As good as it gets?

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life77 Comments


This blog has hosted many a post on the old Battle of the Bulge front. I've been writing about it since I quit smoking in 2006 when the chub slowly but surely began to find its way onto my reluctant frame.

As I weighed myself last Saturday morning (remember, I only step on that thing once a week for checks and balances), and the number read "157," I thought to myself, "Maybe what I've got right now is as good as it gets."

There's a great Mumford & Sons song (oh heck, they're all great for that matter) called "Awake Your Soul" and a line jumped out at me that morning, as I sat working on my computer:

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, you invest your life

Common sense hit me right between the eyes, as much as I tried to dodge the shot: this body of mine, with it's dimples and muffin-topped midsection, is Ground Zero for my entire life experience. All the good. All the bad. All the ordinary. All the magical.

How does having a flat stomach really add or detract from an entire lifetime of experience?

Like many of you, I stuggle with figuring out how to be enough. Sometimes it seems the physical housing takes such a precedent and seems to erase some of the joy to be found in the simple act of living.

I fight against this nearly every day.

Some days, I'm inspired by a new book I'm reading on metabolism, or a health and nutrition podcast that really speaks to me. Some days, I return from a solid run, covered in sweat and catching my breath, and the size of my ass is the absolute least of my concerns.

Some days, I look in the mirror and there's a really cute 40-something lady looking back at me, and I think, "Oh, there you are."


There you are, with your glasses, and your grey hairs, and your wrinkles and the same outfit you had on yesterday. I know you. I'm so lucky to BE you.

I realize that there are also a lot of women out there for whom this isn't an issue. Somewhere along the line of their lives, they gained a sense of confidence and self-worth that had little if nothing to do with how they looked on the outside. If that is you, I both envy and admire you.

Me? I'm a work in progress, with the emphasis decidedly on progress.



Cathy ZielskeAs good as it gets?

77 Comments on “As good as it gets?”

  1. #1

    Excellent post. I too am a work in progress and have to remind myself of that…often. Thanks for sharing your struggles on this journey. It makes it easier somehow to know that others feel the same.

  2. #2

    Oh Cathy, look at how cute you are! πŸ™‚

    I think the battle you’re fighting… not the one against the numbers but the one against the up-and-down emotions… it’s a battle that many of us are engaged in. I may not be struggling with the numbers on the scale, but my self-confidence ebbs and flows in pretty much the same way, and when I start to struggle, I tell myself that no one else is going to fix my problems at work or deal with the issues my kids are facing… this is my life, and I’m pretty lucky to have the job and the kids I have. (Most days, I truly feel that way… but there are days when I’m counting the minutes to quitting time or bedtime…)

    Gotta say, I don’t remember how I came to terms with my muffin top (which ones and goes from my life)… I went throuh a few years when I looked permanently 5-mo pregnant and was asked by friends and strangers alike… but now, I’m doing a better job at buying clothes to disguise it. πŸ˜‰

  3. #3

    Cathy thanks so much for the post! Having recently hit a speed bump of life it really touched me to realize that of all the things I have to worry about right now, maybe the cellulite on my thighs is not the most important. I mean heck, these legs (for God’s sake the entire body!) has taken me through 47 years of life (today is my birthday) and all I’m going to focus on is whether or not I reach some always changing image of physical perfection? I have a great smile, twinkly eyes, and a laugh that can fill a room…maybe that’s my gift to the world and not the gift of thin thighs? I mean I want to be healthy and all and I am training for my first 1/2 marathon at Disney in October (and yeah I really don’t care about the time I have because I want a picture with Tigger!!!) but for goodness sake maybe the self-flagelation needs to take a break while I enjoy the good in my life and try to cope with the challenging. Anyway, thanks for bringing a smile to my face this morning when I really wasn’t feeling it. Your struggle is definitely my gain…thanks for sharing:)

  4. #4
    katie squires

    WOOT WOOT…Triple Arm Pump (yes arm flags are waving), and I am doing my BOOB DANCE OF JOY….this is AWESOME!
    This was my FAVORITE Part: “Common sense hit me right between the eyes, as much as I tried to dodge the shot: this body of mine, with it’s dimples and muffin-topped midsection, is Ground Zero for my entire life experience. All the good. All the bad. All the ordinary. All the magical.” That’s going in my journal πŸ™‚

  5. #5
    Kendra B

    Great post!! It really does help to know that others have the same thoughts and struggles…that I’m not the only one. Thanks for the new point of view when I look in the mirror as I get ready for work this morning.

