Blinded By Belly Fat

Kimberly Collins
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Although it has been twenty-three years since I gave birth to a 9lbs, 10oz lovely baby girl, I still blame her for my belly fat. I look at pictures of me in my twenties showing off my sexy flat belly in bikinis and midriff tops. It wasn’t until my late twenties that I started to notice a slight bulge begin to emerge. I blamed it on a lack of exercise. I took for granted that for most of my life, I could eat as much as I wanted without gaining a pound. Losing it was never a problem. Plus, my sassy older aunt Christine told me, “Men like a little belly.” I thought I was good.

The truth is the older I became, the more the fat began to creep up on me and circle itself around me while I slept. I even wrote a poem called “Beyonce’ and the Body Snatchers” and performed it on YouTube telling Beyonce to give me my body back. I was convinced this was a conspiracy. I felt tricked by an optical illusion decade after decade until I woke up at 50. The loose flab hovering above and protecting my most private parts horrified me. I decided as part of my 50 things to do at 50, I would lose the belly fat and have a tasteful nude photo taken of me.

Twenty years after having my daughter, I began to think, it was now or never to get back to my pre-pregnancy body

I hired a personal trainer who threw away my chicken wings and worked me until my abs showcased more muscle then flab. I then fired the trainer and tried to go it alone. It has been a struggle ever since with me hiring and firing new trainers over and over again once I began to lose the weight.

Every time, I see Angela Basset or Michelle Obama, I renew my energy to lose the extra weight. That doesn’t last long. Eventually, I return to joking about it being “baby fat.” Yet, the feel of my belly sitting on my thighs, or the surprise I feel when I see my naked body makes me feel like I’ve just given up on me–especially when I compare myself to other women my age. In fact, on social media there are pictures of iconic stars over 50 who showcase their beautiful and timeless frames. Their fitness awed me. Until it occurred to me that the one thing all these women have in common are their bank accounts. They can afford to employ, and keep, personal chiefs, and trainers. Hell, if looking good was an essential part of my job, I wouldn’t be asking Beyonce’ to give me my body back!

Recently, I developed some old Kodak film I found buried away in a plastic bag on the top shelf of my closet. Once the pictures were developed, I was amazed to find pictures of me at 20, 30 and 40 years old. I looked good!

What and who was I comparing myself to in my late 20s when I thought I needed to lose 10 pounds, 20 pounds in my 30s, or 30 pounds in my 40s? There was actually a picture of me in my 30’s posing on the sands of St. Maartin in a bikini! In not one of these pictures did I look overweight.

What linked all of these pictures together? Me. I wore my body well and felt good enough to take the picture. The reflection smiling back at me was not thinking about losing weight or Beyoncé or Basset. I could say that some of my weight anxiety might be blamed on being single. But looking at those pictures, I clearly saw how my marital status had nothing to do with my size. But it did have everything to do with how I felt about my body weight as I aged. I shook my head in disbelief at all the time I wasted not appreciating my body in each decade.

Lost in comparing myself to others who looked how I thought I should look I missed out on me

I had buried my reflection and tucked it away at the top of my closet looking in other folks’ mirrors in search of me. A friend once said: “whenever you strike comparisons between yourself and others, you will always come up short.” I had neglected my own vision for so long I couldn’t see me.

I am still single, and I never took that picture when I turned 50. After breaking my toe and finding out from the doctor that I was 214 lbs, I lost 20 pounds not to get a man but to get back to a healthy me. I no longer care if I am able to compete with those Beyonce’ body types who are my age. I’m ready to strike a pose at any age.

 

Editors Note: The editors of Fiftiness thought this was an important message even as we strive to make change, one small step at a time to reach our goals, including our weight loss goals. We have to always remember to stop and appreciate where we are and who we are. From the music of Baz Luhrmann, Australian film director, screenwriter and producer, in his movie Romeo & Juliet, we are not as fat as we imagine!

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About Kimberly Collins

Kimberly A. Collins’ new manuscript, Bessie’s Resurrection is a composite of her study at Howard University and Spalding University. She teaches English at Morgan State University and writes a weekly blog: Wednesday Wisdom. Ms. Collins has one collection of Poetry, Slightly off Center. Her most recent poetry appears in: Pittsburg Poetry Review (forthcoming, Winter 2017);Revise the Psalm: The Gwendolyn Brooks Anthology (forthcoming, Fall 2017); Syracuse Cultural Workers’ 2017 Women Artist Datebook, Pittsburg Review, Truth Feasting, and Berkeley Review.

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