Waist Not

I’ll be honest.  I think my face looks pretty good for 44.  It’s got lines around the eyes, and some saggy stuff near the mouth so I’ve learned to work a smile since it hides the droopies.  I’ve known for a couple years that if I bend over and look down on something, the skin around my eyeballs sag to the point you think I’m going to burst a vein.  Or an eyball.  I’ve handled this sensitive factoid by not bending over things too much.  Instead I glamorously tilt my head back at a confident, vaguely mocking angle and smile with warm amusement.  It’s a youthful pose and I shall work it forever.

But there’s something else going south, and it’s not something I can fix by smiling mockingly.

Please lean close.  I don’t want anyone else to hear this.  But, I don’t have a waist anymore

It’s true.  It’s gone.  have something else instead.  It’s a pot-belly, not like a pot-belly pig, but like a jelly roll belly.

I didn’t mind the super soft super stretched stomach skin when it could be squished inside my jeans, or flattened by a nice wide thick stylish belt.  But there’s more than there used to be, and as I’m carrying extra poundage, not even hardcore jeans and sturdy leather belts help.  No, the snug jeans and gut-cinching belts are just making it impossible for me to sit.  And breathe.

I don’t eat that much, either.

I mean, I eat.  I’m not a starver.  I eat 5-6 meals a day but they’re small, kind of like snack meals and even my sandwiches are only one-sided with a single slice of bread (so very European).  I do all the tricks like non-fat dairy, except for my half-in-half in my morning coffee.  I’ve cut out sodas, even diet sodas, and drink green tea instead of the second cup of coffee.  But lately, the tricks and sensible eating seems pointless.

I’m turning flabby.  And rolly.  And nothing fits.   I want my waist back.   The good one, the nice one, not this one that screams middle age.

Last week in Hawaii I did a photo shoot for More Magazine.  They’re using me in their July/Aug issue in the regular column called, “Firsts After 40”.  My first was learning to surf after forty.  And for the photo, I had to stand on, or with a surfboard, in a two piece suit.  Yes, me photographed for a magazine in a bikini heavier than I’ve been in probably four years.  I was so nervous about the shoot.  I dreaded it.  Felt so much anxiety that I was eating Cold Stone ice cream almost every night for four days before the shoot.  (Like It size, though, please.)

Everybody who worked on the shoot was wonderful.  The photographer flew in from Maui, and the Austrian make up artist and hair stylist was very cool.  The stylist curled my hair and mascaraed my lashes.   Blushed my cheeks.  Glossed my lips.  But nothing could be done about my waist.  I tried to tell myself it didn’t matter.  That I wasn’t a professional model.  That I’m a mom and writer and I’ve just been through a failed in-vitro attempt.  I’m carrying some serious extra progesterone in my butt.  

You may rightfully ask, So why didn’t you lose the weight before the shoot, Jane?  You had a month between the end of the in-vitro cycle and the shoot.

And I’ll tell you.  I did try.  Every fifth day I attempted exercise and every third day I slathered some self-tanner lotion on the thighs and gut.  But it was hard to do more.  I cared, but didn’t care.  I cared in the way that I wanted a Fairy Godmother to wave a magic wand and just make me tone and taut and dimple free.  She didn’t materialize.  Not even to shape a waist.

So during the shoot on the Waikiki beach, I did what I do best. 

I held my head up, lifted my chin, and smiled my slightly mocking, rather amused smile.  


  1. Jane,
    I am with you girl! I will be 43 in July. It seems as though suddenly my pants have become tighter around my waist. I’m not eating any more than normal. Actually, I really watch what I eat and like you, eat several small meals throughout the day. That’s what the experts say to do, right? Well, it feels like a losing battle. I normally do 2 miles a day on the treadmill. Over the past 4 months I have raised my distance to 3 miles a day, to no avail. I suppose we have to accept that along with new lines appearing around our eyes and mouth, our waistline is becoming a long lost friend. At least we have our good health!

  2. Oh jeez, Jane! Do I hear ya! I’m a 40’s gal and was telling a friend that I didn’t know what was happening but nothing in my closet fit! Everything was waaay tight and I hated it. She said–hate to tell you, but it’s mid-life stuff.

    Boo! I too care ’bout doing lots of stuff, but seriously the idea of that Fairy Godmother waving a wand or helping sure sounds good to me, cuz, well, it’s just harder!

