Maybe It’s Not the Fat – Maybe It’s Old Age

I am fat.  I have been fat my whole life.  My mother was fat.  Both my maternal and fraternal grandmothers were fat.  Born to be wide.  

And now I’m getting old.  56 this year (yikes).  I now weigh somewhere around 350+.  I’ve never been so old, and I’ve never been so fat.

And I have never had any health problems related to fat.  Blood pressure – fine; cholesterol – better than fine (my numbers are so good the doctor can’t believe it); blood glucose – fine – until this year, and still I am right on the cusp of diabetic. 

But I now notice that I get tired a lot easier.  I ache.  My back seems to give me more trouble.  I do a lot more grunting and groaning when I get up.  But I do get up.  I can get up and down from the floor.  And I can even get my fat ass out of the bathtub.  At 350+, I want to (and sometimes do) say “ta-dah” when I get out of the tub.

So I have to ask myself.  Is it the fat or is it the number of years I’ve been on this planet?  Is it a combination of both?  And I don’t know the answer.  And it kind of bothers me.  I don’t trust the healthcare industry to give me an unbiased answer; and I need advice on how to minimize the problems — other than lose weight (useless advice, since nobody knows how to achieve long-term weight loss).  So all I can do is try to figure this out myself, and see what other people in the fat community have to say about their own experience. 

Right now, because I work full time, and go to school, I don’t have the time or energy to engage in my usual form of regular exercise — I usually do a couple of musicals each year and if you don’t think that’s not exercise, try it.  I have been taking out my tap shoes every now and then and doing fat-lady tap (you don’t try to catch air/no hops or jumps going on); which I enjoy and is a pretty good workout. 

Since there is no known way for me to achieve long-term weight loss (and I don’t even know if that’s the real problem — certainly there is no way to achieve long-term not aging), all I can do is try to keep strong.  I’ve always been a very strong person.  And I don’t like the idea of me becoming less strong – but that happens when you get old, right?  I don’t want to fight getting old — it should be a goodness.  A new adventure.  And besides, you can’t win.  Time is going to keep marching on whether I like it or not (I just wish it would remove it’s cleats!). 

So here’s to all of us old fatties and here’s to all fatties keeping strong and being well.

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11 thoughts on “Maybe It’s Not the Fat – Maybe It’s Old Age

  1. I don’t have the time or energy to engage in my usual form of regular exercise

    Suggestion: It might be the exercise lack, or exercise lack and age. My general aches and pains certainly increase when I haven’t been exercising much. (Of course, starting an exercise program can also cause some aches as your muscles adapt!)

  2. You’re right, it’s impossible to tell whether it’s the years or the fat, and that’s medical science letting us down. We need better information.

    To some extent you have to judge for yourself, surely, and adjust for yourself. Last year I remember thinking it WASN’T reasonable to always feel so tired and run-down just because I was past forty. I changed my eating habits and essentially restored my health. Weight loss (there was some) was ancillary, and fortunately I have an understanding doctor who understood it as such. It was clear that the problem was my upward-creeping blood pressure, not weight per se. But I wonder how many people have the self-awareness – and the good doctor! – to be able to tackle a problem in quite that way.

    And when it DOES start to be age and not some other issue, how will I know for sure? Because the TV, magazines, etc all try to tell me I can be as active and fit as I want basically forever. Which I know isn’t true from friends who report how much pain and effort it is to keep up their exercise regimens into their 50s and 60s.

  3. So I have to ask myself. Is it the fat or is it the number of years I’ve been on this planet? Is it a combination of both? And I don’t know the answer. And it kind of bothers me. I don’t trust the healthcare industry to give me an unbiased answer

    I don’t trust them, either. We love to blame on weight things that are better explained by other factors.

    I’ve been amazed at how many pregnancy complaints are blamed on “the extra weight of pregnancy.” I’ve seen heartburn, acid reflux, swelling, shortness of breath, pelvic pain, and low energy all blamed on “the extra weight.” That is complete and total B.S. I am currently 37 weeks pregnant and have gained 9 pounds the entire time. I have weighed 15 pounds more when not pregnant than what I weigh now. And I can assure that, when I was 15 pounds heavier than I am now but NOT nine months pregnant, I didn’t have acid reflux, my ankles weren’t swollen, my pelvis didn’t hurt, and I wasn’t getting short of breath after walking less than a mile. It’s not the 9 pounds I gained that have me so uncomfortable, it’s the fact that I’ve got a 6-7 pound (at this point) baby taking up residence where my stomach and lungs used to live in peace. I’m at the point where if I see one more thing attributed (not, thank goodness, by my doctor!) to the “extra weight of pregnancy,” I’ll scream. Do we really think that fat is so much the cause of every possible discomfort that pregnancy woes are caused by gaining a few pounds, and not by the fact that the woman’s uterus expands to like a gazillion times its normal size?

