Last night, The Man and I were chatting in bed. He was setting his alarm and telling me about his class tomorrow that has proven to be a breaking point for a lot of probies in the academy. It’s apparently the first day where the physical demands are comparatively extreme.

Lying there in my hot pink tank top and Soffee shorts with my kindle on my stomach, I notice how my belly has gotten softer, my thighs wider. I am not heavier than I used to be, but I’m one of those women who gains fluff around her midsection first. And so, it hit me:

I used to be hot.

After I had cancer, I started doing Kettlebell Kickboxing at Anderson’s Martial Arts in SoHo. Prior to the cancer, I had been working out at the Chinatown Sports Club. Pre-cancer, I was roughly 103 pounds of solid muscle. The Kettlebell Kickboxing shaped a body and soul that had gone through surgery and radioactive iodine. At 26, I was lean, curvier than earlier and a solid 115. I loved it!

On my 26th birthday.

After moving from Manhattan to Queens, I started running, and, thankfully, that is enough for me to keep this little body reasonably attractive! Well, I kind of stopped all of that. After a shin fracture, and a crippling toe injury, I would get wrapped up in trying to indulge my creative side, I would get depressed or stressed out, and other things happen that make me not want to work out.

Then there’s The Man.

He’s always been gorgeous. Ugh! It’s disgusting! You know when you see those beautiful people in the world and you have thoughts that parallel “That’s just not fair!”? That’s what I have to deal with on a daily basis with this guy.

But with the fire department call always looming, he has been keeping his body in better shape than when we first started dating. His chest has been getting bulkier, his shoulders wider, his thighs thicker. He’s getting in better shape, and I’m not.

Women, by nature (or perhaps it really is centuries of “nurturing” us into body image stress), stress about maintaining an attractive appearance. Whether it is single women competing with other women, women trying to satisfy internal issues, women trying to obtain and maintain a partner, or any of the other myriad possibilities for wanting to be beautiful and sexy, it exists and is a daily struggle.

By no stretch of the imagination do I think I “let myself go” once The Man and I settled into our little life together. But when I sit there and reflect on what I used to be, it’s a little disappointing. Here my partner is, reaching his physical prime, looking all sexy and whatever. Then there I am, a little softer, a little more bottom-heavy than I used to be.

With work worries on my mind, and money a daily stress, I am choosing not to join a gym to remedy this situation. Instead, I am utilizing the gym products with which The Man has filled our apartment. I’m not sitting around and crying about this realization, but this new life will probably keep reminding me to keep this body in check.

I promise I will be the master of the perfect pushup, dammit!

At 29. I know how to dress to hide my softer midsection.
At 29. Hiding my softer midsection pretty well.