Photo by AllGo - An App For Plus Size People on Unsplash

I might as well make friends with it.

Melissa grinned at me. We were cooking dinner, her cats curving around our legs, and Carl the enormous (overweight) dog bumping up against my knees.

I’m staying with her for a few days back in Denver while my house closes. I am juggling inspections, appraisals, final moving details and other stress-inducing actions.

Anyone who has ever simultaneously sold and bought a house, while stretched across half the country, can relate. Holy shit.

The words “stress eating” come to mind. The other day, en route to a visit with a friend, I gormed two Krispy Kreme donuts. Sick for two days. More stress. I know better. Still.

Melissa and I have been close friends for seven years. We met when I started using the Thai Massage School in Denver to get my massages. When she graduated, I followed her.

Her mother, who died some time ago, was a tiny round woman at 170 lbs and just over five feet when Melissa’s father died. Within a year, her mom was barely 100 lbs. She was in her eighties. Suddenly, if her weight inched over 100, she would stop eating. She was on the scale every morning before coffee.

Even in our eighth decade, we do this. As if.

As if her new itty bitty body was the single biggest accomplishment in her life.

(I might argue, although the mother and I never met, that Melissa was, but I’m prejudiced)

Melissa couldn’t dissuade her. After her mom died, Melissa, who is built with a belly and slim hips just like her mother, kept right on obsessing about her stomach. Just like her mom did all her life.

Of course she did.

Just like I have worried and obsessed about my body all my life just like my Mom did. After she had kids, and her stick-thin body no longer allowed her to eat anything and everything without consequence.

Of course I did.

Two days ago Melissa told me that she’s been doing some work to strengthen her bones. Hard work pays off.

“I lost an inch,” she said proudly.

I’ve known Melissa long enough to know how often that same inch has come and gone, the same way one or two of mine have done the same thing.

If you’re over fifty and have ever carried more weight or size or both than you like, chances are you’ve been through enough sizes to outfit the entire cast of Hamilton. I sure have.

As she heated cream for her coffee in the Buddha cup I’d given her, Melissa joked about that inch. Her belly, actually. She’s never been svelte, never had a super-slim waist.

Never will. Not without major surgery, which is not only damned dangerous but also painful. And it’s highly unlikely her waist is going to be what she’s always wanted. Not at this age. My own mother had liposuction in her seventies.

Nobody could tell the difference, after all that pain.

My mother pined for her twenty-year-old, roaring Twenties, stick-thin body. Not gonna happen.

Before I moved to Eugene, I wrote about various women who were fellow members of my (now-closed) 24-Hour fitness. Here’s one:

Be Like Barb
A story about being 73, imperfect, and perfectly happy keeping your gym resolutions every year

You and Melissa and I can run after unreachable perfection our entire lives. We can chase the chimera until our deathbeds and be forever frustrated and unhappy with the body that we were born with. We can fight Mother Nature, who knew precisely what she was doing when She made us.

Or you and I, as Melissa said with her perpetual good humor, can make peace with our bellies (or butts or swimmer’s shoulders or our mother’s hook noses).

Those people who are happiest do indeed make peace. They exercise to strengthen the body they have, not to beat the holy shit out of themselves for the body they will never have.

While there is solid argument to find a good weight for our height, like my ex-gymnast friend Barb, the wait for the waist of our youth is indeed wasted time, energy and investment.

Melissa has a body type that simply doesn’t lend itself to a tiny waist.

The “ideal” body that is shoved at us, those of the fitness models and the less-than -1% of society that is so outside the norm that they get massive modeling contracts and are then further airbrushed, are zoo-quality….. Lovely, yes. Not us.

There is such freedom in being able to settle into the skin we were given, work to keep it healthy for life, and embrace the belly or butt that defines who we are.

Melissa has finally reached the point where the belly onto which her cats curl into comfortable warm fuzzballs is just fine as it is. Something to be said for purr-fection.

Photo by Jonas Vincent on Unsplash