    And the same happens with aging. Every single complaint/concern associated with aging we now assume is due to weight. It’s absurd. I think we all know that people with a BMI of 18 do not skip happily through old age with no aches and pains before they drift off peacefully into death at 110. I don’t know a single older person who doesn’t have aches and pains. My skinny MIL can’t get up from the floor without help (she’s 60). Every adult on my mother’s side of the family over about 40, regardless of size, is on medication for high blood pressure, and nearly everybody on my husband’s side of the family needs cholesterol medication as they age (again, regardless of size). The “it’s all because of the fat” message we get from the media and so many medical professionals just seem extremely out of touch with actual reality.

  4. And you aren’t old yet, lady, just older than you ever have been. I have CP & arthritis &, yes, I have more pain with age, which is helped by makig sure, in my case, to get up & move around frequently. I don’t just mean exercise, because that has never been an issues for me (I am more likely to over-exercise than under-exercise), but because of the CP & arthritis, I have always stiffened up if I sit in one place/position any length of time, & it is a bit more noticeable with age.

    I am 60, btw, from a family of fat women who have lived well into their late 80’s to mid-90’s. Maybe if you try to move gently & moderately every day…& all movement counts…it will help some. However, from what I have seen for myself & also of other aging people of ALL sizes & shapes, having somewhat more aches & pains with aging is normal & virtually unavoidable. The man I love has always been a tall, lean, well-muscled natural athletic & he is slowing down gradually too, with chronic pain in his knees & ankles from years of water-skiing, surfing, soccer, football, etc., & generally more aches & pains; he feels it more than he used to when he works his muscles harder than usual & he tires more easily; he will be 51 next month. No, it isn’t fat, it is life, it is aging, & it is pretty normal. Regular exercise does help some, but there is no cure.

  5. My first thought agrees with living400lbs’ comment: it’s been my experience that if you have been exercising regularly, and you stop, it can feel just awful. I’m about 10 years younger than you, and I know that if I can’t get in at least some exercise, some form of movement, my body lets me know how unhappy that makes it and it feels old and creaky and worn out. (And I’m only 45!)

    As I watch the age-related changes in my own body, it has brought home that I need to concentrate on what I can do to be stronger right now, with my capabilities today – and not spend energy thinking about what I used to be able to do in the past or what I might not be able to do in the future. When I write “can”, that encompasses not just physical ability, but also mental, time constraints, and all the other parameters that factor in to a real world schedule.

  6. Thank you for making me laugh out loud tonight.

    A gleeful “ta-dah!” after hauling my 340 lb ass out of the tub will now be a part of my bathing ritual.

  7. Both of my parents are turning 55 this year. My mom, who was always thin through life and is only now slightly ‘overweight’ after having two kids, a hysterectomy, and general aging. She is in pain all the time — bad arthritis. She has trouble sleeping. She also was diagnosed with high blood pressure.

    My father was always ‘fat’ (with the exception of short diversions into Jenny Craig-land, and Jenny’s equally-evil stepsister diets), and he is healthy as a damned horse. No blood sugar issues. No heart issues. No pain. The only health issues he’s had in the past few years were a broken wrist and some smoking-related issues (though he did quit again, so that he could sing).

    Everyone ages differently. I think fat gets blamed on everything and the kitchen sink and the baby that got thrown out with the bathwater &etc ad nauseam…which makes it difficult for us to really truly recognize our individual, unique health profiles.

  8. It’s very likely age. You can try to be more active. Staying as strong as you can is key. My grandmother has been thin all her life and is now almost 80, and she has aches and pains all the time. Nothing major, just random, little things. Our bodies are like machines; they can get the job done for decades, but throughout that time, parts will wear out or break down or need fixing/replacing, etc. There is no shame in that; it’s just reality.

  9. Pingback: Is it fat or lack of exercise? « Living ~400lbs

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