Lorie Sheffer Debuts At Lane 8

Which Path Is The Right One?
Which Path Is The Right One?

I have said for years that weight isn’t our issue, health metrics are.

The same way the amount of money in your bank account isn’t the wealth indicator. We are wealthy when our monthly expenses are less than our monthly income.


Know the real goal and you can shun the loud and unfocused voices from the masses.

Today’s Lane 8 post is brought to you by a very special contributor from York, Pennsylvania. Lorie Sheffer and I were classmates from 1st though 12th grade.  Lorie’s wit and wisdom will get you thinking about you’re health attitudes and beliefs.  Take it away Lorie:

There is a new study saying that middle-aged women have to work out more than an hour a day in order to avoid flab. Unless, of course, you are very thin to begin with. I was intrigued. As I read the article, there was a comment that almost glowed, it stood out so much. The behavioral medicine expert who was being quoted was using the word “skinny” as if it were a good thing. Webster’s dictionary defines skinny as lacking sufficient flesh: very thin: emaciated. But hey, this guy’s the expert, so who am I to argue? I then went on to read that less than an hour of exercise is good for your health, “even if it won’t make you thin.”  I’m confused. Are we doing this to be healthy or are we chasing some idea of what we should look like? Who sets this standard?

As a woman who is looking her fifty first birthday straight in the eye, I actually have a better body image now than I did when I was in my early twenties. Back in the day, I smoked up to three packs a day, drank large amounts of highly sweetened iced tea and cola, and ate one meal a day, usually fast food drive thru or pizza. I drank more than I should have on weekends, smoked pot occasionally, and was very unskilled at managing my stress.  But hey, I looked damned good in a string bikini. Now, twenty-eight years later, I am much healthier. I don’t smoke, I eat healthy foods, and I am active. I don’t go to the gym, nor do I set up a work out or exercise schedule. I figure if walking on a treadmill counts, then surely mowing the lawn must count, too. The former makes me feel like a giant hamster, while the latter gives me a feeling of accomplishment. While I admire people who hit the gym, it’s not something that even remotely interests me. At all. Yes, the army corps of engineers may as well have constructed my swimsuit. I’m not twenty, nor do I care to be.

One of the very rare moments I felt bad about my body happened to coincide with my annual checkup with my Ob/Gyn of twenty-five years.  I told him that I felt fat. He said that yes, I had put on some weight over the years. Then he asked me the magic question: “Why are you concerned?” He pointed out that my blood pressure and heart rate were excellent, all of my blood work looked great, my mammograms had been clear over the years, and as far as he could tell I seemed to be in above average health. My God, I should be so very thankful for the body I have!  I’m not suggesting that thin women aren’t healthy. By the same token, heavier women aren’t necessarily UNhealthy, either.  Personally, I like my curves.  I have NO desire to starve myself into looking like one of the Real Housewives. This is where my body wants to be, and I accept that. What are middle aged women to think when a male “expert” comments that we can be healthy, but not “skinny”, like that is something we should be ashamed of? Isn’t health what we are after? Or is it really the expectation that, at middle age, we are supposed to look the same as our daughters?

When will we be able to open a magazine and see women who actually look like us? How am I supposed to tell what a dress will look like on me when the model wearing it is roughly the same size as one of the girls in my grandson’s fourth grade class?  I once read an article that said Picabo Street was too fat. This was while she was winning gold medals in skiing. Clearly she was IN shape, she just wasn’t the shape society decided was THE shape. When even Olympics athletes are seen, at the peak of their athletic careers, as “too heavy”, then I don’t think the problem is mine. I think maybe society needs to reassess its standard of “healthy”. Till then, I will go visit my slightly overweight aunt, who at eighty-eight years old is still mowing her own lawn.

By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.