Fifty Shades of Greek Goddess.

A marble lady nonchalantly strutting her stuff (and showing her butt) for the public in Nîmes, France.

A marble lady nonchalantly strutting her stuff (and showing her butt) for the public in Nîmes, France.

It was a normal evening in the Mars family household on Mount Olympus. The twins were fighting on the floor as Rhea Silvia reached for the bottle of grappa and topped up her glass.

“For the love of Venus, put that down, boys. What a pair of animals; anyone would think you’d been brought up by wolves… No, Rommy darling, it’s not a cheese slicer. It’s called a lyre, and it’s a present from Aunty Aphrodite. Put it down, please – she’ll be harping on about it for years if you break it”.

“Lyre, lyre, pants on fire!” The twins dissolved into hysterical laughter. Rhea rolled her eyeballs and downed her glass in three large gulps. Wiping her mouth on her forearm, she thought back to the romantic pre-partum era. It had seemed a good idea at the time to seduce the God of War, but she had suddenly woken up to the hard reality of life in a villa with six snotty toddlers and an award-winning muffin top, only to discover that Mars had a worrying penchant for going into battle wearing her rara skirts.

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a deep, virile voice booming “Hi, honey, I’m home!” and the sound of the front door slamming shut. Rhea Silvia languidly draped her naked body across the sofa and set her features in what she hoped to be a sultry pout. “Gerroff! Daddy’s home!” she hissed through clenched teeth as she tried to shake off the two whining, naked infants fastened to her ankles.

Mars stomped across the carpet, his armour glistening in the light of the lava lamp, and threw his sword on the sofa. “By Jupiter, what a day!” His eyes roved over her feminine curves, surveying the galb of her calves, her plump thighs and dimpled rear before hungrily devouring the sight of the flab riding sidecar on her hips and finally coming to rest on her generous belly roll. The corners of his mouth twitched into a smirk. “Didn’t have time to get dressed this morning, then?” he enquired, eyebrows arched in mock surprise. Rhea ran a hand slowly through her hair and peered demurely out from behind her fringe. “Is that a Mars Bar in your pocket, or are you pleased to see me?” she murmured as he approached.

You may have guessed from the above text that MM has been wandering around a museum looking at the antique equivalent of eye candy again. I am a sucker for museums and art galleries, and am particularly fond of mummies, paintings and sculpted marble bottoms. Whilst bespectacled art boffins strike poses with notebooks and reverentially peruse the paintings for unique perspectives, technical brush strokes and ingenuous lighting techniques, MM is quietly writing alternative titles and scenarios in her head for every work of art she sees. The tale above is one such example – incidentally, Rhea Silvia’s real story turned out to be much sadder than mine. Here is the painting that inspired MM’s ‘Fifty Shades of Greek Goddess », actually called « Le Retour de Mars » by Nicolas-René Jollain, (1732-1804), and found at the Musée des Beaux Arts in Nîmes.

A very bad photo of "Le retour de Mars" by Nicolas-René Jollain.

A very bad photo of “Le retour de Mars” by Nicolas-René Jollain.

When I see paintings of women, I am struck by the candid and honest portrayal of the female physique, and by the models’ evident pride to be the way mother nature intended them to be, rather than the cocktail-stick morphology many women try to attain today through draconian diets and exercise plans. These paintings graced the walls of men and women who spent hours admiring what they perceived as opulent beauty. What would they have made of the photo-shopped, latex knicker-toting toothpicks in the Pirelli calendar? Or the miserable, emaciated models that mince down the designer catwalk as makeshift human coathangers for clothing, applauded by rows of high-society fashionistas who can spend a fortune attempting to look like they’ve never eaten a decent meal in their lives? The women staring out of those paintings are calm and proud of their curves, yet many women today look in the mirror and heave a sigh of frustration when they see the same thing. Curves used to be a sign of wealth, health and abundance of food, yet today, more means less, and many of our female role models are no more than skin and bones as they throw money into cellulite treatment, liposuction and miracle diets.

