This week when I went to the mall, I had a startling and ugly realization: it’s swimsuit season again.
Every store window is alive with tiny bikinis and their equally horrendous “cover ups,” the short short. Guys aren’t off the hook either, as this year’s trunks are short and slim.
By the time I’d finished my trip, I was in a full state of unbridled panic. Normally what I’ve come to call my “bathing costume” — a tankini that emphasizes the cleavage but obscures the belly — does the trick. But this past year has been a killer, and even though I work out like a mo’fo three or four times a week and watch what I eat, nature, hormones, and gravity are doing their damndest to pack on a pooch that only kangaroos might envy.
So what can you expect when you’re not expecting? (Please note this applies not only to women who’ve been through the belly stretcher of pregnancy, but also to men, women who’ve never had kids, and even my poor little bitch, who technically is older than me now and sports a furry spare tire, particularly when she sits awaiting the next snack.)
• A deep, dark, disturbing resentment of crop tops and people whom look fabulous in them. You may find yourself driven to write a script for Lifetime called, “The Crop Top Killer.”
• The urge to layer Spanx. (And no, your squished organs DO NOT forgive you. Your compressed bowels are not amused, either.)
• A missing belly button ring. (Remember when you got that piercing back in ’95? No? Well, let’s just say it’s a good thing that the memory goes right around the same time the mid section starts spreading….)
• A food baby after each meal if you don’t eat child-sized portions or the recommended five small meals (vs. three larger ones) a day.
• A noticeable shift in your wardrobe that includes over-sized t-shirts, baggy shorts, high-rise jeans (not exactly in style anymore, FYI), sweats, and yoga wear. (Click here for more on What Not To Wear.)
• A shelf full of raspberry ketones, books on detoxes, and other random belly fat “cures.” (I have a half dozen bottles of slightly used green coffee bean and Garcinia Cambogia extracts if anyone needs.)
• Programming your phone so you have Dr. Oz on speed dial so that at least once a day you can curse him out for all the hideous “belly fat blasters” spam that is flooding your inbox.
• A “pet” that sits in your lap, demanding your attention, and unless you are a particularly hairy person, isn’t necessarily all that much fun to pat.
• Realizing that the term, “muffin top,” feels woefully inadequate — you’re looking more at a profiterole or even a soufflé.
• Accidentally drifting into the “Liz Lange” maternity section at Target and finding that the outfits not only look adorable, but fit better, too.
Now that we’ve gotten all of the “feel good” aspects out of the way, it’s time to go full metal “What to Expect®…” on you as an homage to those indispensable maternity and parenting books. They look so innocuous from their homespun, scrapbook-y covers, then proceed to scare the shit out of you with the most horrific things that can happen described in vivid detail.
Here’s the truth about middle age spread, and what it’s really all about:
• It’s a safe house for some of the nastiest killers out there: diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
• It’s home of the only hormone that INCREASES with age — cortisone, also known as the stress hormone. The more stressed you are, the poochier the pooch.
• Speaking of hormones, the spread thrives on hormonal fluctuations. The less progesterone and estrogen, the more fat that’s deposited on the abdomen… and the bigger the Buddha belly is.
• “Visceral fat” (aka, belly fat) is linked to dementia.
• The loss of muscle mass that happens with age supports the growth of ye olde belly by decreasing resting metabolic rate. It also pushes you toward a more sedentary life.
And so my bitches, one might ask what to do when you’re not expecting?
It all boils down to this: eat less (about 200 calories less a day than when you were in your 20s and 30s), choose a healthier and predominately plant-based diet, exercise daily, add strength training and core exercises to the routine, and stop feeding the food baby! (This simple article from Women’s Health & Fitness clearly spells it out — applies to dudes, too.)
So if you see me sneaking Cheetos, please remind me I have yet to find my lost belly button ring. And besides, it’s far better to fill your belly up with laughs than with anything else!