“Do I look fat in this dress?” It is a common question asked by women in many households.  The usual victim/recipient of this question is the husband.  I don’t know if any husband can answer this question with complete honesty.  I am guilty of asking this question once or twice, ok, many times of my own husband and he has told me a few times, “Maybe that isn’t the best outfit for you.” We all know what that means, that is code for, yes, your butt may look a little big in that dress. You check the mirror yourself, smooth out your clothes on your backside, frown, an realize that he may be right.

          It is a hard reality to acknowledge the death of the flat tummy and the tight butt of your twenties. Instead of mourning, you decide to make a change. For the next few days, you eat a little better, maybe hit the gym, or take a walk around the block. You weigh yourself on the scale and see that your few days of eating well and exercising hasn’t wiped off the 5 pounds you hoped it would. You decide, it is too late, and quit eating well and exercising.

          That, friends, is a colossal mistake. I started exercising late in my life, probably about twenty-seven, after noticing that the rigors of law school had taken a toll on my body. I knew I had to make a change in my habits. My new routine included going to the gym a couple days a week and watching what I ate. The pounds did come off and I was at a happy weight. After having a baby, there were new struggles. I struggled with losing “baby” weight. Losing this additional weight required even more exercise and watching every bite I decided to put in my mouth. My goal in losing weight centered around my appearance. As shallow as it made sound, I just wanted to look good in my pre-pregnancy outfits. Exercising for my health was secondary.

             In the last five years, my outlook on exercise changed.  It happened from an unlikely source – my father. My father also came to exercise late. He started exercising in his mid-thirties and his regimen was simple.  Everyday he walked around the block for three miles.  When my father was diagnosed with cancer, he had less than twenty percent chance of making it past the next year. The only reason he lived for four years after his diagnosis was because he wasn’t battling the usual problems associated with lack of exercise. He wasn’t overweight, didn’t have diabetes, and wasn’t battling blood pressure.  I  am not naive, I know luck, chemotherapy, and radiation prolonged his life, but I believe his daily walk had some part in helping him live longer despite his disease.

            So, on occasion, I still ask my husband about how I look in a certain outfit, but these days my appearance is not what means the most. It is my health.