As a lover of all things old and odd that can be found on Netflix, last night I started watching a 1976 mini-series based on the Irwin Shaw’s book, Rich Man Poor Man whichI vaguely remember reading as a teenager under a boyfriend’s recommendation. At one point, the father of the Jordache brothers accuses his wife of being an old-looking 40 year old. I gasped. 40? I thought she was meant to be 60. Without the benefits of filter lighting, fillers or cosmetic surgery, the actress looked all of her maybe 45 to 50 years but I assumed she was much older, conditioned as I am to see only wrinkle-free faces on the screen.
The not so fleeting thought has occurred to me that, for the last 40 of my 53 years, not a day has probably gone by that I haven’t worried about my weight/skin/hair/boobs or whatever. And I am a fairly attractive woman who never had a weight problem, my only misfortune being growing up at a time when the boundaries of beauty and youthfulness have been pushed to impossible limits.
The reason the thought would not dislodge from my brain had to do with my bathroom scale. When I hopped on it this morning, I stared at it with incredulity. Surrounded as I am by menopausal girlfriends battling muffin tops and other unwelcome fat deposits on various body parts, I feel awkward discussing my current plight: I cannot put weight on. The last time I clocked this weight, I was probably 17. My tightest jeans are all looking at least half a size too big. If you had never met me before, you wouldn’t think I looked sick or anorexic, saved as I am by muscle, but you would describe me as “that thin woman”.
On an aesthetic level, my litheness does my collagen lacking face no favors. But, vanity aside, I have been asking myself what the heck is wrong with me. I eat three meals a day, regular portions – I don’t do cleanses or diets or meal skipping. Yet, my body resembles Gwyneth Paltrow’s, without the exquisite bone structure. Having just gotten over the hump of a deadly disease, I might be forgiven for worrying.
So it was with some trepidation that I went for a blood test and, a week later, to see my oncologist.
“Your blood looks wonderful. You are fine, not lacking anything” she tells me.
“I lost weight since the last time I saw you – could it be the Tamoxifen?” I ask.
She looks at me from under her glasses. It’s more like a lady-have-you-lost-your-mind-smirk.
“You would be one in a million. Everybody puts weight on with Tamoxifen.”
“Maybe I am that one in a million?” I insist
“Could it be you are eating too healthy?” she offers instead.
As a matter of fact, yes, it could. Since eliminating processed sugar from my diet, many carbs and fats have also bit the dust. If I examine my diet carefully, I have been consuming mostly lean proteins, vegetables, grains and beans.
I left the oncologist’s office positively relieved and, to celebrate the good news, I stopped at a bakery where I consumed a cream croissant and a chocolate croissant in rapid order. I know, not exactly the right approach, but allow me to celebrate in style. Never mind that the sugar rush translated in:
driving much too fast on the coast highway, with the music much too loud right under the nose of a policeman who, in gallant fashion, let the crazed middle-aged woman slide;
a headache of horrid proportions that took three large glasses of water to dispel.
So, it turns out there is such a thing as eating too healthy and it is not necessarily good. I am not planning to eat sugar on a regular basis again but I will be milling more often around the cheese counter and making more of my favorite pastas.
I also read on sofagirl’s FB page that gin erases wrinkles. Might give that a try too.
Or, finally, I might give the body obsession a rest. How would that be for a positive change?
Top image courtesy of Lolly Galli