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I did something that took some nerve yesterday. I looked at myself naked in a full length mirror. Frontal and side view. I’ve avoided doing it for years and I finally got tired of being such a coward and did the deed. I looked.
It was disturbing but also liberating. I’m sixty five years old; age is happening to my body. I won't be one of those people who cling to youth with frantic denial. I want to enjoy being a cranky old man who groans and says "Fech!" Things could be much worse. All the flab has settled around my mid-section, leaving my shoulders, arms and legs looking okay.. I weigh two
hundred and stand five foot eight. I “carry my weight well”, so I’ve been told. I’m not a waddling fire plug. I’m more like a bear or a gorilla. These creatures don’t have tapering waistlines.
It’s the fault of the medications. That’s what I tell myself. The medicines changed my metabolism. I got heavy after I started taking the medications for my leg neuropathy and ...all those other things.
Forget the compulsive bed-time eating, the appetite for Reese’s Pieces and
Nestle’s Crunch. Never mind the yum yum indulgence of putting peanut butter on Ritz Crackers and tossing down half a roll. I ride a bicycle every day, three sixty five. I know, you hate me. I also do a daily yoga practice. I know, you hate me even more.
It’s a case of good disciplines counteracting bad habits.
I am a disciplined compulsive. Is that a paradox? Try living with it.
Is anyone else like this? Is anyone locked in a struggle between the rational and irrational parts of themselves? I’m killing myself while saving my life. I’m a suicidal yogi health food candy addict.
I practice aerobic “spinning”. I sweat hard and push myself until I’m panting .
My treadmill test indicated that I am free of heart disease.
How do I live with myself?
Tolerantly. Very tolerantly.
Am I the only baby boomer with a past full of addictions and recoveries?
Am I the only sixty-something with chronic pain in at least two parts of my body?
Am I the only man who feels conned and imprisoned by the pharmaceutical companies because I have to take meds for blood pressure, depression and physical pain? These meds have saved and restored my quality of life. They’ve also made me a prisoner.
I feel as if I’ve loaned out my body as a lab rat and everything will stay cool as long as I keep running on the treadmill.
My belly’s been large for twenty years. I’m a husky strong man. What will body shame get me? Nothing. Avoiding my reflection in the mirror is absurd., I don’t know what I really look like. Each gaze into my reflected image is so loaded with ingrained value judgments, fantasies and delusions that it’s pointless to obsess on my appearance. I just don’t know and never will know what I look like. Furthermore, I don’t look the same to any two people. Nothing does! So what the fuck?
I’ve made a deal with my belly. I talk to it. Belly, I say, you are a part of me, you are a product of genetics, lifestyle and a thousand other factors. You and I will have have to get along. Let’s be friends. It’s obvious you’re not going anywhere.
So, belly, how ya doin’ today? No pain? That’s good. Let’s go for a ride.