CBATG for the exact quote I’m afraid, but it’s Ben Gunn in Treasure Island, in case you can.*
A conversation that Blue Witch and I are having in the comments column from a couple of days ago has prompted this post, which is on the thorny problem of losing weight in middle age, and what weight you should be.
I was quite slim – size 8-10 (English size, of course, I think that means 4-6 in Transatlantic terms) and I’ve always eaten properly, just not very much. When I started to cook for my mother too (which I did on and off for the last nine years of her life) the style of what we ate altered to accommodate her needs. Because there were various things she was unable to eat, I did more of the things she could – not at all an interesting subject to go into and I won’t … basically, nothing wrong with any of it but not the pattern that suited me. Furthermore, she became unhappy and depressed and I was the person on the spot, and it was quite difficult. It was, perhaps, not altogether surprising that I gained a couple of stone over a decade.
Thing is, that’s not much in a year. Negligible difference over a week or two. Quite hard to reverse. And there have been some advantages. When I was thin, I didn’t have much stamina. I was strong and energetic, but when I’d used up the strength it took days to recover. And if I got up too quickly, I got dizzy and had to sit down again. Sometimes, I was so woozy that I had to lie on the floot until the buzzing in my ears went away and the room stopped spinning round. Now, I can keep going for ever and am never dizzy. So I’d come to terms with the downside, which is a measure of distinct porkiness. It used to be said that, after forty, you choose between your face and your figure, too – I know a few people who have lost weight in middle age and they gained a lot of wrinkles. I also achieved a cleavage for the first time, going from an A cup to a discreet D.
There’s another thing that reconciled me. My father died suddenly when my mother was 46, and she lost a lot of weight. She wasn’t that big but she became very thin in a few weeks and she retained most of the weight loss. In later years, although her bones were otherwise strong, she lost several inches in height and her back became quite bent. I’m sure a lot of this was due to what equated to a crash diet at a tricky age. I’m short enough already and don’t want to lose what I’ve got.
The doctor is insistent that I eat healthily and not lose weight quickly – I suspect he reckoned he had said enough already and decided not to mention bone density on this occasion. I won’t eat such fripperies as chocolate, biscuits, pastry etc – but they aren’t actually a major part of my diet anyway. So I’ve cut out cheese. That’s dairy products gone then, as I don’t use milk except in cooking, and not often that (cheese sauce, mostly, so that’s gone). Dark green vegetables, kidney beans and the like, yes, but that’s not enough calcium.
Oh damn. I’m off to buy plain yoghurt and some calcium tablets. And maybe the butcher will give me a nice juicy bone.
*Oh, hell, I’ve looked it up. “many’s the long night I’ve dreamed of cheese–toasted, mostly”. I wasn’t far out.