No one has asked me about the premise of my blog name lately — that if you’re over 25 you’re middle-aged. I’m not sure when most people consider “middle-aged” to begin, but I’m guessing not until the late 40s or early 50s. Go ahead, you dreamers. Your optimistic attitude toward age won’t keep your body (or your mind, but let’s not go there) from falling apart. Me, I’d rather face aging with realism and push myself to stay at the high point of the bell curve for what my body and mind can reasonably be expected to handle at my age.
Speaking of which, I’m quite proud of myself for hitting my middle-aged weight goal this month. I use an ap called “Lose It” that lets you estimate your BMI, set your goal, choose what rate you would like to lose weight by (sadly, “instantly” is not an option) and then it determines a daily calorie budget to help you achieve that weight. You then log your food and exercise daily, with bar charts and pie charts and line graphs showing your progress (this is the most math I’ve done, or rather observed, since Econ 101 in college) and if you stick with the actions required to meet these mathematical equations, you will lose the weight. So two Fridays ago, when I finally entered my weight knowing that I had reached my goal, I was kind of excited to see what the ap would do. I pictured some kind of animated scene similar to when you get a strike at a bowling alley, like a picture of a scale blowing up or shrinking or bowing down to me. And sure enough, a window popped up with a message that read:
“Congratulations! You have lost .6 pounds in 37 months and 26 days!”
“Congratulations! You have lost .6 pounds in 37 months and 26 days!”
I laughed out loud. Because that is the most pathetic (but true) message I have ever received. I couldn’t even remember when I had started using the ap, but apparently it was Feb. 4, 2014, when Rye was almost a year old and I was getting frustrated with losing weight on my own, just trying to lose the last little bit for my 31-year-old self’s “ideal weight.” That number was determined by a fitness guy on a cruise ship who had me stand on one of those scales that sends electricity through your body and determines your percentages of muscle, fat and water and then determines the exact size and weight you should hope (or work, or as he was pushing, take fat-burning seaweed capsules) to be. Apparently I had been pretty close to that number when I started the ap, but not wanting to wait for the gradual change of half a pound a week progress that the ap recommends, I had gone for the pound a week rate, which led to a calorie budget of less than 1,300 calories per day that was nearly impossible to meet, neither daily nor as an average over the week. (At some point I had decided that I was no longer 31 and so I gave myself permission to up my goal weight by 3 pounds, which also led to this very low bar of weight loss achievement.) Also in those 37 months and 26 days, I had two more pregnancies. My line graph has 2 mountains and some minor hills (though I didn’t track myself during the pregnancies, just when they were over). But post-Christmas this year, I decided it was time to get serious and just finish those last pesky 3 pounds. I changed the weight loss rate to half a pound per week, and accomplished the final weight loss in just 3 weeks instead of 6 weeks anyway. Sigh. The lessons learned: weight loss is incredibly hard when you’re middle-aged, and take the ap’s advice and do it the slow and easy way.
Weight loss is not my only story about middle-agedness this week. During the same week that I achieved my weight loss goal, several days earlier, I was at the gym, getting my cardio in, and decided to really push myself on the treadmill. I normally do walking and running intervals because I LOATHE running, but I don’t have time to walk enough calories off, so I gotta make up time somewhere and hence do some running. This day I decided to up my speed on the running portion by .7 miles per hour. And I could do it! This is the upside of weight loss—physical activity kind of just gets easier on its own. I was so proud of myself, that I even did an extra 10 minutes of running. When I got off the treadmill I felt a little more tired, but no more sore or out of breath. I went home, showered, and forgot about it.
The next morning, I was still fine. My legs are muscly Miller legs, and they weren’t hurting. I went about my day, which for that day, included taking Rye to preschool and then going to book club at a friend’s house. Toward the end of book club, I started feeling a little off in my stomach, but I thought maybe I had had too much caffeine. (Knox stopped nursing and I’m back on the juice, baby!). I picked Rye up from school and went home, and started to wonder if maybe I was getting the stomach bug that pretty much every friends’ family had already been taken out by but we had escaped. When I laid down on the floor with the kids, I felt better, but as soon as I got up, you know, doing stuff, I could feel it again. Every time I went to the bathroom, I wondered if this was the time that I was going to lose my shit, as they say, but it never happened. At dinner time I texted Josh that he better leave work on time because I thought I was coming down with the stomach bug and might need immediate back up, any minute now. He came home, but I had already gotten the kids in bed and was just lying on the couch pathetically, though with all internal contents still in place.
The next morning, the feeling was still there. In fact, 30 hours after it began, it was still there, and I’m pretty sure that’s not how the stomach bug works. You usually only feel it coming on about 30 seconds before you make it to the toilet. Every time I lied down to rest, I felt better, but up and doing things, I felt weak. So I called my mom to describe my symptoms and see what she thought it could be. She told me that last winter, while painting her bathroom, she had done a lot of unfamiliar body motions, using muscles she doesn’t normally use, which led to her pulling a muscle in her stomach. It was so bad that when she described it to her doctor, he wondered if she had somehow broken a rib. She recommended I try a heating pad on it and see if that made a difference.
Which, of course, it did. I felt like an idiot. While my legs, and shockingly, my lungs, could handle 30 minutes of interval running at a 5.2 pace (don’t judge me), my stomach muscles could not. Knowing that there was nothing internally wrong with my stomach, I also started taking ibuprofen and was back to full mobility in a day or two.
And my final, and most shameful episode of middle-agery: my alcohol tolerance. Knox was sleeping a good six hours through the night from quite early on, so I was soon enjoying the occasional Jack and Coke (Zero) which is my signature drink these days. Last Friday, after seeing about a million gin references in Amazon Prime’s “Z: The Beginning of Everything” about Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, I decided to have some gin and tonic (except with Sprite Zero). After all, Knox was done nursing and had been sleeping 11-hour nights for about 5 out of 7 nights per week. I had one and a half drinks, pouring the same amount of gin as I sometimes do with whiskey, but with about three-quarters of it consumed, I realized gin is not equivalent to whiskey. No problem, I thought, I’ll sleep it off.
Except Knox didn’t sleep through the night. Around 2:30 a.m., he started bawling, and after Josh tried consoling him for about 20 minutes, realized the source of trouble was a breached diaper, getting his pajamas, snuggle suit and even sheets wet. Josh turned on the light and changed his diaper, clothes and sheets. Meanwhile Knox continued to wail, and I got up to see what the commotion was. One look in Knox’s eyes and I knew he wasn’t going back to sleep. So at 3:15 a.m., I took him downstairs to give him a mini bottle and let him play. He drank the bottle, but then whined on his play mat, while climbing on me, while I tried to get him to sleep with me on the couch, every way except for me holding him. After 45 minutes I decided he must be tired enough to go to sleep, so I took him back upstairs, held him while swaying to his crib music box for a few minutes, and put him down and got in my bed. So I got about two more hours of sleep before Rye was up, waking Knox up, hearing Josh get up with both of them, hearing Rye run all over the downstairs and shaking the house, so that at 7:30 I gave up and got up. No headache, no dry-mouth, no queasy stomach, just that dizzy feeling. I tried drinking water and going about my day, but it didn’t work. When we got to my parents’ house at 10:30 after an hour drive, I puked. For the first time from alcohol in over a decade. From 1 ½ drinks. Post puking, I was over the queasiness and even the dizziness and had only the tiredness to contend with, but it was enough that it ruined my day. When Josh and I got back home, I napped for an hour, then we still went to bed at 9:30.
And if you’re 36, you are too.