I carry my weight as "belly fat." Over 50% of Americans do. You know...the kind that is linked to higher risks for heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's. Yep. That's me.
I also have a preference for loose-fitting clothes such as jumpers. I have broad shoulders for a woman, and jumpers have no sleeves. I also think empire waistlines are adorable and love the way the material flows freely.
However, belly fat and jumpers and empire waistlines make an unfortunate combination.
My daughter was a preschooler...maybe in early elementary...when a group of women from my Sunday School class was having one of those home parties. Mind you, these were gals that I was with every week. They had been around for my daughter's birth. They were my social group. They knew me and my husband. And still, that night, one of them - seeing me in a jumper - asked when my baby was due.
Ummm, no baby. Just a few extra pounds. All in one spot.
She was embarrassed. I was mortified.
Fast forward a decade and some years. I'm 40ish. Daughter is now in high school. I'm working in an office setting, dealing daily with clients. And this one little old lady, so innocently, again asked when I was expecting.
This time I played it off as a compliment that she even thought I was still young enough to be having kids. (Note to my 40-something friends who ARE still having kids...YAY FOR YOU!!! I'm excited that you can, and are, having children! So don't take this as a slam against older parents.) But it still upset me that people could have that mistaken idea based on the way I was looking.
I actually envied the people who gained weight all over, because then you could tell they were overweight - not pregnant.
So, in a weird way, when I got heavy enough that my arms and legs started showing the extra weight, too, that was a GOOD thing for me. No more looking preggers. Nope. Now I'm just middle-aged and fat. At least I knew where I fit in the social spectrum.
Besides, being "big" equates with being "comforting" and "loving" in my mind. My mom - my fantastic, wonderful mom who never met a kid she didn't want to take into her home - struggled with her weight all of her adult life. Her sisters and their mother - all of them wonderful moms, all of them "fluffy" to one degree or another. I love being a mom, and a Mee-Mow, and being "another mother" to any teens or 20-somethings who will still let someone mother them. So it all goes together for me. And that helped it be okay when I grew beyond the baby belly look.
So this past week, one day I was getting ready for work. I had on a button-down top that ties in back - it's a way clothes can fit a variety of "big girls." It also tends to accentuate your bust and then let the shirt bloom out to whatever size your stomach is...like an empire waistline. And there it was, staring back at me in the mirror.
The baby belly is back.
At first, I was like, "Oh, ick! NO!"
Then I realized, wait, this is a good thing! It goes along with losing weight, and dropping the extra that's been making me fluffy all over. Now that the all-over weight is leaving, you can SEE the belly fat again. And this time I know it's only temporary. One of these days, that will be much less, too.
So I welcome the baby belly as a sign of progress.
And if you see me out on the streets, just know that no, I'm not having a late-life miracle baby. (We have that already - we call him Ethan, and he lives with his Mommy and calls us Mee-Mow and Num-Num.) :) I'm just working my way back down to something that's healthy and decreasing my risk for all those nasty things like heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's.