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Middle Age, Spare Tires and Clean Plates: Something's Gotta Give


I'm too young to have an arthritic hip.

That's what I tell myself while I rub prescription gel in to numb a sharp, insistent pain that is most certainly not from arthritis.

I'm too young to need reading glasses, let alone go up in magnification, I say as I shop online for 1.5 strength "cheaters."

These lidocaine patches must be for someone else, I think while the lady at the pharmacy rings them up.

"Is there nothing I can do to slow this mudslide into decrepitude?" I ask the doctor as I sit in the disposable shorts they'd given me for the hip X-ray. The shorts have an elastic waistband, balloon out wide enough that a strong upward breeze could send me into flight and feel disturbingly comfortable. I consider sneaking them home in my purse.

"You could always lose weight," the doctor answers, slowly, bracing for impact.

I'm not insulted, though I am depressed.

What's the secret? What's the pill, the exercise, the specialty diet that works where others don't?

"Count calories. When we get older, we can't eat the same way we used to."

My mind wanders back, wistfully, to high school, when I'd have an orange juice and a Nutty Buddy from the vending machine for breakfast. At least it was high in vitamin C.

Now I have to eat like a grown-up.

I've gone on a ... sorry, hold on, just having trouble getting the word out ... diet.

The word makes me shiver. Its very sound makes me feel older.

I've fought it long and hard, mostly because of the general unfairness of the whole thing. It just seems cruel, that my body would work against me like this.

I know evolution's to blame, that when we were cavemen and cavewomen, the tendency to store extra pounds could mean the difference between surviving the winter and becoming a dead branch on the family tree.

But it's 2022 and I live in the United States, and my body still holds on to unnecessary fat as if the ready supply of woolly mammoth meat could dry up at any minute.


There are many good reasons why I've put on weight over the years -- IVF, then pregnancy, then the pandemic. Not fair, not fair, not fair.

Still, true. Railing against the unfairness hasn't dissolved a single pound.

I've been on a decadelong strike against reality, but now it's time to change. It's time to eat more vegetables and less meat, to pass up the French fries and cinnamon rolls -- if not forever, at least more frequently.

The only problem is, sometimes it's tough to convince my stomach that it wouldn't just be better to eat the ice cream and die sooner. (My stomach is stupid, you see.)

It can help to look at my kids, but occasionally, that has the opposite effect. There they sit, smugly thin, refusing to eat another bite of mac and cheese.

"You can't have any candy until you finish your pizza," my husband tells them.

I made Nicoise salad the other night: seared tuna, Dijon dressing and perfectly cooked vegetables.

It was healthy, and, therefore, I resented it.

Not because it wasn't delicious but because it wasn't what I would have chosen 25 years ago, when there was no such thing as cholesterol and my meals were limited only by my appetite.

I guess it's not the food I'm hungry for.

I wonder if the trick is to realize that those lost years can't be found in donuts. Maybe Nicoise salads are the fountain of youth.

At least, that is, until I look in the medicine cabinet and see those lidocaine patches.

But I shouldn't worry. After all, they're for someone else, aren't they?


To learn more about Georgia Garvey, visit

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