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January 19, 2008, last updated May 13, 2014

By DeDe Howard, Featured Columnist


It started to happen to me early. I was only about 29 when
I started to notice that my body was starting to change, to
turn on me.  From teenage years until then, I could eat and
do just about anything and I remained a trim 112-120
pounds. Never skipped a dessert. Never went to a gym.
Never thought about a gym.  Back in the day, the boys used
to call me "fine", as in "she is so fine!".  Believe me, that
was a compliment back then even to a budding feminist.

Not to brag, but I was a Coke bottle. The perfect feminine
figure. Broad at the top, tiny in the middle and broad
around the hips.

That was then.  The mirror started talking back to me, as in
"listen, don't let me burst your love affair with yourself but
you could stand to lose a few. Especially around the
middle--If ya know what I mean". My response? I got a
new mirror.

But the mirror was right. As they used to say in my
neighborhood, there's a fine line between fat and fine, and
I had crossed it!

Why did I go soft in the middle? I had stopped resembling a
Coke bottle. The Coke bottle had become the Budweiser can.

Vanity aside, a soft middle is a health risk.
See Waist Size
Matters.

The reasons we go soft in the middle are numerous.  Here
are the main ones:



























1.
Sedentary lifestyles. How many of us go from throwing
Frisbees at college to sitting behind desks--our jobs make it
harder to squeeze in exercise and still put bread on the
table. So, left with a choice of spending time just catching
our breath or spending an hour getting even more out of
breath through exercise, we choose to sit down a minute.
Then, a minute becomes a decade.

The truth is, that even if we didn't become sedentary, we
would gradually become heavier. Why, as we age, we lose
muscle mass, about 1% for every 3 years after age 30.  
Between the time you are 30 and the time you enter your
70's, you lose 15% of your body's muscle mass, according
to a 1995 study led by Dr. W.J. Evans of the Noll
Physiological Research Center at Pennsylvania State
University.  

Since muscle is the key burner of calories, you begin to gain
weight.

As a result, if you do nothing, you're losing the battle
against fat.  You have to move, and strengthen your
muscles, just to maintain the mass you has at age 30.

2.
Isolation. As we age, many of us become more and more
isolated. We used to find it easy to gather in groups,
especially when we are younger. Groups are more active,
even if it's just telling each other jokes in hyper-animated
gestures or touch football.  As we age, we group mainly at
work, again in sedentary pursuits like gossiping about pay
raises or worrying about lay-offs and downsizings over a
fattening lunch.   At home, it's a perfunctory interaction or
two with the family, TV and lights out. Sound familiar?

3.
Marriage. Let's face it. We let it go. Have you heard the
Number One Tell-tale sign that someone is cheating on their
spouse?  They start to lose weight. They start to take care
of themselves. Gyms, new underwear.  After we marry, we
rejoice that we can finally stop trying to impress him/her.  
As a result, we stop impressing ourselves too.

4.
Cars.  Back in the day when I was a Coke bottle, I
walked. Had to. Couldn't afford a car.

5.
Kids. Contrary to popular opinion, kids do not keep you
young. If  driving kids around all day kept you young, then
what happened to Britney Spears?  Okay, bad example. But
here's my point. Running around all day after your kids
keeps
them fit. It stresses you out. And stress adds inches
around the middle. See
Metabolic Syndrome.

6.
We stop dancing. Remember when we danced? We
would see each other, swap the latest steps, imitate the
stars? Go out on Saturday night, try out what we had been
practicing. Some of us had cheerleading routines, some of
us pretended we were the Supremes. It all made us fit.  
Now, when I ask some of my friends when was the last time
they danced, I get the response, "Dance? You mean,
dance,
dance, not dance like at a wedding reception? God, really
dance, dance? Oh, please, I don't know." Or they screw up
their face and give me that old childhood taunt.
"Pluh-eezee, Lou-eeeeze! I don't remember. What'd you
ask that for?"

Why do we go soft in the middle? Because we first go soft
in the head. We forget that gathering in groups is good for
us. It makes us less isolated. It keeps us active. We forget
that walking to do our daily chores makes them go easier.
We forget that the man or woman we fell in love with is still
worth dressing up for, still worth looking good for.  We
forget that the mirror doesn't lie to us. We lie to it.  We
forget to dance.





If you liked this article, you might also like:

Foods That Shrink Your Waist

Normal Waist Size Chart

Ideal Weight Chart for Women
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