aging · body image · fitness · menopause · weight loss

On gaining eight pounds and hating it: A rant in two voices

TW: This is a rant in two voices. It began when Cate and I started commiserating at spin class about our unexpected winter weight gain. We don’t do much other than complain. There’s no weight loss tips here. But if complaining about weight gain makes you sad, frustrated, angry, then please look away. We’ll be back to our regular body positive programming when the sun comes out, it stops raining, and we can stop being so grumpy.

Cate and I have lots of things in common. We both have PhDs. We’re both 52 years old. We do things together, like the bike rally, canoe trips, and the Music for Lesbians concert. We have friends in common, some who blog here and others too. We share a fitness activity that’s central to both of our lives, cycling. We both ride with a sense of adventure, though Cate’s more independent and ridden in more countries. I’ve raced and ridden faster I think though I know she’s ridden further. Oh, and on the bike rally we joked about being the “old ladies.’ No parties on our camp site. We were in our tents lights out by 10.

We’re both women menopause seems to have forgotten. But perimenopause, it’s here and making us grumpy.

This year we have one more thing in common. We both gained 8 lbs over the winter doing pretty much the same things we’ve always done. We both hate it. And we both hate that we hate it. We’re grumpy.

That about get it right, Cate?

I’m blaming Trump. You?


Cate: LOL — I so want to blame Trump. And I did read that that is a thing. Even Barbra Streisand apparently blamed Trump for her weight gain.

And I think there is some truth to the sense that this winter has been kind of bruising and disorienting on a political front — and that does make me curl up on my couch and make my own blizzards with fancy ice cream and girl guide cookies, or invite people over for comfort food.

But I have had a tendency to comfort food for a long time, and I’m not eating that differently than I have been for the last 10 years. And people have been warning me forever — “your metabolism will change when you’re over 50” — and I didn’t want it to be true. And bam, almost overnight, true. I run way more slowly, and the scale has just crept up in sneaky ways to a number that I haven’t seen since before I quit smoking and took up fitness when I was 29. And it makes me feel like my body has betrayed me. And add a dose of the raging PMS I now get and I’m just ANGRY. You got an earful of that when we went spinning together on Tuesday.


Sam: It’s not just the weight gain though that’s the visible thing you can see. For me it’s also needing more sleep, taking longer to get well after I’ve been sick, heartburn (that’s new and awful), not responding well to stress, and crying. It’s like everything has slowed down and gotten sad. And yes my metabolism is part of that.

Like you I haven’t been eating differently. I’ve been working out. Those things haven’t changed but my bodies response has. It kind of looks at the good food and the workouts and goes “meh.” I’m at a loss for what to change really. In a way, eight pounds, who cares? But a) it’s a trend I’m worried about and b) I’m already over the recommended weight for the race wheels for my bike.

I broke a spoke the other day and the bike mechanic helpfully suggested sturdier, heavier wheels. I didn’t swear in the shop but I did in the car. He’s right of course. I swapped wheels. But I’m not happy about it.


Cate: It’s all tangled up for me with the invisibility thing we’ve been talking about.  I’m very short; even 5 lbs is a significant difference to me and I have a fear of looking like this high school teacher I had who was quite round and short and tottered around on high heels to try to offset it.  I don’t want to look like Mrs G!  I want to look strong and athletic and *vital*.  And even when I know I can Do Things, it all makes me feel Not Vital.  And that’s what I’m trying to make sense of.

We were talking about how the dominant advice is always “eat less, move more.”  We both move a LOT now, especially for people whose jobs are about conversations and sharing what’s in our heads.  It feels like I have to undertake a massive revolution in how I eat, and I don’t want to be that person — I want to be the person who can eat fries if I feel like it.  I RESENT IT!

What are we going to do?


Sam: I agree with you. We can’t be people who never eat fries!

But the visibility thing is tough. For both of us, it’s being seen as who we are, athletic women. I had someone offer me their seat on the subway the other day and I thought, “Really! Do I look like I need your seat? I am the oldest person on this train? What?”

I realized he was likely just being polite in a gendered, chivalrous way (I was wearing a skirt) and so I thanked him and took his seat.

And some of the time I’m happy to be the person who blows other peoples’ stereotypes out of the water. I love passing people on my bike. Moving the weight up rather than down on the lat pull down machine at the Y.

