On Muffin-Tops, Grudges and Excess Baggage

. . . or how I sacrificed my waistline for science.

Last winter, I conducted a thorough, scientific study. In fact, I proved, without a doubt, that there is a direct correlation between muffins and muffin-tops. It was a long and rigorous experiment, but I stuck with it . . . for science. No, I am not able to reveal the downtown eateries who participated in this study, those devilish dealers of delectable baked goods. Oh the warm, fragrant Cranberry Orange, the tart Lemon Blueberry with the little drizzle of frosting, the Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip, and the ever delightful and always tempting French Toast flavored,  how you all served me well in my thoroughly exhausting research.

In case you are not familiar with the term “muffin-top” this would be the little fold of extra, um, well let’s just call it a little “extra-me,” that was spilling over the top of my jeans. I know, I know, it’s not a pleasant thought but this is reality. All of us, in middle age, carry a little more weight around with us than we used to. Part of the problem is our changing bodies and slower metabolisms.  Another contributing factor may be the stress from our busy lives. I am guilty of being a stress eater. If life is giving me a hard time, you will find me melting cheese on whatever I find in the kitchen. Yet, I’m learning to think about what I eat in a different way. How is it feeding my body? How is it feeding my soul?

Although I’ve always eaten reasonably healthy, with middle-age comes the need to pay even closer attention. Should I eat meat and dairy? (Yes, I’m still eating dairy, no, I’m no longer eating meat). Can I afford to eat organic? (I can’t always afford to, but at least try to buy local and fresh). Am I getting enough calcium? (Yes, I am, hence the dairy). Should I take supplements? What about herbs and fish oil? There is so much more to think about these days when we decide what we are going to eat. I cook from scratch whenever possible, read every label when it’s not! I’ve also started keeping a food journal. No one else sees it, but it helps me keep track of what I’m eating, and how I’m feeling. I have to admit I’m feeling better, especially since giving up meat last spring and incorporating considerably more fresh vegetables. It’s hard to believe that many of us, before we knew better, survived a childhood filled with Hostess Cupcakes and bologna and ketchup sandwiches.

I try to remember to strike a balance. It is important to be aware of what I’m eating, but it is also important to enjoy life as well. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to be more kind to myself. We can’t give up everything.  We just need to learn to enjoy the things we love in moderation. I need also to accept that no amount of dieting or exercising will bring my body back to the way it was when I was 25 and that’s okay! I’ve grown so much since I was that age, and my life is so much richer now.  A little fresh fruit and Greek yogurt, a little exercise, and every now and again, something warm and sweet with my coffee and my life is more balanced, more whole.

I realized something else this week; besides carrying a few extra pounds in my forties I am also carrying some old baggage. I am hanging on to old grudges. If I have been hurt or offended, I am still carrying it around. Oh it may be small, but I’ve still got it. I’ve got it somewhere here, in the bottom of my Big Mom Pocketbook (disguised as a really cool, hip bag from Mexicali Blues but we all know it is just a Big Mom Pocketbook). If it was a really large offense, something that really hurt, I’m dragging it behind me like Linus’ blanket in Peanuts. At first, it was warm and comforting and no one minded if I carried it for a while, they understood. Now, it’s become dirty, smelly and offensive to others but I still drag it behind me, clutching it so tightly sometimes my knuckles are white.

This winter, I think I’ll do better. We have to be conscious of how we take care of ourselves, inside and out. It’s okay to carry a little bit around with you. Having a few extra pounds and a few unresolved issues is just part of being grown up, middle aged, and having lived a rich, interesting life but too much weighs us down. It holds us back. It keeps us from moving forward. Carrying around extra weight is not good for us. It is not good for our hearts, and it’s not good for our souls. We need to let go of our regrets so our hands are free to reach for our futures!

The old baggage has served its purpose. We need to look at it closely, examine all the pockets. Take out every lesson and make sure we didn’t leave anything good in there. Then just get rid of it, let it go! Sometimes it takes time and courage. We may not always be ready. There are a few things at the bottom of my Big Mom Pocketbook I’m not ready to look at yet, but I think I’m ready to drop this old Linus blanket off into the dumpster out back. Then, maybe I’ll do some yoga and or take a long walk just to make up for the sweet, warm, fresh muffin that might be waiting for me downtown tomorrow morning.  I’m no longer regretting the past . . . or an occasional muffin!

Karen Foley

About Karen Foley

Karen Foley, has successfully been writing her blog for the BDN since May 2011. By successful, she means a few people read it, and she has not been sued, stalked or fired since starting it.