When I was younger and I would gain weight, it was always in my butt, belly and thighs. But now that I‘m 50, I have discovered that the fat is being redirected to other body parts.
I’m not sure why this happens this way. It may be one of those mysteries of the universe, like why men lose hair from their head when they get older, but start growing it from their ears. Or why women suddenly start drawing clown eyebrows on their faces. Or why men start wearing their pants up under their armpits when they hit 70.
I’m not the first person to identify this phenomenon. Other women my age who used to gain weight in normal places have found themselves suddenly sporting “cankles” (a combined term for ankles and calves), “chicken wings” (the fat between your breasts and your armpits), “turkey wattle” (fat under your chin) and “drumsticks” (fat on the inside of your knees).
Is it just me or are you sensing a poultry theme here?
In my case, it didn’t actually start with the cankles or the armpits. It started with my upper arms. One day I had your average, run of the mill upper arms, and the next it appeared that I had sprouted wings. I hadn’t even gained that much weight. Whatever I already had just seemed to redistribute to my tricep area and drop. I wasn’t sure if I was devolving into a pterodactyl, or if this was a genetic condition that afflicted all aging female Jews in preparation for our retirement to Florida.
I know there are some women who get liposuction to deal with their stubborn fat areas. The problem with lipo, though, is when you remove fat cells from one area and then you gain weight, the new fat has to go somewhere and you end up with really bizarre fat places like a fat earlobes or fat kneecaps. This is even weirder looking than simply having belly fat, so I decided to just try to offset my caloric intake with some good old-fashioned exercise.
Soon, however, I was frustrated to find that I could do push-ups and reverse push-ups and backwards push-ups until the cows came home, and I still had so much loose skin under my upper arms that I could jump out of a plane without a parachute and be able to glide to safety.
Concerned that this trend might extend to other, even less desirable body parts, I consulted a trainer at my gym.
“I need your help,” I said to one of the uber-trainers, Betty Biceps. “I’m gaining weight in weird places.” Although she was 10 years older than me, she had zero percent body fat and arms like Serena Williams. Since she appeared to be defying both the aging link and the genetic predisposition for pterodactyl arms, I thought she would be the best person to talk to.
She looked me up and down and nodded.
“Oh wise workout guru,” I said to her. “Can you tell me the secret to not gaining weight in my knees, earlobes and upper arms?”
She flexed a quad and looked me square in the eye.
“Don’t eat so much.”
Follow Tracy on Twitter @TracyinSuburbia.