Photo of a female nude, about 1900. Model and ...

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I’ve been noticing what I think qualifies as an obsession in my life. An obsessive obsession.

First though, I’m happy to report that I’m not obsessing about men. Or politics. Not sure how to credit those developments, but I can tell you, it’s a relief. I feel (at least today) that I’ve turned a corner on those subjects that have previously occupied too much brain space.

I’m noticing a new trend. I’ve replaced men and politics with an obsession about my torso.

Age appropriate?

Just over a year ago my clothes fit. Some of my pants were loose. I did not have a muffin top. I felt good. But by the time March 2010 ended, I was beside myself with disgust over my new shape: a stomach that was bigger than my boobs and a three-inch roll above my pants waist. This is life changing for someone who never spent much time thinking about her body shape (except for that summer of depression in college when I porked out). I’m tall, smaller boned and when ten extra pounds would appear, I knew they would disappear in a week or two if I cut down on treats and walked around the lake an extra day each week.

This past year has proven this is no longer the case. I am menopausal, complete with the no-estrogen zone that is reputed to show up in the midsection when periods cease. How can this be? I started looking at other women’s no-estrogen zone, and sure enough, there’s that thickness between breast and pelvis. I began guessing other women’s ages based on their torso size. Even Today Show host Meredith Viera (spotted on a camera shot from the side) has “the zone!” I was scrutinizing other TV anchorwomen who sit behind a desk. Ever notice how trim a woman can look while she’s standing, and how the midsection collapses when she takes a seat? Do anchorwomen obsess over the height of their chairs? Does her stage manager understand the importance of proper chair height? I should never sit down again. I need a tummy shaper—or a straight jacket.

Finally, driven to distraction, I thought I would channel my lost-cause obsession more productively. After many years of “free” exercise walking three miles around my neighborhood lake, I am now paying for a gym membership AND a yoga class. My goal is to prove that the no-estrogen zone can dissolve, given proper care and less feeding. Is it possible to succeed?

Okay. I’ve revealed my obsession. Pathetic. Sometimes, when I’m in an Elliptical machine reverie, I wonder what it would be like to obsess over something that really matters. Like overcrowded classrooms, like people who see no place for themselves in the workforce, like U.S. citizens who are hungry or who can’t read. What if I directed the fervor with which I attempt to whittle down my torso into something that really mattered?

My soundtrack today: Christine Lavin – “Butter” (to listen)

11 responses to “Obsession

  1. Actually men and politics could be very much related to our torsos….

  2. Liz: Have enjoyed reading your blog. Keep it going….

  3. Excellent. Loved this post.
    If one is going to be obssesive…why not about one’s torso?
    I can think of worst things … like booze, drugs, and Rock & Roll!!!

  4. Liz, first of all, I must comment on the beautiful image. No muffin top there.
    Ah well, I’ve given the torso some thought myself recently. Things have changed in the past few years and that is a fact. I know I’ll never get that 40-something body back and honestly, I’m not that interested in retrieving it. It’s a process, but I’m working on the curiosity aspect of “all things changing” and continue to ask myself…”can I be o.k. with what I notice about my body today”? Most days I can. If I do start obsessing however, I usually forget what it was I was obsessing about 10 minutes later. In that case, I look to chocolate to soothe the forgetful mind.

  5. Can I just pretend this won’t happen to me for a while? Like, I’m somehow immune to the changes EVERY woman goes through? Please? Ok. Thanks.
    I had to stop eating 800 calories worth of popcorn recently (no lie) and that was my little tummy tuck trick. I should donate my remaining popcorn to a food shelter.

    • Keep up your weight lifting, mama, and you probably won’t ever have to live through this. I do believe that if those fat cells are kept at bay prior to menopause, then you’d hardly notice their arrival. Yeah, 800 cals of strictly carbs in one sitting doesn’t really doesn’t do any body part a lot of good. Congrats on breaking the habit.

  6. Cynthia Cahill

    Oh yes. BUTTER>

  7. This totally cracks me up — what great writing, Liz. Funny thing is, I have obsessed about my figure since I was 16 and have turned a totally different corner than you of late — one where I’ve let go, ever so slightly, of feeling inferior because I am not model-sized. Even when I was model-sized, there was always something to obsess about body-wise. Take it from me: it ain’t worth it!

    • You’re darn right, Molly, it’s not worth it. Way too much energy has been directed at my roll. It makes me a little mad that at an age when I have finally achieved self-acceptance in many areas, I’m so hard on my waistline. And Molly, you can COMPLETELY let go of inferior feelings. Trust me on that, girl.

  8. OK, I’m 44 and not menopausal yet, but I am taking massive amounts of progesterone to combat my estrogen (b/c I’m essentially NUTS with hormone overload). Anyhoo, as soon as I started the huge progesterone dosage, the zone thickened. Almost overnight. And I’m a running/biking/swimming machine who eats well. Sigh. I wish I could worry about Japan or Libya, but I can’t. Because the waistband of my 12 year old skirt is today tight for the first time ever. 😦
    I’m with ya.

    • Wow, those hormones! I guess they have their jobs to do. Interesting to hear your development, Pamela–it’s hard to not think about it when your body seems to do an end run around you. The exercise habit is important now and will continue to be. Good for you.

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