  6. #7

    Yet again you hit the nail on the head, lady. This is exactly my struggle right now. After losing 75 pounds I can’t seem to get the scale to budge. Even though I would love to lose about 20 or (25) more, I’m starting to wonder if it’s worth all of this obsessing. What if I just continue living this new healthy lifestyle that I’ve learned, with it’s bumps along the way, of course, and just let my body be what it’s supposed to be? I’m not 100 pounds overweight anymore. I can shop in regular stores now. I even think I look cute sometimes. Why not just (gasp!) be happy?

    Thanks again for putting it all out there, Cathy! And you look damn cute!

  7. #9

    The old saw…Don’t let ‘perfect’ (whatever the hell that is!) be the enemy of the good. Make that ‘damn good enough’. Anything else is gravy… or is that a bad word? πŸ˜‰

    I was a skinny girl, a skinny woman until my 40s. Now I’m a mostly content senior citizen who weighs 50 more pounds than she did in her 40s. I see so many 50 yr old friends fighting their weight so much, fighting their decreasing hormones, and wanna say …Honey it’s not worth it. Be content to be an evolving self and cherish your body for the service it gives you. It carries your soul.

  8. #11

    This is the kind of stuff that REAL life is made of.

    Thank you, Cathy, for being genuine and authentic…

    Thank you, Maureen, for capturing the true essence of these bodies we inhabit… they truly do carry our souls…

  9. #12

    thanks, Barb. I think theres so much to all of this, aside from just a muffin. Peri-meno age hormones dont always help either. But, i have found the exercise keeps those ups and downs a lot more even.

  10. #15

    Go Deb! I know you know what Im talking about here. You need to keep reminding yourself, as do I, that youve made some really HUGE changes in your lifestyle. And you, my friend, are cute too!

  11. #17

    I love that you share your battle/journey right down to the numbers.

    I’m on the top of that hill having just faced that my amazing high-self-esteem aside, I’m tired of hating every single photo of myself that shows more than my eyes. Tired of the creeping pant sizes. Tired of feeling less than healthy.

    You are an inspiration! Thanks! πŸ™‚

  12. #20
    Ronnie Crowley

    Cathy have you read “I Thought it Was Just Me (but it isn’t)” by Brene Brown. Alie Edwards I believe is friends with her and I think this is how I found it. We have been reading it with a group of girl friends recently and it has a lot about body image and how us “girls” shouldn’t shame each other into thinking its only us who has the problem. She has a great chapter on critical awareness where she looks at who benefits from the fact we are made to feel bad about the way we look – “if we don’t believe we’re too fat, ugly and old, then they don’t sell their products. If they don’t sell their products, they don’t make their house payments.”

  13. #21
    Jennifer Henson

    You, Cathy, are a delightful blessing-and this post was just what I needed this morning. I have been packing for our family trip this summer-dreading the beach and swimsuit… and even though I run, bike, walk, etc 4-5 days a week, the snacking and slowing metabolism have added more… cushion in areas that don’t love a swimsuit… I have been feeling low about my body this year-for the first time in my life. Your post today was great! πŸ™‚ I run, I am… me. πŸ™‚ Thanks for letting that be the smile on my face and the smile lines around my eyes-and encouraged. YOU ROCK! πŸ™‚

  14. #23

    When I was 5’6″ and 130 in my late 20s / early 30s, I thought I was too “Fat” for a bikini. Pregnant in my mid-30s, I delivered at over 200lbs. When I lost 50 of that, I couldn’t see the progress. By my late 30s, when my weight was up to 167, I apparently couldn’t see the “fluff”.

    Yet here I am, at 40 – weighing in at 145, but 2 sizes smaller than I was at 150 (more fit) – and it’s not “good enough”. I’m doing well at the physical part – it’s the mental side that’s definately a work in progress.

