st time in my life. My husband is the one who encouraged me because let’s face it, who sees me naked more than he does? He pointed out several times that not only could I pull it off, but would look damn good so at 39 and 7 months old, I went on the trip of a lifetime with my mom and brother and strutted around a Carnival cruise ship looking like this:
Ideal super model? Absolutely not. You can still see my short little torso but this is about 105 pounds and 21% body fat, the lowest of both in my life. You can see the outline of some abs under there but I think I still look like a normal person. I was healthy, happy and incredibly proud of my accomplishment.
I kept that up for about 2 years and just recently, that body fat and weight has started to creep up again. Apparently, that is “normal” for someone my age as this chart below shows:
As of this morning, I am at 23.6% body fat which for a 42 year old, is bordering right between Lean and Ideal. Who wouldn’t be thrilled with that?
Me. The person who used to be 21% body fat. Is my weight that much different? Sure, a little bit but so few people pay attention to body fat and people who weigh exactly the same can look so completely different if they are at different body fats so I monitor both. Here is a sampling of what women generally look like at various body fat levels:
25% still looks freaking awesome, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want a body like that?? Well, that girl has one long torso so she can carry that extra body fat around a little bit better but for me, it just looks like one giant pouch right in front that won’t go away. No matter how many sit ups, crunches, twists, planks or cardio I do.
OK, that’s not true. I COULD work out more, I could put more time and energy into but at some point, you have to find a happy balance in your life between maintaining your health and actually having a life. What is the tipping point between taking care of yourself and being obsessed? The MOST important things should be markers like blood work, heart health, physical fitness and ability to do all of the things you want to do without feeling overworked, uncomfortable or in pain. NOT how you look in a bikini, so that is what I need to keep telling myself that every, single day.
My 20s and 30s are long gone and I am having a damn good start to the 40s – I am happier and healthier than most so I need to keep having fun working out, challenging myself, but I also need to step away from the guilty and disappointment over something that really doesn’t matter except to my own vanity. Given the images we see in the media – on TV, in magazines, movies, it really isn’t a wonder why we can be so hard on ourselves.
I watched a movie this weekend called Men, Women and Children by Jason Reitman and a couple of the girls in the movie were so crazy skinny, it made me sad thinking other girls could see this and think they NEED to look this way. Of course, part of the plot line of one was her obsession to be thin and all of the resources out there on the Internet that encourage girls to not eat, to look like sticks and anyone who isn’t is a gluttonous pig. I guess I was lucky we didn’t have quite those extremes growing up but that information and encouragement is out there now, if someone is looking for it.
So, for now, I am going to work on myself – mentally adjusting to what I look like, knowing it doesn’t define who I am. I will never give up on my workouts until my poor body just can’t keep up anymore and with God’s grace, that will be a long, LONG time from now!