But I also want people to see me, to recognize who I am.

I hate it when someone says I should get off the bus a stop early to you know, add more movement to my life. HAVE YOU LOOKED AT MY GARMIN FILES? Oh nevermind.

So what?


Cate:  We keep riding.  And maybe think a bit more about the fries?

Sam: And we’re definitely not getting these for our bikes!

9 thoughts on “On gaining eight pounds and hating it: A rant in two voices

  1. I expected to hate this post because I hate it when people complain about weight gain. But you kept it light and expressed the realities of that peri menopausal weight gain that can strike. I didn’t get it too much myself but things did “redistribute” in frustrating ways. I don’t want to (and generally don’t) hate it. Trying to stay as neutral as possible is my deal. Good luck to both of you coming to terms with the changes menopause brings! It’s not open ended by the way. It does level off and (though i hesitate to say this because it’s so not in line with what I usually say publicly or even privately) it can come off. I unexpectedly and without effort lost eight pounds this winter maybe it belongs to one of you now? Guess what? No one noticed and I can hardly tell.

  2. Thanks for talking openly about this. Sometimes we’re trying so hard to be positive and uplifting that we don’t acknowledge the very real fears and frustrations that changes in our body bring. I’ve been dealing with some of this on a lesser scale with inexplicably sluggish training and injuries which have caused significant angst. It’s soothing to know that other people struggle as well.

    And, as a younger woman, I appreciate the open discussion about aging. It feels like I’m a little more prepared to accept my body’s natural changes (although I’m sure there will be a fair amount of rage and despair involved).

    Anyhow. At least summer is nearly here and the cold and wet should stop!

  3. I feel the same way when I gain weight. It’s a mix of anger, frustration, and confusion. Great post!

  4. I really relate to this posting! Thanks so much for your honest sharing!

  5. I think a complaining post is an important reminder that no matter how comfortable we become, we all still have some anxiety and insecurity about our bodies and aging.

    Throwing my scale away helped me a lot. I don’t get the number blues. But I still feel big some days and I think about dieting and then I just try to put that aside.

    It’s nice to know you women do that too.

  6. I am 58 and just diagnosed with full blown diabetes. Have been fooling myself and fooling around with pre-diabetes for a full 3 years. I get the feeling of not being seen but lately find it a little reassuring. I am working now, hard, on doing something about my very overweight body, moving 10 minutes (don’t laugh) a day and controlling what I put in my mouth. I don’t mind the complaining post at all. The hassle of maintaining or losing weight to feel healthy and make myself move more is draining on some days. Other days it feels like a triumph.
    I feel better knowing you both have issues as well. I look up to you both for your efforts in keeping healthy and being so honest on this blog.
    Keep up the good work!!.

  7. My guess would be that with your level of activity you have gained muscle and bone. This is a good thing–not to mention that your experiences reinforce that fitness is a whole basket of strengths, and has nothing at all to do with weight.

    1. Yes, I also want to underscore the muscle mass possibility, and mention my frustration with measures of weight in general. Gaining 8 pounds might have negative effects – maybe especially on emotions/ self-image – but it might also be a positive thing, in terms of giving you 8 more pounds of pedal-pushing, lat pull-down muscle! And those bigger tires might be necessary b/c you’re muscly AF!

      I have a strong dislike for the ‘move more/eat less’ mantra. It’s not that it’s wrong, exactly, it’s just that it’s imprecise, potentially misleading, and non-specific for all the different kinds of bodies there are. I wish there were an equally simple/catchy phrase that was also more… exact, I guess.

  8. I relate to this so much! I am also blaming Trump for my winter weight gain, but truthfully, it started last summer when I road tripped from Tucson to NYC and gave myself permission to eat all the chips and snacks I desired. And then I started grad school, my dog died, and politics got even more depressing. I’ve got reasons damnit. But actually I was a little taken aback at how quickly my self-esteem plummeted after years of espousing body positivity for all shapes and sizes. Yet here I am, feeling a twinge of self-hatred for gaining a measly 10 pounds. And now I’m not sure if I feel worse about the weight gain or the hypocrisy. Unlike you, though, I know full well that I’ve been over indulging and just need to scale back on the snacks and desserts. Lol.

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