    Good for you for going for it, Jane! And you look great–don’t sweat it!


  3. Oh Jane, let us drink our coffee with half and half, let us look at these lines and think of all the smiles that caused them,let us not anguish over the saggy skin but think of the children that caused the expansion, and let us be grateful for those things that can never age…like love, and laughter. P.S…52 isn’t a walk in the park either. Just keep smiling!
    Lots of love, P.

  4. I don’t know anyone who would feel okay about posing for a magazine in a two piece bathing suit. The very thought makes my head spin!

    That said, I am quite sure you will look gorgeous. You always do!

  5. Jane,

    Loved this post! I am 45 and unlike you, I look in the mirror and my face shows all of hours of too much tanning with baby oil and a foil blanket! I am self-conscious about the wrinkles, the falling eyebrows and the saggy jowly stuff. Uck. I have to do lots of self talk, daily. I thought you looked so adorable on your Xmas card! And yes, been down that progesterone road too and it is awful after IVF!

  6. This entry is the BEST!!! WE love you for saying in a humorous and real way what we think and don’t know how to say about ourselves. You make us feel not crazy and well… ok.

    I have a really big party that I’m attending with a pretty special author on May 6th and I would sure like to be skinny for it! Is your Fairy Godmother for rent???

  7. Jane,

    Boy, do I get what you’re saying. I was a fat teenager (we’re talking REALLY FAT – 300 lbs. when I graduated from high school). And though I’ve been at a normal weight for the past 32 years (I’m 52 now), there is still that “fat part” of me that follows wherever I go. Sometimes that FAT inner voice kicks in and won’t shut up, and I feel myself headed for the PLOMs (“Poor Little Ole Me”). That’s when I try and remember what I’ve learned from the 12 step recovery program I belong to that addresses eating disorders. There’s a saying we have for those times you get down on yourself and your body image, and feel it’s just no use:


    When you’re feeling down about your little belly bulge, Jane, let others be your mirror. Trust what they are telling you, and remember that we think you are GORGEOUS. Trust us when you can’t trust yourself.

    It might not be the Fairy Godmother you’re looking for, but it works if you work it. It really does.


  8. Ehh. You look pretty fit to me. Trust me. You’re probably more fit than most girls my age. I’m sure you look amazzzinnngggg.. =)

  9. I just had to add my comment on lost waist! I turned 40 last year and I have already lost my waist! I just went to buy bigger shorts! I workout 5 days a week but its in my genetics. My Mom is thin but is thick in the stomach and so was my grandmother. I cannot belive it goes so quickly. Keep up he great books!

  10. Jane, you’re a real woman, with a real life and career that isn’t centered constantly around beauty routines. Those models get paid to work out and don’t have the two adorable children you do. You looked great when we met! You obviously care about your health and it shows. I’ve taken care of a lot of kids and there weren’t many moms who looked as good as you do…and I worked at a gym! So chin up and smile that smile that lights up the room 🙂

  11. Jane.

    PRETTY GOOD for 44? You are a beautiful woman, and I’m sure you nailed the photo shoot.

    I just finished Flirting with 40 and loved it from page to page. I’m 32, but was divorced at 26 and married my Kai. We live on a tropical island and still keep surfing as part of our routine! 🙂

    I didn’t want the book to end.

  12. Leave it to you, Jane to make me laugh until I cry. You are a fabulous, beautiful woman. You have been for as long as I’ve known you.

    We just have to tell ourselves that we are like fine wine, we get better with age. (And hopefully smarter.)

  13. Wow. I love your honesty. I’m 52 and I think it was always hardest when I had the initial evidence that I was indeed getting older. Like when I was in my early 40’s and men started to turn my down as a serious dating partner because I was “too old to have kids with”… so I accepted that I would probably not have kids… and it freed me… it took so much weight off my shoulders… so much worrying about finding the right guy in time…. And then later when I started to have more wrinkles and noticing the face sag when I leaned down … at first it was shocking (“not me!”)… but then I accepted my age and started telling everyone my age right up front instead of trying to avoid the subject and hide my real age…and again it was so free-ing. Of course I still want to look good but when I see things on my body that aren’t “beautiful” I don’t get real bummed – I just accept that I am 52… and each age has pros and cons. I didn’t like the anxiety I use to have as a younger person… I’ve learned so much since then and am 1000 times more relaxed inside… I’ll take the wrinkles and saggy skin over the anxiety any day!

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