I’ve never been one of those women who spends a lot of time worrying about her age. I didn’t freak out as my 30th birthday approached and I’ve never felt the desire to lie about how old I am. For the most part, I’m happy about where I am in my life. And there is definitely something to be said for how much more comfortable I feel just being me the older I get.
But there is one aspect of being in my 30s that I absolutely loathe, and it’s something I was definitely warned about. I just never took those warnings seriously.
Until it happened to me. Until my metabolism drastically dropped, seemingly out of nowhere.
I’d obviously heard women talking about this before, about how entering their 30s had suddenly meant extra pounds being packed on that were harder to lose. But to be honest, I also always kind of assumed it was more laziness than metabolism that was affecting them. Surely these women weren’t really trying. After all, how hard is it to just eat healthy and exercise?
Well, it turns out, that part is mostly doable … it’s just not always as effective as it once was.
I started putting on weight last year in the summer, which was weird, because living in Alaska that’s when I tend to be the most active. I spend my summers running, hiking and doing just about anything that gets me outdoors. And while I have my vices when it comes to food (I’m a sucker for sea salt and dark chocolate-covered almonds), for the most part I eat pretty well. I eat lots of greens and fresh fruit, focus on whole foods and have a calorie intake that is well within the recommendations for my height and activity level.
Nothing about my life had changed except for the number on the scale. So what the hell was going on?
While I’d love to be all 'rah-rah, body positivity, love what you’ve got' about the whole thing, I don't know if I can be.
I tried to increase my workouts and to pay even closer attention to what I was eating. I say “tried,” because being a single mother does mean I have less time for workouts than I did in my 20s. But I was certainly making an effort. Only nothing was working. Not only could I not get these extra pounds to come off, but I was also still gaining.
For the record, that's kind of the most de-motivating thing ever. You try talking yourself into a salad and a workout when that’s exactly what you’ve been doing for the last month, yet the result has been more pounds, not less.
When that weight gain reached 10 pounds, I made an appointment with my doctor. Something was obviously wrong hormonally, I assumed. So I figured she would take some blood, tell me what was happening, and together we would come up with a solution.
That’s not what happened. I mean, she did run the blood work, but everything came back normal. And after talking to me for a while longer, my doctor got a sympathetic look on her face before saying, “Look, you’re getting older. Your metabolism is just slowing down. This is part of being in your 30s.”
It took everything in me not to punch her.
Unfortunately, I’ve come to believe she was right. A year later, my weight gain has at least stopped at the 15-pound mark—I don’t seem to be putting on anything more, at least not right now (knock on wood). But no matter what I try, I also can’t seem to rid myself of those 15 pounds.
And I’m starting to become resigned to it.
In my 20s, if I was partying too hard and realized I had put on weight as a result, it was easy enough to focus on healthy living for a month or two and get back to where I wanted to be. Now, in my 30s, I hardly ever drink and I live and eat FAR healthier than I ever did back then. My lifestyle actually changed for the good.
But it doesn’t seem to matter, because I’m bigger now than I ever was back then.
I’m not sure I’m ever going to get back down to where I was. And while I’d love to be all “rah-rah, body positivity, love what you’ve got” about the whole thing, I don't know if I can be. I don't like this new normal or the threat that it could potentially happen again. I don't like that my metabolism could plummet once more just because I’m getting older.
Add in the increased facial hair (What. The. Hell.) and adult acne (because, of course), and I'm starting to really believe that old adage about youth being wasted on the young. Because I definitely had no idea how good I had it back when achieving a tight body and perfect skin was as easy as taking a few days off drinking and hitting up the beach for a run.
There are a lot of things I love about my 30s, and being a mother tops that list. But this? This body of mine refusing to follow all the rules it has in the past? It's starting to piss me off.
I’m trying to focus on healthy and strong rather than numbers and pants sizes. But the truth is, I’m a bit bitter about this reality of my 30s.
It’s not like I wasn’t warned.
But that doesn’t make it suck any less.