Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Am I letting myself go?

Today is one of my favourite days of the month. It’s the day I run my ongoing group. I’ve been running this smallish group for a few years now and I enjoy every minute of it. What I love about it is that we talk about the things that really matter. We spend a whole morning (from 11am to 2pm) unpicking the challenges (and joys!) of every detail of our relationship with food and our bodies. There’s nothing we can’t or won’t talk about. Today one (among many) of the things we talked about was getting older - a subject dear to my heart as I am experimenting with and learning how to grow old gracefully, how to welcome the changes I see in my body, my energy, my mood, my tastes and so much more. We were talking about what it would take to maintain a toned body. To defy the seemingly inevitable pull of gravity, to avoid the wobble and the soft, sagging. We talked about the option of doing sit ups and press ups and any number of other exercise routines which, done daily or with enough regularity, would help maintain that more or less youthful firmness… And as I listened a thought occurred to me. If I wanted to stay toned and flab-free does that mean I would be willing to do the sit ups and press ups for ever? Three times a week, every week? Because if I were to start doing exercises to tone up now… the minute I stop I’d just go all flabby again… so that means I would have to keep going. But for how long? At what point would it be OK to let myself look ‘old’. When would it be legitimate to stop working so hard to look youthful and fit?

I don’t want to push myself through punishing exercise routines for years to come, week in week out, just to stay toned and trim. The older I get the happier I am with the way I look. I am growing rather fond of the soft, wobbly parts of my thighs, my somewhat lumpy bottom, my jelly-like belly… it’s sad that in our society accepting the way we look and allowing nature to take it’s course is considered ‘letting yourself go’. The message is that looking beautiful means staying young and that you can’t be beautiful if you don’t work hard at it. That wrinkles and softness and curves are synonymous with being un-sexy and unattractive.

I do want to be fit and healthy. I want to be strong an supple. That's why I swim and walk and stretch. I even run when I feel like it.

I don't want to spend the next 20 years trying to look like I did five or ten years ago. I don't want to spend the rest of my forties and my fifties and sixties working hard to maintain the body I had in my mid to late thirties.

I believe that I can be attractive and sexy, even when I’m not toned and firm. I believe that I can be beautiful without trying to hold onto my youth. I don't have to fight getting older. If that’s called letting myself go… well so be it!

If you’d like to join this wonderful group of women who meet once a month on a Wednesday from 11am to 2pm in London NW3, click
HERE to find out more. You can email me at or call me anytime on 07904 125997


  1. This reminded me of an amazing article I read on called "You don't have to be pretty" - it's all about how women see it as part of their job to be pleasing to the eyes of others, almost as if we owe it to the world, and how this is actually a lie. As long as we are happy with ourselves, that's all that should reasonably be asked of us. The article is still available here: Well worth a read, and the comments section is good too.

  2. Brought tears to my eyes this post, thank you for sharing Sophie. Wonderful.More power to us and our wobbly bits!

  3. It is a shame that we feel we aren't allowed to grow old gracefully. There's a difference between being fit and being fanatic. Between being healthy and being a slave to a regime intended to freeze the biological clock. There's no reason at all why anyone can't remain toned and fit for as long as they are able to move. I remember a woman coming to a yoga class I used to attend - she was in her late 70's and could bend into all sorts of yoga poses that I couldn't get anywhere near - she'd been practising yoga for decades. On the other hand - as you say - trying to maintain an artificially young looking body by exercise is unreasonable and unnecessarily punishing. Somewhere between the two sounds good to me - enough exercise to keep fit, not so much that it dominates my life. Really good blog, btw!

  4. I read this as I was about to go and exercise. At nearly 52 it's not easy to keep fit and toned but to be honest if I do half an hour a day (and don't think I'm able to to that every day cos I can't) makes me feel better in myself. I'm still going to exercise today but I'm off back to work next week and I won't feel so bad now when I can't keep it up so regularly!
    Unfortunately my husband has taken up running and got himself addicted and is now down to the weight he was in his twenties. He thinks I should be able to do that too... Yeah right!!!

  5. For my self, I intend to grow old disgracefully!

    Just because I am older in years, it does not mean that I have to grow up. I am often reminded of the poeam by Jenny Joseph

    I am very fortunate to be able to celebrate my 49th year by enjoying trips to Lanzarote, Florida and India, running the Great Manchester 10k and experiencing a Charity Zip wire across the Manchester Ship Canal for Beechwood Cancer Care in Stockport ... bring it on (but for the moment I am tired so I am tucked up under my duvet :))

  6. Wow! What an empowering blog! I have been torturing myself by putting up around the house pictures of myself 15 years ago, slim and toned in a bikini - because I lived in the gym! Now, at 55, and settled in a happy marriage with someone who loves me as I am, I have been making myself so unhappy trying to get that body back! thanks, Sophie, for making me see things differently and embrace my not-bad-for-my-age self!


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.