Naked ladies sat to my right and left, nodding sagely.
"Yep," said the one, drying her arm down its length, and sliding back up and under its dangling folds. "That's about when it happened to me, too: 41."
"Me, too," said another, lying down on the sauna's bench, a breast falling to either side. "It was downhill from there."
"You bloat and it stays."
After swimming class, I had posed the question of why I had been gaining weight for no particular reason, and this led to a torrent of yays and amens. Nearly every older woman there could identify, and offered her own version of the story, which, though individual, always ended in resignation and an expanded waistline.
I left there that day thinking life was over after 40, at least in terms of the body's proportions and aesthetics. But a few days later I found a book on Ayurveda, got cooking, and my weight slowly found its way back to normal.
This is not me recommending Ayurveda; I didn't follow the system religiously, but instead took the basic principles into my lifestyle to good effect.
This is me saying stop giving in and giving up. The aging process demands a certain number of concessions, for sure, but there's always higher ground for climbing. In terms of fitness, I've adapted my routine significantly--lessened, even--and yet I'm looking and functioning as well as I ever have. Probably because it's exactly what I need to do now; had I kept stressing my body more than it could take, though the workload is greater, the results wouldn't be as great.
Don't give in to the paunch. Or anything else, for that matter; you're not dead yet, so keep going. I love the Buddhist saying that everyone should help people, and that if they are unable to do that, they should make sure to do no harm. To me, this means you're always capable of something--causing good or causing harm. So make the right choice, because there's always one in front of you.