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Mirror

I’ve been feeling crappy lately, physically speaking. Well, I’ve been feeling crappy emotionally as well. In my world, a messy emotional state leads to messy eating, which leads to me feeling physically crappy. Vicious circle, clearly.

At the end of last year, I had made some progress toward minimizing my sugar intake, even over the holidays. I don’t know that I lost any weight, but I certainly felt better. Lately, I’ve been using sugar again to pacify my stress. Dessert has become a nightly routine instead of an occasional treat, and snacks that are supposedly “for the kids” get nibbled on in passing.

Yesterday I saw a picture of myself taken last summer and realized just how much weight I’ve gained since. Not good. I feel terrible about it – terrible about myself. I’m so tired of feeling terrible about myself. I’ve been struggling with my weight and my self-image nearly my entire life. It seems like I have never managed to have all of the pieces in place at the same time. While I’ve had times when I’ve successfully gotten down to a reasonable weight, I still hadn’t reached a place where I was happy with my face… I still felt inadequate. Now, at nearly 45, I am mostly happy with my face. I can look in the mirror from the shoulders up and see more pluses than minuses, which is a gift. A valuable one. The timing is once again off, though, because while I am happy with my face, I am so uncomfortable with my body that I cringe at the sight of myself. I am not even entirely comfortable alone, which sucks. I want to be able to like all of me – soul, body and face – at the same time. Seems like it shouldn’t be too much to ask.

At almost 45, I feel like I’m running out of time. In the past, when I was overweight I always told myself I had plenty of time to get my act together. I don’t feel that way now. The truth is, as much as I want to get healthy and feel better (the noble reasons for losing weight), I also want to look great. Not just to myself, or to my husband (who thankfully thinks I’m beautiful no matter what), but to the world in general. This sounds embarrassingly vain, but it’s the truth. I’m not one of those girls who can look back and remember how hot I was in high school. I wasn’t hot. I was overweight and a late bloomer… those were not my best years. Even in college, I was the girl who was constantly being asked about my beautiful friends. Men would approach me at clubs for the sole purpose of asking me about my friends. So much fun. I did have gorgeous friends, but the question still got old. Everyone wants to be the beautiful one sometimes.

We’ve all heard the theory is that “40 is the new 30,” but I’m almost 45, which seems a whole lot closer to 50. How many women over 50 are still described as hot? (Women who are not movie stars with access to an army of dermatologists, plastic surgeons, etc.) “Attractive for her age” is a phrase I hear a lot (not leveled at myself specifically, but at women over 50 in general). That’s not what I want, a compliment with qualifiers attached. Obviously, there are women over 50 who manage to defy time and this generalization. If you are one of them, please don’t be offended. And congratulations! The truth is, I would like to be hot, even if it’s just for a brief window of time. I know this sounds shallow, but I’ve never had that experience. I’ve never been able to view myself that way, and as far as I know have never been viewed that way. I would like a chance to know what that feels like before I’m too old for it to be possible. Yes, admitting that I feel this way is embarrassing. I tell myself it’s not important and that it shouldn’t matter. But it does matter, and telling myself how I should or shouldn’t feel doesn’t change that. Vanity feels like a dirty little secret, something I shouldn’t be acknowledging publicly. Looking good is valued – hyper-valued, even – but as women we’re not supposed to admit how much it matters to us, or we’re shallow.

With everything that has gone catastrophically wrong in my financial world in the last five years, it feels even almost shameful to admit that in the midst of all this stress I can still manage to obsess about something as seemingly insignificant as how I look. And yet, I obviously can. Maybe it’s because this seems like something that should be within my control. I can’t control whether potential employers take my resume seriously, but I am the only one who decides what I eat, how much I eat and whether or not I get off my butt and exercise. It’s all on me… there is no one else to blame. So if I don’t like what I see when I look in the mirror, that’s on me as well. My reflection is the direct result of the choices I make, every day.

So here I am, at almost 45, still trying to get my act together. I need to get my diet under control, in particular the amount of sugar I’m eating. I need to figure out an exercise routine I can stick with. I also need to learn to be self-motivated. I’ve typically been most successful with weight loss when there is an external motivation driving me (a big vacation or event… that kind of thing). I need to learn to find the motivation from within, because ultimately that’s the only thing that will keep working… to 50, and beyond.

So there it is. Don’t judge me, okay?

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