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Weight Gain in Middle Age (a.k.a. “The Creep”)

Reboot Camp Report #1: How Did I Get Here?

They say that the first step to recovery is admitting you’ve got a problem. So I admit it. I’ve got a weight problem. I haven’t always been so willing to say it out loud, though. 

Have you ever blamed your dry cleaner for your weight gain? I have. “Oh, crap — the cleaners must have shrunk another skirt!” I’ve also blamed my washer/dryer: “Why does the factory set those temperatures so hot? Anything would shrink in that heat!” And I’ve blamed the clothes themselves: “The label said it was pre-shrunk — like hell it was.”

Of course, these things are rarely to blame for an ill-fitting wardrobe. The real culprit? Call it “The Creep” — a slow, steady, extra pound or five or ten over the course of a year. Add up those years, and you go from a size six to a size… well, I’ll get to that.

When it comes to weight gain and loss, I’m probably pretty normal. I’ve never been one of those lucky souls who seem able to “will away” extra pounds, but in years past I never had to diet more than a couple of months to get back into a little black dress.

That may have changed, however. The Creep has a new partner in crime, and her name is Middle Age. And with me as their silent accomplice, something quite icky has happened, very quickly. Seven years ago, at the time of my second marriage, I was a slim size 8. See how healthy and fit I look in this picture?

But last year, I bought my first size 14 skirt (cute as a button, but still a 14). In fact, it turns out that I gained 35 pounds in seven years. And more than twenty of those pounds glommed onto my body in the last three years. Oh, crap.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

In the last few years, “The Creep” has turned into “The Sprint.”

This didn’t happen overnight, and it wasn’t caused by one thing. A few factors have played a key role here. Some of them are not entirely within my control. Others are all on me:

I’ve eaten a lot of food, not all of it healthy. People I LOVE to eat. I love cheap food, I love gourmet delicacies. I love the salty and the sweet. I  My husband does all the healthy cooking in our home, and I’ve often proclaimed that if it weren’t for him I’d be one big walking Cheeto. If he’s not cooking, I go straight for convenience. Salt, sugar, major refined carbs — that’s been the ticket for me. Even though we actually have locally grown organic vegetables regularly delivered to our home, I would always choose a pretzel (smothered in melted cheese) over a piece of broccoli. 

Adding fuel to that fire, I never eat breakfast, and I love a late night meal. I am told this is a decided no-no. Breakfast — “the most important meal of the day” — gets the metabolism going. And the calories inhaled right before bed aren’t fueling my day — they’re just finding a home on my thighs while I sleep.

I have Hypothyroidism. For real. Three years ago — around the time the weight really started to pile on, my annual physical revealed that my thyroid had… Just. Stopped. Working. The thyroid controls our metabolism. And if we’re not metabolizing food into energy, we pack on the pounds — fast. There are meds for this (I’m on ’em, every day), but they don’t necessarily help with weight loss. Because this is actually a pretty common condition for women as they age, I’ll be covering hypothyroidism in at least one future post. 

I am in the throes of perimenopause. This, of course, happens to all women who live past child-bearing years. And men are certainly also subject to “middle-aged spread.” But the factors that impact women are unique in some ways. Changes in estrogen and cortisol levels, insulin resistance, inflammation, generally point to a complex set of mid-life issues that impact weight gain. 

Inertia is my middle name. I have never, ever, ever liked to exercise. Ever. I used to joke that “my idea of exercise is running for the bus,” but the truth is, I’d rather just wait for the next bus to come. My “condition” has only gotten worse since I started working from home, seven years ago. 

A typical day consists of rolling out of bed, starting the coffeemaker, and shuffling into my office — a grand total of 20 steps. Sure, most mornings I actually do about 15 minutes of Kundalini yoga to stretch and rev up — it feels fabulous — but it’s not even remotely strenuous. And once I’m behind my desk, I’m there for the next 8 hours, moving only to use the bathroom or eat food. So let’s add another 40 steps to my day’s total. In the evening, I’ll walk back and forth from my office to the living room, again with stops in the kitchen. And consider this: our house is less than 1000 square feet. 

Seriously, I’ve gone days in a row like this. I’ve gone weeks in which my only exercise has consisted of strolling the supermarket aisles, picking up more pretzels and cheese. I had a few months of honest exercise at the start of the BSP with trainer Billy Joe Young — trust me when I tell you’ve I’ve reached out to him again. 

So there it is, the first step to recovery. My admission, so to speak. This is where I am, and a glimpse of how I got here.

Want another glimpse? Well then here’s a small *glimpse* of the before pictures. I WILL eventually post them all on this blog, coupled with the “after” shots. All I’m gonna ask is please, please, please — I do NOT want to see this on Pinterest! 🙂

Nuff Said. Let’s Reboot This Bootie!

Next Reboot Camp Post: Choosing a Diet and Tracking Initial Progress.

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4 thoughts on “Weight Gain in Middle Age (a.k.a. “The Creep”)

  1. You just explained what I’ve been experiencing around my middle. I just turned 48, and I feel like someone wrapped my middle with a thick beach towel or something…something like seal blubber. Your “WTF?” on the chart is an understatement! Great post, fun site.

  2. Do not feel bad about the weight gain…….too much…..I WAS down to (for my large size) a reasonable 250 in 2008. THEN I HAD to play Austin’s Favorite new Pedestrian Game called DodgeCAR!!!! This resulted in the tearing a significant section of the inner, right menuiscus in my knee. This significantly (that is to say for 2½ weeks I could barely walk) reduced my mobility for almost a full year. This led to a REAL increase in my MASS. I am finally able to get around somewhat better, though almost always in a moderate to significant amount of pain. As for walking, I figure I walk about 8,000-10,000 steps a night. That translates to about 3½-5 miles a night, wheeling around 95-135+, 200-300 pound stacks of 6½-8 foot high of bread and bread related products, 5 nights a week. And factor in the 12-20 tons worth of moving, down/up stacking and redistribution of said products, you’d think I’d be losing some of this weight…..but Not as much as I would like. Though I have to admit the 2 liters of soda a night was not helping!! Have since killed the soda and TRYING to get back to my high protein, low carb lifestyle but it IS EXPENSIVE!! ALL that said, you have my empathy and Support. I am working on getting back to below the Dreaded 3 hundred-something pound range!!
    Jamie of the HAT

    ~(

  3. Love it Jean. Astounding chart – I would never have the courage – moreover, the details! And by the way, didn’t you feel chunky at those previous highs, and don’t they look good to you now? Be my WW buddy? Am fighting off the chemo weight – lost 8 of the 20, but still 12 to get back to feeling fat, 20 to get back to where I should be…

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