Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I quit gym because of my butt.

I was in the gym changeroom, when I caught sight of it.
My butt.
Reflecting from the mirror behind me, into the mirror in front of me. Holy crap, is that mine?
I was pulling off my work trousers so that I could squeeze into my uncomfortable, tight  gym pants, but I stopped undressing when I saw my bum’s reflection and I went right up to the mirror behind me to inspect.
It was so cellulitey and saggy. I was mildly happy to note it was not large, but it was indeed flabby. Not at all how I pictured it would look after all the hours of diet and exercise I have put in over the years.I have managed to avoid seeing my butt in a mirror thanks to the joyous convenience of online shopping, so this was the first time in about five years that I had really seen it.

I suddenly felt exhausted and had no desire to wrestle into my gym clothes. What for?  I have been watching what I eat and exercising since I was fifteen. I am now forty. That is twenty five years of trying. And my butt still looks like this? Quite simply, I could see, age and gravity were taking their toll. And there was nothing I could do about that.

I sank down on a change-room bench and just sat for a while. I wondered if my bum would have looked any worse without all the effort I have put into my body. I supposed it could have been fatter, possibly saggier, but otherwise I guessed my butt would have looked much the same regardless as there is nothing I can do about my genes. I even wondered if all those earlier years of jiggling around in the aerobics hall actually made it sag more? And then I thought of all the puddings, cakes, and salad dressings I have not eaten over the years, and how I get up at the crack of dawn to get to gym before work in the mornings, and yet still I am getting older and flabbier.
I wished I were one of those women who come to gym for “fun” because they love to exercise, but sadly I am not. My cousin Cindy, however,  is one of those. She is a triathlete-iron-woman something-or-other and she is constantly in the gym, or running or swimming. She lives to exercise but that is just not me. I only exercised to look good and that seemed to have back-fired, pun intended.

I rose slowly from the bench and then I pulled my work trousers back on, and carefully packed my lycra workout gear back into my gym back and then I went up to the reception desk and said to the lady there, “I’d like to cancel my gym contract please.”
 And then, “No I am not ill, nor am I moving away. I am just tired of gym. From now on I am going to just let whatever happens to my body, happen.”
I smiled when I said that and felt this incredible relaxation spread in my neck and shoulders.
 "Eish, seriously?" the receptionist asked me with big eyes.
I nodded and then she smiled right back at me, and quickly looked over her shoulder before she leaned in to me and said “Ag, sweetie, good for you! You know, I have worked here at this gym for ten years. Ten years I have seen ladies come here to exercise and you know what? They mostly look the same as they did the day they first joined the gym. Oh, sometimes one of them might lose a bit on this diet or that, but they always gain it back, plus some. And let me tell you, they all age, just as we all will. You go enjoy yourself my dear, and enjoy your free time.”
“Well, thank you,” I said and felt like a bird flying from it's cage as I walked out the gym door.

And then, seeing as I had a whole hour free before work, I drove across the road to the Mugg n Bean and ordered a slice of their Rich Dark Chocolate cake (for breakfast!) which I had with a cremoccino.  I ate that cake slowly, savouring each bite. And as I ate, I decided that from then on I would never again order food I didn’t really want just because it was “healthy”. No, I decided that from then on if I had a salad it would be with dressing. And avo and bacon too! I would have cheesey sauces with my steak and creamy pastas full of butter. From now on I would eat real food and I would enjoy it. I had deprived myself since I was a chubby teen, desperate to be thin and fit in, and now it was time for me to be good to myself.

I thought about the groceries I needed to get that evening after work and I mentally changed my whole list. No skim milk, I would buy full cream. No more sour-tasting fat free yoghurt but double-cream Greek!  And I would buy real butter for the first time in my whole life ever. I tingled with anticipation.
And then I panicked. But what about finding a man? If I just give in and probably get fatter, would I ever attract a man? I was no spring chicken after all. But then again, I had been divorced and single for over ten years now, even with all my efforts to look a certain way so perhaps it was time to just let go? And then I thought about Daisy, a woman in my office who is fifty-something and dating (get this!) a thirty-two year old man. And Daisy is not your typical cougar, all taut-bodied and botoxed, oh no she isn’t. She is round and soft and and wrinkled and she enjoys her food. She says Dave loves her because she is so easy to be with and he can just relax and be himself with her.

Then I stopped eating my cake, because I realised I was full. Well how about that? I had never, ever, not once, left cake. I didn’t even know I could. Usually I am so full of food-guilt that I stuff the whole piece down in five minutes without even really tasting it. But this savouring has been wonderful. I asked for a take-away (wow, look at me) and an inner knowing came to me that I didn’t want a man who loved me for how I looked anyway. No, I wanted to fall in love truly, and have that man love me truly. For my soul. For my insides. Not because I had defied my age and had a butt like steel.
As I got into my car to go to work, I felt like singing. I put my favourite CD on loud in the car and started bopping along to the music. Jeepers, when last had I just danced for fun?
It’s a full year of no gym and dieting later, and I wish I could tell you that I magically lost five pounds now that I am not stressing about my weight anymore, but of course that isn’t how it works. Nope, in fact I have gained some weight. I have no idea how much as I haven’t weighed myself but I have gone up about a dress size and seem to have settled there. What I can tell you is that I have so much more mental space now without the constant calories in vs calories out calculations that I used to do daily in my head, that my dress size doesn’t matter.

I also recently read an article in the paper about the “Noakes” diet or the Low Carb High Fat diet where fat is actually considered good for you (imagine that!), and where you actually lose weight eating fat, and I had to chuckle to myself because it seems no one actually knows what is really good for you. Next thing they’ll say it’s it's the bloody veggies that are bad for you, blah blah blah. All I can say is that I am no longer denying myself anything. Not fat or sugar or carbs or meat. I figure I only have about 30 or so good years left on this planet, so I will let the experts wage their debates, but I will eat what I like and stop when I’m full.  I am all about enjoyment and moderation these days.
And I surprised myself by signing up nine months ago for a local salsa class, which I look forward to all week! So it turns out that I don’t mind exercise after all, when it’s fun.
But best of all is Richard, the man I met at salsa-class. He is balding, wrinkled and pot-bellied and I simply adore him. I think he adores me too. We have only been dating for a few months, but we just laugh and enjoy ourselves when we’re together, which is really what it should be all about.  On our first date he said to me “It’s so refreshing to see a woman who tucks into her meal and who orders dessert!”
“Cheers to that,” I remember saying, and we clinked our wine glasses.

No comments:

Post a Comment