  15. #24

    Gravity and time do a number on us all, but if we’re healthy enough to keep moving and keep smiling, and we make some better choices in how we fuel our bodies, we have reason to celebrate instead of obsess. I’m five pounds lighter than I have been, feel better and can move around more easily. But I do NOT look like a cover model. And that’s okay.

  16. #26

    Still very much a work in progress, here. I can appreciate the wonderful, special, and unique in others, but still too focused on the number on the scale, size of my clothes, and how many miles I ran last week to appreciate me (and I don’t even need to lose weight). Wishing I could see me with a clearer focus.

  17. #27
    tara pollard pakosta

    I am a work in progress too….
    Ever since I had kids and turned 30 my metabolism
    has sucked and I cant’ eat all the junk I ate prior…
    and it SUCKS! but I am learning to find balance and it’s a struggle every day….
    hugs to you as I know exactly what you are going through! IN fact we are about the same height and I was just at 170 not too long ago. I have had to fight like crazy for this loss. I have walked/ran over 93 miles this month so far.
    it’s been a battle, but one I am willing to fight to be more comfortable in my own skin!

  18. #29
    Maggie Currie

    That is so good to read. You are totally right of course. I had the same thing when I gave up smoking 6 years ago. I am me, in my body and I love me.

    Thank you for this.

  19. #30
    Kimberley K

    Cathy…everything you have said hits home today. I love reading your blog because for the full 62 years of my life I have battled the scale. Yep….even as a baby twin I was always the ‘bigger one’. I wish that you lived in California because I would hope that you lived next door to me to experience all your wonderful chit chat face to face. You make me laugh. You make me think and most of all you make me feel as though I’m not the only one who constantly fights with their inner self.

  20. #31

    Cathy, please know that you are a work in progress whom I respect and admire and who provides inspiration and richness to my life. I am most definitely a work in progress, too! As always, thanks for sharing yourself with me.

  21. #32
    Lana @ Mz-Cellaneous

    I think the next step for you is probably weight training. I haven’t seen you talk much about it. I think you should pick up the book “body for life” by bill phillips. Weight training is the only thing that will change the shape of your body. It also helps blow off the last bit of weight, and muscle burns fat. You won’t turn into a muscular goddess… just lean and fit. Oh, and you won’t do this with 3 pound baby weights.

  22. #33

    I relate. I am fighting the same battles, on the scale and off. We all find our motivations somewhere, and everyone needs to have words of encouragement with themselves. I will say this; the honesty in your words motivate and inspire me.

  23. #34
    Susan M

    Great post, great perspective. Just had a conversation this morning with my best friend about our exercises goals. How crucial is it to lose the 15 pounds of baby weight I’ve been carrying for 12 years? Isn’t it more important that my exercises habit keeps the depression and asthma at bay? That’s why I do this every day, not to be a size 6 again. Thanks for expressing my exact feelings today! Sending you encouragement and self-love πŸ™‚

  24. #35
    Rachel B.

    “and your grey hairs, and your wrinkles and the same outfit you had on yesterday.” THIS is why I love you, Cathy! Because you are so awesome and funny and yes, I too, am wearing the same outfit as yesterday, so I can totally relate. You make me laugh and cry and think and put things into perspective, occasionally. LOL! You R the best!

  25. #36

    Lana, I have started taking BodyPump at the Y, and the day after (and the day after) I am FEELING the burn. And i am definitely turning a focus to weights because of exactly what you wrote. : )

  26. #37

    You are so wise. You inspire us. Balance is hard. There is life to be lived. Priorities shift. Things ebb and flow. Keep on keeping on while at the same time live life to the full.

  27. #38

    This is such perfect timing. after hitting s complete wall emotionally last night I had to ask myself am I as happy now as I was when I was 60 pounds heavier? With struggling to loose the last 10 pounds I in all honesty had to say no!.. I am crabby, emotional and not myself and I believe it is becasue of all the focus has been put on what I have left to do and not what I have already accomplished. So I say thank you for the post and reminding us !

