I’ve learnt a humbling lesson in recent weeks. I’ve learnt that all the fuss I used to make about how I put effort into my looks for myself; how the male appreciation it garnered was pleasant but purely incidental for I was the focus of my efforts; how it was to make me feel good that I did it and all that jazz is precisely that: jazz. There apparently is not a word of truth to it.
I’m trying to shed my maternity weight and I’ve done encouragingly well- 10 kilos in 4 weeks, with minimal exercise. Now I’ve got to the point that’s hardest – I no longer look appalling but I’m not as hot as I could be. It is tough because even if I never got any slimmer, I wouldn’t look bad- as my friend Liz put it- ‘for someone who has had two kids’. But seeing as I’ve never been able to content myself with being average –except in maths- that I look decent for ‘someone with 2 kids’ is not at all comforting. In fact it is downright depressing.
If there is a downside to having a husband who likes me for more than my admittedly fly figure and active participation in all matters connubial it is that its bad for weight loss regimes. Indeed marriage in general is very hard on a girl’s quest for sexiness. How do you force yourself to pass up on that glorious meal being placed in front of him? Or walk away from that chocolate? Not only do you have someone constantly doing what you are, by dint of sheer force of will, avoiding, he also thinks you are fabulous though you are fat.
I have had to concede that sexual admiration from men- in the plural- is a huge motivator, at least for me. It is hard to stay on the treadmill after the third minute when you know that all that exertion is for the appreciation of a single man who you have conquered already. I’ve never minced words about women who three years into marriage become frumps. Although I am now less puzzled by how that happens, I am no more empathetic. I maintain that it is good for a man never to be overly confident of his hold on his woman even in long term relationships. It keeps a bit of the chase in the game and the chase has a certain je ne sais quoi that is exciting for both the hunter and the prey. So I intend to continue to incite sexual interest and invitations even if I never take any up. To do that I must shed my fat, not because I believe fat women can’t get a man but because everyone, man or woman, has a size at which they hit maximum confidence in personal sex appeal; mine just happens to be a 10.
Today I took my first post pregnancy picture. Hunger is such an unpleasant thing and ignoring it is no easy job so I had started to weaken a little. Not to mention that all the surprised approving exclamations regarding my current borderline size12 were getting to my head. I was starting to feel quite the slender lissome one, my vigilance was slipping away. I have in the last week eaten supper late twice, cheese once and chocolate twice- the second time Maltesers. All of which are a far cry from the unrelenting bredze totoe and nkatse (roasted plantain with groundnuts) lunch and -if hunger overcame discipline – the meager supper that sucked those ten kilos off my body.
Considering the effort I put into the pre-picture preening I think my expectation of a wall-worthy piece was not unreasonable. Imagine my shame and disappointment when the most eye-catching thing in the photo was the massive arm which but for its attachment to a restraining ball joint might easily have been Captain Caveman’s cudgel.
Now a good deal of my resolve is restored. As the delectable and beautifully presented dinner was set out at table tonight, I held the CCC (Captain Caveman’s Cudgel) moment at the front of my mind’s eye and though I was not strong enough to spin on my heel and walk away from temptation, I stooped only to cereal- poor comfort when juxtaposed with the grilled-to-perfection fresh fish.
Cost what it will I will become that 10. Already there’s a new undercurrent of excitement and sexual tension with my husband. I doubt we will ever relive the scorching highs of our love’s first flames but if we both put enough effort into it, we should have sufficient fuel to keep the embers hot as long as it takes. I am in no doubt that two months after I’ve got where I want to be I will have lost all insight into the mental workings of the frumpy wife. My voice will carry, when speaking of them, a genuine bafflement and, I imagine, superciliousness at their sorry state. I feel no shame in this pomposity. Why should I? Everyone who has ever subjected themselves to the oppression of self-control and the drudgery of exercise will agree, I’m certain, that I am not only allowed, I am entitled.