Eleanor Black: Complaints about middle-age, and what I'm doing about it

JASON DORDAY/Stuff.co.nz

Columnist Eleanor Black's new column in the Sunday Star Times is all about taking care of the middle-aged body and feeling good about it.

OPINION: Mother Nature is a smug little number isn't she?

I sailed through 40 with nary a pause. I didn't feel any different, really, and the mental load associated with crossing into a category I had been taught to dread — Middle Age, land of shelf-bosomed matrons and desperate dudes in penis cars — didn't compute. I did not identify with any of it, so I didn't care.

Now I am 43 and something is up. I am so tired. All the time. Some days I don't actually know how I am going to scrape up all my ageing parts, assemble them into something resembling the woman I used to be, and get out the door.

Turning 40 was fine. 43? Not so much.

Turning 40 was fine. 43? Not so much.

I use up my precious energy staying chipper and productive at work, ticking off my list at the supermarket, hosting playdates for my children, catching up with friends — and most people are hoodwinked. They think I am nice. My husband knows the truth: I am a massive crankypants, someone who'd live under a bridge in a fairy tale, terrify the villagers and cackle as they ran away screaming. I would welcome it.

*How to avoid a midlife middle
*Michelle Bridges is 43: What's her secret?
*We try Body Boss: Do fast, at home workouts really work?

I have lots of complaints. My hair is falling out. My muscles are disappearing. Walking the dog is no longer a legitimate weight-loss strategy. My skin is breaking out and going kinda crepey at the same time. My short-term memory is patchy and unreliable. My stomach insinuates itself over the top of my waistband when I sit in the car. I can no longer get away with eating cheese and crackers for dinner. If I drink more than two glasses of wine I lose my mind.

I am ashamed to say I have started paying attention to shouty positive people with headband microphones, like Tony Robbins. Do they have the secret after all? Are they living their best lives, jumping on those mini trampolines and drinking green juice, while I merely survive? I am open to that possibility. I am fed up with feeling fed up, so I am trying new things. I even bought a journal to record my goals.

I don't believe in Marie Kondo, but I have pared my wardrobe back to just those items that flatter me as I am, not as I might be in a year's time if I stop eating mayonnaise and start doing hot yoga. Assuming that any physical activity is better than slumping on the sofa in a stupor, I attempt to grab little bits of exercise here and there, like tapas for the body. If I had any get up and go whatsoever I might investigate the body tapas idea and see if I could monetise it, cos I have definitely seen worse fitness schemes.

Anyway, I can't go on like this, mean and bloaty with pants that don't fit. I am going to approach the problem of my unfit, moody, overwhelmed 40s in the same way I approach anything: research the s... out of it, try what sounds fun, and hope for a brighter tomorrow. Why don't you join me?

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 - Stuff


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