  28. #39

    Funny how we can reach a ripe old age (and I probably have 20 years on you) and still wrestle with the self-confidence and self-esteem issues. Sure, we’re beyond the teenage angst, supposedly older and wiser, but sometimes it doesn’t seem like it! Good post – whether it’s weight, bad hair, gravity winning or whatever, it’s so easy to let the negative feelings take over, and not appreciate how truly thankful we are for what we have. Life is never perfect, and our attitude towards it and ourselves makes all the difference!

  29. #40

    Hi, I don’t read all your posts, not that I don’t want to but life gets in the way and that is good! But today this post really hit home. I have struggled all my life with weight and self esteem issues. I have had a wonderful life but I know I have missed out on things because of these issues. Thanks for helping me try to put them aside and live!!!! And know I am not alone!

  30. #41

    once again, you’ve blessed me~

    {{{“In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
    Where you invest your love, you invest your life”

    Common sense hit me right between the eyes, as much as I tried to dodge the shot: this body of mine, with it’s dimples and muffin-topped midsection, is Ground Zero for my entire life experience. All the good. All the bad. All the ordinary. All the magical.}}}

    I want you to know, this is getting printed out and SMASHED today! πŸ™‚ (once I finish this little piece of Dove dark chocolate…’s a hormone issue day!) LOL Keep it real girl! πŸ˜‰

  31. #42
    Sherri Stone

    I don’t comment often but today I read your post and remembered that YOU are one of the reasons I’ve lost 22 pounds since March. You had posted a recap of your MMEL pages and that inspired me earlier this year. I was impressed that you put your weight and measurements on this blog for everyone to see and I started being accountable by documenting my own journey. I made small changes in my diet and started walking. Just want to thank you for the inspiration! You ROCK!

  32. #43

    What a great post Cathy! What you said is soooo true. I think you should print this out and put it on the wall. Heck, I think I will do that and put in on MY wall. I need to be reminded of this fact. Thanks for the slap upside the head to appreciate this amazing body of mine for what it can do and has done (grow and birth two babies). It’s all about attitude.

  33. #44

    Thanks for putting into words what so many of us feel. I am always inspired by your efforts to be healthy and eat right, but to also just enjoy life and accept who you are. I don’t speak up much to comment, but I sure do appreciate your words and feel inspired! Thanks so much!

  34. #48

    Hi Cathy, love this post and sounds just like me. I agree with all the past comments and Kate before mine said it perfectly. Thanks for all you do and to make me do. Keep up the good work.

  35. #49
    Pilbara Pink

    “When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.”
    β€” Lao Tzu

    This was this morning’s quote from the Happiness Project. And then I read your post. All this after a rough nights sleep as I ate off plan yesterday and was so mad with myself I tossed and turned all night. I need to be content to be simply myself and not compare or compete .. surely that is what makes us think we are not good/thin/fit/muscular enough? What if we just did what we know is good for us (as in personally for each of us) and accepted with love the results? Wow, that sounds radical to me!!!! Love your work Cathy, love the way you corral the thoughts floating in my mind ……

  36. #50

    We put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve the perfect body without every assessing who it is that defines perfect!

    Have you ever read ‘You can heal your life’ by Louise L. Hay? In it she says that almost every proble we have in life in some way relates to the feeling we have of not ever being enough. It’s a bit esoteric but worth a read.

  37. #51

    It’s important to remember that when you are comparing yourself to someone else you are comparing your inside to their outside.

  38. #52
    Sharon F. in CA

    Wow – you are in my head…yes, I am feeling the same way, but then I remember what Oprah said in her last shows….”You are enough, right here and now this moment. You are enough!” It inspired me. LIve right now and enjoy each day and moment. Be brave in the attempt to take care of this body but enjoy it too. One step at a time.

  39. #53

    Great post as always Cathy. I am trying every day to make strong choices, but also accepting that I am not willing to miss out on LIFE during the process. One of my friends pointed out a year ago that I was “doing the best I can”. My best has changed and it will always change…. but I try hard when I get sad about how I am doing with my weight to realize I am doing the best I can. And, I sure do have a life I love. Part of that life is eating well, moving a lot, and teaching my children how to make healthy choices… and part of that is simply hugging them and being grateful we are all HERE exactly as we are.

