“I love your muffin top!” said no midlife woman to another, ever.
At some point during midlife, your periods will stop – that’s certain.
Almost as certain is that at some point between the ages of 45 and 60, you'll gain weight – yes, even if you eat well and exercise regularly.
Keeping the weight we gain at midlife is not inevitable if you take massive action, however, if almost all women gain weight at this time, logic would suggest that there’s an evolutionary advantage to some midlife spread.
Several large scientific studies have argued that being slightly overweight appears to be protective from midlife onward (see this Danish study and this American study featured on CBS 60 Minutes.)
But in the West, jumping a dress size, filling up your figure-hugging workout clothes with some extra pounds or the appearance of a muffin top hanging over a pair of jeans, is generally not considered good news.
My personal muffin top, with its origins in three pregnancies and births, is expanding – slowly but surely – and I’m trying not to complain. Instead, I’m showing my body some muffin top love, because why would I want to send negative energy to any part of my body?
Just as I was pondering muffin tops, what might be their evolutionary advantage, the interaction between muffin tops and gaining midlife wisdom, this article arrived in my inbox – perfect timing!
“FIGURE COMPETITION CHAMPION AND [FITNESS] COACH KIMBERLY DOEHNERT SHARES HER SECRETS ON WEIGHT CONTROL DURING MENOPAUSE."
In the article, Dr Siebel, who calls HIMself “your menopause mentor” interviews the body builder and IFBB Figure Pro champion Kimberly Doehnert, who is helping women “combat the menopause muffin top.”
I assume that Doehnert has good intentions – to encourage women to embrace fitness. Yet during the interview, she promotes ideas that can make women feel bad about their bodies during midlife. This can increase stress and in turn aggravate perimenopause and menopause symptoms.
In the interview, when Doehnert says:
If you’re a woman in your 40s and you say, 'When I was 150 [lbs], things were awesome in my life”
The message is: When you weigh less, life is awesome.
When Doehnert says:
Your waist is your navel… if that part of the belly goes down, life is good. But if you’ve got a muffin top, life is not as nice, right?
The message is: life sucks if your waist expands.
When Doehnert says:
I think that any woman, it doesn’t matter stage or no stage [i.e. competing in a bikini competition or not], you’re always somewhere in the spotlight.
The message is: get ready to be objectified, forever!
It’s so exhausting and relentless!
And yet, I’m not suggesting that you should work to build up your muffin top by sitting on the couch all day and eating ice-cream (or muffins), and I’m not saying that if weight lifting and competing in a bikini completion gives you real pleasure then you shouldn’t pursue it, but I'm asking: when will this disdain for our bodies stop?
When will we be able to finally look our bodies and say: I take care of you and I love you, yes, muffin top and all!
Which leads me to Seinfeld’s classic Muffin Top Episode. It’s where Elaine describes a muffin top as a part of the muffin which “breaks free of the pan and sort of does its own thing.”
Isn’t that a great analogy for midlife?