It is just not fair. FOOD and AGING. Once you get older and the kids are out on their own, you find yourself in an empty nest with more time and money. So you become a little more interested in food and then you start to make up for all the fancy treats you passed up when you were younger and poorer. Money spent on braces or college funds can now be spent on restaurants. Retired or near-retired, you can fill up your extra time preparing the more elaborate dishes you were too rushed to fix when you drove the soccer car pool. Perhaps you now entertain more – spending the evening relishing gourmet entrees and desserts with friends. Whole evenings may be devoted to savoring luscious meals that you never had time for when there were high chairs or booster seats around the table. Days of spilled milk and messy bibs are long gone.
Once you hit 50 or 60 food becomes a more important part of your life, a reward even. You got the kids into their first cars and helped plan their weddings, now it’s time to spend some of that hard-earned money on yourself and as often as not, that ends up being romantic and expensive restaurant dinners for two. You may even notice that making plans with friends now often centers on the quality of refreshments to be served.
Then it hits you, the cosmic injustice of it all, just when you’ve begun to revel in these delicious meals that compensate for aging – your metabolism slows down…way…down.
Having dessert every day leads not just to a smile but a spare tire. Rich meals pack on weight where you never carried it before. Even with regular walking, you notice the numbers on the scale creeping up and up. Fair? I think not! If only we were able to hang on to the speedy metabolism of our earlier days!
I had been grumbling about this injustice but I was recently struck with a couple of epiphanies and while these aren’t the all too common weight loss tips, they’ve certainly helped me put this whole getting older thing into perspective.
I have a very pretty, five-foot tall, gregarious sister-in-law who just happened to be severely obese until recently. Now she wears figure-hugging size fours, instead of maternity tops and elastic-waist pants. Although we were close when our kids were small, my family and hers rarely get together now. I was reminiscing one day with my daughter, Willow, about how her Aunt Lydia doted on her, making special trips just to buy those expensive tiny cake mixes for an Easy Bake oven so they could spend the afternoon creating frosted desserts. “Remember how heavy Aunt Lydia used to be? How she tried so many diets?” I asked. But Willow was puzzled. “No, I don’t remember that…” she said slowly.
The lesson hit me hard – my Oprah LIGHT BULB MOMENT. An innocent child had responded only to the love and generosity shown her – rather than judging another on the basis of her appearance. How could I, as her mother, do any less? I’m happy that Lydia has the figure she’s always craved. I envy her decorating and sewing skills, as well as her ability to put even strangers at ease with comfortable small talk. She probably has a cleaner house than anyone I know. So what if she used to weigh 300 pounds? Why do we often comment on that fact first?
Since I’ve made the conscious decision to stop judging others based on their weight, I certainly shouldn’t be judging myself!
I had another light bulb moment recently. My mother never puts her snapshots into an album. She “shoe boxes” them by year and can quickly pull out any photo she’s looking for. One of her trademarks is to include an old photo inside the birthday card she sends to each of her children and grandchildren. I was the lucky recipient of a 30-year-old snapshot on my last birthday. The picture captured the first golf cart ride my husband and I enjoyed together on vacation in Virginia with my parents. Wade and I were stunned at our appearance from so long ago – all angles and collar bones – two beanpoles in clingy shorts and T-shirts! The old photo showed two geeks who were way too thin. It was ironic because we had recently been moaning about trying to lose weight. It’s easy to imagine that Wade and I would each look better at 20 pounds lighter. Not so. While we clearly don’t want to increase our current weight, the photo proved that in our lives we have actually been so skinny that we looked ridiculous! This experience has helped me to be kinder and more accepting of myself. I realize that I am now healthier and fitter than I was at 25!
Remember those “You’re not getting older…you’re getting better” Clairol ads? They are true after all! Thank goodness! Maybe I can handle this slower metabolism thing after all!