    Keep running. Keep posting because you inspire the heck out of me. Thank you for being so real.


  40. #54
    Pilbara Pink

    That is so true! And as we are unique then comparisons add nothing as there is no one like us – our best is our best πŸ™‚

  41. #56

    Cathy–you are just amazing in every way. This post made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside–a feeling i usually only get after ingesting some cheese and onion enchiladas! Thanks for all the yumminess without the calories!

  42. #61

    I would KILL to be back to 157! I know, that’s like telling the straight-haired girl that she’s SO lucky (which I’ve also done before), but I guess what I’m really saying is that you’re cool no matter the number on the scale! I think you ROCK!

  43. #62
    Lori P

    What a wonderful post Cathy!!! I am a work in progress too!! I have always struggled with body image and self confidence!! I just recently fell off my eating plan and gained 6 lbs. My poor body is so sore right now from working out yesterday…but I am back on track today. I love your inspiration!! I have to remember I am loved for me not the number on the scale!!

  44. #63

    I can relate to your post in many ways. I never fully realized I was overweight until a girl in college felt the need to point it out to me. Until that point I had been happy and loving my very plus sized body. Yet, at 42, after having found my wonderful husband, having had a beautiful child, my weight has seemed to still be there. I wear a size 24. I am happy no matter what. I exercise, I eat right, but my body seems to like it where I am. I am loved, I am successful, and by golly I am happy! I do believe that this is as good as it gets…and I LOVE IT! Thanks Cathy for the reminder.

  45. #66

    Every morning when I read your blog you inspire me, make me laugh, and get me thinking – usually all three. And I live on the other side of the world. You must admit, that’s pretty cool.

  46. #68

    I love exercising and eat healthy almost all the time and my weight is normal-low. So I shouldn’t have any issues, right? Nope, I struggle all the time, not with my weight but with “figuring out how to be enough.” For me, it was a lonely marriage and painful divorce – it’s hard to love yourself when you’ve been rejected. I am grateful that I can get joy from running, but I’m pretty sure that I look at happy couples with the same wistfulness that an overweight woman has when looking at a thin, in-shape woman. We all have to be kind to ourselves and others – kind to our bodies and our souls – we are all works in progress.

  47. #69
    Pilbara Pink

    I am sorry to hear of your hard time Karen. You make a very good point though – so many overweight people look wistfully at the thin person and think if I just looked like that everything would be perfect. You know what – everything looks just the same except for your body UNLESS you address all those issues that are bugging you. And it is just possible if you start working on those issues now, rather than waiting until you are thin, getting thinner just might be a bit more likely. Take care of yourself Karen, you are the best Karen there is so be kind to her πŸ™‚

  48. #71
    Sharon Lovoy

    Dear Cathy–this has to be one of my all time favorite posts because I have been thinking about this issue for a long time. I just read a book called “Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success” by Joseph Grenny et al. One of the things it talks about is being both the scientist and the subject. In other words, everything does not work for everybody (or in this case, “every body”) and that not one of us falls in the average category. So the deal is,study figure out where are the crucial moments, where the temptation comes up and we give in. Also another point was to figure out who are accomplices and who are your friends. Friends push you to do the right thing, where accomplices fall into that, “and lead us into temptation” category. For example, I had to declutter my life of one “friend” who just couldn’t avoid talking poorly about others. I digress.

    I think what I liked about this book was that it was filled with lots of hope. One of the authors was overweight and he had to apply what was written in the book to avoid being a hypocrite. BTW, the book is not just about weight–it is about all kinds of bad habits.

    Hey, have a happy 4th!

  49. #74
    Karin Van den Berg

    This posts and it’s comments have just convinced me to join your “Move more, eat well” class next year. It’s the inspiration I really need and want for the year to come. I’ll leave the hairy details for the message board πŸ™‚

    Oh and I love the pic you added to this too!

  50. #76
    Lillian Baker

    I am a 40-year old single lady. I have no boyfriend since the very first day of my teenage life. I am now 40 and I look like one. I mean, with all the lines on my faces and old skin.

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