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When do we stop fighting the battle of the bulge?

When does vanity stop? For about a year I decided I was over it. I was tired of the battle between looking good and eating stuff that tasted good. Don't get me wrong. I've had this struggle before... dozens of times. I shifted sides so often over the years that there were times I was confused which side of the battle I was on. About a year ago I decided I had chosen sides. And I was going to stick resolutely to the eat what you love side and damn the bulges. I thought a lot about about Ginger Rogers. Maybe you don't remember Ginger but if you do you remember her from movies of the '30s she was this willowy actress/ dancer who danced fantastically with Fred Astaire. She's no longer with us. But I caught her in a movie when she was well into her seventies. OMG! She was fat. I mean seriously fat. Now I'm not saying I was willing to be seriously fat. I'm not so devoid of vanity and I do have a desire to stay in good health  so I don't mean I was willing to let myself go utterly. Anyway the quantity and frequency of eating that could get you that fat isn't part of my eating style make-up. I'm not a binge eater. I'm not a junk food addict. I don't buy a box of cookies or a cake and down all that sugar in a feeding frenzy. I'm just a gal who can't say no - to a great bowl of pasta bolognese, an aromatic beef bourguignon, an exotic Con Thit Nuong Trung (Vietnamese pork, fried egg, rice).


And I don't only have to draw on Ginger Rogers. Look at Carrie Fisher, Kirstie Alley, Elizabeth Taylor (RIP), even Princess Grace (also RIP). All of them lost the battle of the bulge. Even the still stunning Catherine Deneuve shows definite middle-age spread. Maybe they all  felt (feel) like I was feeling over the past year. So much of their life was spent having to be thin, stay thin, fighting that fight...why not just spend the last quarter of their lives (give or take) enjoying good meals, eating that fabulous bread at a fine French restaurant, not only accepting the dessert menu but picking something from that long list of yummies that made them salivate. And eating every last bite! 


I spent a good year or two (after my last diet) doing that, eating what I wanted, when I wanted it. I told myself I didn't care about my bulges.  I tried to focus only on those once lithe actresses who had let themselves get "pleasingly plump." I was happy. Well, I was definitely happy when I was eating. I savored every bite. I went to bed every night without a gnawing feeling of hunger in my belly. 


So, what happened? And why? When does vanity stop? When do we stop caring about the bulges that face us in the mirror? When do we walk into a boutique and get a "large" size pair of slacks and feel just fine about it? 


I spent the past year plus telling myself I didn't care. But while I loved the wining and fine dining I avoided shopping for clothes, telling myself I had plenty. Yeah, plenty of over-sized tops and elastic waist pants. I told myself I loved being comfortable, not caring that I was heavier than far too many of my friends. 


Who the hell was I kidding? I don't know how old you have to be for vanity to stop being an issue. Maybe I'll be dieting when I'm ninety. If I should be so lucky to live that long. Maybe Ginger Rogers and Elizabeth Taylor despaired about their weight. Didn't Kirstie try so hard to lose all those pounds on Nutrisystem? 


We care. I care. I admit it. So now I'm DIETING. Of course I tell myself this is a "lifestyle change". DIETING is socially incorrect these days. We have to believe we are really going to focus on portion control, avoid too much salt or sugar, select "healthy" choices at restaurants, have one glass rather than two glasses of wine...FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES.


Screw it. I'm dieting. I've done the lifestyle change bit on and off (the "off" being the telling word) for years. I don't know how long I can keep this up. I DIETED yesterday and for about 21  days before that. So far this morning I'm staying on course. 


Is self-denial worth it? Well, I guess I must feel that it is at this moment in time because I'm doing it. I tell myself that being able to go into a clothing store and slip into a "tiny" size pair of pants is more gratifying than eating those 3 cheesy, saucy pizza slices and a couple of glasses of wine and maybe a nice slice of chocolate cake...


Stop! I've got a half-eaten bar of chocolate in my fridge. I tell myself it's there to test my will power. The truth is I can't bear to throw it out. What if I just can't take this DIET anymore? What if I wake up in a sweat in the middle of some night and have to have that chocolate or I'll go insane?


I hate this battle. I wish I didn't have to fight it. I wish I wasn't still saddled with vanity. I thought at my age I wouldn't be. I was wrong. Damn it.

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