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Fifty Plus: Muffin tops, the Battle of the Bulge, and the “e” word

linda r. jones

Linda R. Jones/Photo by Kevin Blackburn

There are a few words in the English language that repulse me.  The “e” word is on the top of my list.  Exercise.  I don’t like to do the “e” word in the traditional manner.  Treadmills; where are you going?  Stationary bikes; again, where are you going?  I see people at gyms and cringe.  I’m told they get a rush of endorphins from doing the “e” word.  I’d rather run my head into a wall.  Would that count as the “e” word?  I’d run and get a rush.

I used to hear the terms “muffin tops” and “battle of the bulge.”  For the longest time I kept thinking if I buy a muffin, I want the whole thing not just the top.  As far as the battle of the bulge, I read history and saw the movie; it did not end well for either side.

Throughout my life I’ve never really had issues with weight management.  I always ate what I wanted when I wanted.  I used to be told “just wait until your turn 40.”  I did and still fine.  Then I turned 50.  Pause.  Sigh.

I don’t know what happened.  Within a few years, everything I ate started to gradually stick to me.  My pants kept getting tighter.  Initially I thought the dryer was running too high.  Certainly I wasn’t gaining weight.  I was and it was my husband’s fault.

During my 40’s, my husband and I took ballroom dance classes.  I was told by my doctor that dance was an excellent form of exercise.

“No!!!!!  Not the “e” word!  Don’t ruin dance for me!”

So, my husband and I danced for five years.  We were getting rather good and I was getting plenty of the “e” word.  I was looking good in those dance dresses.  And then his knee blew out.  Twice.  Just as I turned 50.  He had two knee surgeries and dance was out for a while.  Dance was out for five years.  I kept eating what I wanted when I wanted but with no “e” word, it happened.  My first muffin top.

I remember it as clearly as giving birth to my children. I was 52-years-old.  I was researching lighting fixtures on the computer.  My jeans were snug because the dryer was still running too high.  I kept squirming around on the chair because I thought my t-shirt kept bunching up and rolling over my jeans.  I looked down, lifted my t-shirt, and screamed.  I was in disbelief.  It was my muffin top.  I stared at it.  I grabbed it.  It was soft and smooth.  It jiggled.  Then I passed out.

I thought I could start walking again.  Years before we took dance classes, I used to power walk.  Not because I was doing the “e” word but because I was scouting for houses on the tree streets.  I walk fast because I’m a native New Yorker.  New Yorkers just walk faster.  So, to reiterate, I was merely searching for houses at a fast pace.  But, my muffin top didn’t like the weather.  It was either too hot or too cold or it would rain or the sun was out.  Something always kept interfering with a walk.  I did walk to my deck with a glass or two of wine for two years.  Then I turned 54.  So began my battle of the bulge.

The battle is brutal.  It wraps around your waist and when you lean over it starts right below your breasts.  My dryer was running fine so I went from wearing jeans to sweatpants.  They come in a variety of colors, they stretch, and the waistband is elastic.  When my bulge got larger, the elastic would finally give out.  Those are the best pair of sweatpants because they’re broken in and I have a feeling of victory because I’m comfortable.

The battle continues when I look in the full length mirror.  I don’t look very long.  That’s not how a dancer should look.  Bulges are busting out everywhere.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I started taking dance classes again.  I’m motivated.  I like to dance.  I’d like to lose this “battle” of the bulge and my muffin top.  Dresses look nicer without them.  I finally have to admit it’s because of the “e” word that I’ll get there.

– Column by Linda R. Jones




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