I drove my son to work early this morning then headed into town to do some shopping, or rather to mooch around. Since I have retired I have to count the pennies, so sitting down to have a coffee (and the slice of cake that goes with it) is a luxury I can no longer afford. I did buy myself a T shirt as I'll be going to Spain in May with my man.
Interestingly, I bought an XL size, knowing for now that comfort is more important than vanity. Me - an XL size. How ghastly. Food for thought.
This XL (extra large, hell, not even plain old 'large') awareness was a comfort in a way, given that today my jeans felt SO tight and uncomfortable. Movement was....well, not pleasant. I felt trussed up. My size 20 (UK 20) blue jeans are just too small and I must accept it. Again. I felt like a stuffed turkey bursting out of it's plastic wrapping. Everything was stretched tightly over my horrible, misshapen frame, and I felt, well - freakish - even though I'd tried to coordinate my clothes to look good, wore jewellery and make-up. My hair was freshly cut and looked neat, but still I felt middle-aged, fat and...no, not invisible but as though I had a huge, luminous arrow pointer over my head, following me around, marking the movements of "The Woman Who Is Bigger Than You". I am the big, pregnant-looking middle-aged woman. People stare and I feel SO self-conscious. I wore pop socks folded around my ankles, (the Norah Batty look because I didn't want the elastic digging into my calves, and the bulge would have shown under my silly, straight-legged jeans) blue (stretchy, elasticated waist) jeans and a grey T shirt that rode up over my hideously large abdomen when I moved. Ugh! The little blue cotton jacket which used to fit wouldn't do up around my body but I thought the long, silky scarf I draped round my neck would hang and the gap wouldn't be so obvious, and my black court shoes with little heel were uncomfortable. I just wanted to get home and put on something baggy and comfortable.
It would be so easy to accept my shape and live in huge, shapeless, loose garments. I could become Kaftan Woman. I could dress like the late Mama Cass. I like the idea of flowing voluminous swathes of material hiding the stumpy fat frame that is my body. Sounds good. No worries about what to wear each day. Right now, I DO accept my shape, but how I am kicking myself that I allowed myself to become so fat. With hindsight I can say I should have tried to improve my fitness even though I was without energy and ill a few years ago. If only I knew then what I know now I think I would have been striving not to gain weight. It's easy to put on, but so hard to lose.
I was a smallish rounded woman when I worked - well padded but certainly not fat, not wobbly and blobby as I am now, and much admired about twelve/fifteen years ago. Those were my attractive days, post divorce, out of an unhappy marriage, bringing up children, seeing my career take off and getting lots of male approval. In fact I had some VERY good years between 1996 and 2003. I had what I felt was a new lease of life. Then I became ill - wham! We do take our health for granted. Now mid-fifties I feel old in body (not head!) and very fat and most unattractive (although my partner tells me I am pretty, bless him.) I still feel fiesty though and in my head, I'm invincible, although I know I am not. (Vulnerable would be a better word.) Put me down at your peril, world!
I ask myself - "WHY didn't you do something about it in 2008 when you began to mend? Why did you allow the slide into obesity, why didn't you vow to keep your fitness? You have more time to yourself now. WHY didn't you walk...love yourself...keep active?" Today I beat myself up in the same way. Here is a brand new day. What will I do with it?
'Not a lot' I hear that little voice in my head answer back. I have a glorious day in which to wallow, be self-indulgent. It stretches before me and unlike the decades before, it's a pretty hassle-free time. Bliss.
I think the truth is, if I carry on doing little and sitting about, I'll descend into immobility, and that thought terrifies me. I like being able to stride out...to walk, to bend...to weed the garden etc. OK, so through illness since 2003 - one blasted thing after another - movement WAS restricted and doing too much WAS painful, and I was drugged up to the eyeballs, so felt lethargic, but now I feel youngish still, in my head, and my face isn't too bad. I can claw back my vitality now I have had that last restorative operation. I CAN! (If I want to that is.....)
Trouble is, the whole aging process takes it's toll. We do slow down, lose strength and energy and our frames weaken. We deteriorate with age. That's frightening. I don't want to be an OLD person. I am still a girl - in my head.
TODAY and the years ahead...what do they hold? I have been thinking about them. I use it or lose it. I am growing older, I am middle aged, yet my stupid, stupid self-sabotage - my insistance this is ME time, an antidote to the incredible stresses and strains I bore over the last thirty years, that I shouldn't do anything that makes me uncomfortable, that I CAN be self-indulgent and have a right to be now I have retired from what was a stressful job, is bringing me down, making me a lesser woman.
Why isn't my retirement a time for self-improvement? I dunno.
Attitude. My attitude lets me down. From today onwards (perhaps, may be) I shall use it as I don't want to lose it. Wish I had thought about this years ago when the weight started creeping on. How will I look five years from now if I don't try to halt the decline...the march of time...or in my case...the slothful, inactive waste of precious days?
My life is precious, and so is yours, but life slips away. Self-talk needed. Enjoy it, use it and feel good about yourself. You are worth it. (Now, I should toss back my head and let my hair fly loose, and flounce away from the PC, as in the hair spray adverts.)
What will tomorrow bring? What will the rest of today bring? More of the same, or a new determination? Hmmm. Determination sounds like hard work. How much do I want a healthy, active body?
I need activity more than I need a diet. OK, so I do need to tinker with my meals, eat smaller portions, include more fruits and vegetables and I need to stop snacking but more than anything I need to build activity into my days. I am trying to convince myself that a walk round the block will be interesting rather than boring. My body will thank me as long as I don't sit down and enjoy sedentary pastimes for the rest of the day. If every time I walked round the block I picked up a one pound coin, I'd probably do at least ten laps! Incentive. How do you find the incentive to move? How can I motivate myself to be active? I hate gyms. I loathe them for all sorts of reasons, so I think walking is the way forward for me.
I know the theory. How on earth do I put it into practice?