Body image – even the phrase is frightening. I’ve been watching two men who are close to my age talking about “people watching” which is what they call looking at young women. Their observations are quite detailed and one supposes also accurate. Two of my blogging friends have mentioned their body image vis-à-vis eating disorders with one forgetting to eat because of stress and one worried about stress eating undoing all the hard work she has accomplished in the last few months.

A long time ago – a very long time ago – I was younger and played between eight and ten hours of racquetball a week. I had an active job and two kids running around. I was fit and muscular. I weighed between 120 and 125 and vowed I would never weigh over 130.

I got older. My kids grew up and I stopped playing racquetball. I got a different, sedentary job. I weighed 145. But I still had red hair courtesy of Clairol. In a country where the average size is a bit bigger than that and goes much higher, I was still not considered “fat”. I would walk down the street, men would apprise the look from the back, sneak a look at the front and see “old” and that’s when I finally did something. I stopped coloring my hair. I was tired of seeing disgust and shock. Yeah, nice ass even in larger pants and without squats, but wrinkles. Disgusting.

The gray hair stopped that nonsense. Now I was completely invisible. Gray hair on men is distinguished and means the old goats might have had time to get some money and/or power. Gray hair on women just means old, but at least I warned them from the back and they knew they didn’t even have to glance backwards and see wrinkles and be disgusted.

But I didn’t like what was happening to me. In my head I’m still 35 which is quite difficult because I have a son older than that. And I felt fat to me. I weighed more than I had when I was nine months pregnant. I had to do something. Perhaps it was mid-life crisis. Perhaps it was boredom. Perhaps it was rampant stupidity. I don’t know what happened, but I joined CrossFit.

I was there for over a year before I signed up to do the Whole Life Challenge and I was forced to look at my entire lifestyle and make some changes – at least for the time of the Challenge. I had to eat cleaner although it wasn’t true Paleo. I was permitted to cheat a bit on my easy level. I did what was required and by the end of the challenge, for the first time in a couple decades, I was under my “top limit” of 130 pounds. I was down to 125 – my old fighting weight.

Frankly, it was too hard to keep – sorry Nicole. It wasn’t worth it. I love chocolate and potato chips. Denying myself these simple pleasures forevermore wasn’t worth it. I have chocolate every single day, but I savor it, cherish it, make it last. A serving sized bit of luscious, delicious, creamy milk chocolate can last me for nearly a week. Potato chips are doled out in small serving bowls. I have the occasional ice cream and sometimes even with Velvet Fudge Sauce. I eat potatoes and pasta.

A year later and I still use almond milk in my coffee. I am aware of portion control. I know that my treats are treats and must be savored or they aren’t worth the time, effort, or calories. I know that everything I worked for was worth it, but not to extremes. I weighed 130.6 today. I have consistently held this weight all year. I’m not losing control, but measuring out the treats and still maintaining my weight.

After thousands of squats, those jeans (if I could find some that actually fit) would look even better from the back. I’m powerful and strong – not for a girl, but for an old fart. My numbers are crap when measured against the younger gym rats, but are amazing when measured against the normal old person. Before the year ends, I will be old enough to collect Social Security. I’m retiring at the beginning of next year. I’m not getting any younger.

And now, instead of just being free of all outside assessment, I’m invisible. I’m an old woman in a society that reveres youth and power and I have neither. I’m not sure what the question is so I don’t have any answers. I think all this thinking about body image has led me to a conclusion. My body is and always has been a way for my brain to get information. It is a handy carrying case for my intellect. I don’t need the approval of anyone else and never have. I have been given a chance to learn and understand.

What I know for sure is that the small bits of chocolate are worth the extra weight that only I am aware of. I know that people who love me do so not because of the shape of my ass but because of the light of my personality. I know that the person who needs to learn to love me the most – is me. Even as an old fart, I’m okay.