I made this realisation before Christmas, when my muffin top suddenly mutated and morphed into something similar to Mrs Mars’ belly. In what appears to be an overnight putsch, Muffin Top was superceded by a new, terrible enemy: Sinister Soufflé, the dark and dangerous lardlord of the middle-aged darknesses, who had risen overnight and was waiting for me the next morning, unapologetically drooping over the top of my pyjamas like a rabid blancmange.

Yup, this would be it. Muffin top has mutated into Sinister Soufflé.  Photo source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMaker_Faire_San_Mateo_2008_0022.JPG

Yup, this would be it. Muffin top has mutated into Sinister Soufflé.
Photo credit: Dvortygirl. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AMaker_Faire_San_Mateo_2008_0022.JPG

Sinister Soufflé’s evil counterpart, Tefla the scales, had been silenced many months earlier by a dead battery. Her last attempts to charm me into replacing it were touching – every time I stepped onto her glass surface, she flashed up a chirpy « Lo », which I immediately interpreted as meaning that that my weight was nothing worry about. Since then she had been gathering dust below the laundry basket.

Tefla was kitted out with a new battery, and as I looked at the double zero awaiting me, the pit of my stomach reacted just like it does at the sight of the online banking screen after Christmas. You know you have to do it, but you also know you’re going to feel awful.

I will not go into the facts and figures; suffice to say that Tefla and a tape measure confirmed that I had far too much flab. After having exhausted all the possible excuses, ranging from food allergies to being possessed by evil spirits intent on avenging an unknown enemy I had drunk under the table in a previous life, I was left with the conclusion that I had noone and nothing to blame but myself.

That was when I stopped and wondered what was going on beneath the roll of belly fat. Mrs Mars may have been curvaceous and opulent, but she was also happily oblivious to the mecanics going on below her skin, and probably thought that Gluteus Maximus was no more than a legionary with a huge appetite. Pinching Sinister Soufflé, I imagined Larry the liver, who gritted his teeth and processed my lorryload of peanuts and generous serving of wine every evening without fail, and Marcel the Muscle, who was softening up by the minute from lack of exercise. Imagining my blood swooshing through veins that were perhaps slowly clogging up with cholesterol, I realised that what was important wasn’t getting rid of the muffin top, but simply being healthy. This provided a whole new slant on the body fat issue: Muffin Top and the sidekicks riding sidecar on my hips were a symptom, not the condition. That meant forgetting the word “diet”, which I negatively associate with deprivation and frustration, and focussing on getting healthy. If it (-and I-) worked out, I’d feel good (cue James Brown) and a trimmer figure would hopefully be a pleasant by-product.

If I wanted to stop the trend, I had to stop filling my face with rosé and peanuts every evening, and take more exercise – until ten weeks ago, the only crunch I approved of was wrapped in paper and could be polished off in five minutes flat. So I struck alcohol and the associated nibbles off my daily menu for a month, and added a daily 5K walk in the countryside with a delighted Smelly Dog and grumpy Mrs Playmo. Dry January became dry February, then dry March. My walks in the country are slowly becoming more jog than walk. That pair of jeans I had kept at the back of the cupboard “just in case” is no longer too small, and Tefla has just confirmed an eleven pound loss. Most importantly, I feel good (na-na-na-na-na-na-nah). Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find a clean toga and a lyre before PF rolls in from work.

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46 thoughts on “Fifty Shades of Greek Goddess.

  1. Wow! What an awesome thing you’re doing for yourself! And you’ve kept it so quiet…..no wonder Mrs. Playmo disappeared……you didn’t trust her with your secret! But I think it must be quite obvious already to those in your immediate area…….you’ve made some huge strides! Most impressive!

  2. You are well and truly on the healthy track. Bravo, MM! And yet while admiring (read: envying) your willpower to remain dry in January (never mind all the way to March!), and ability to replace old habits with healthy ones, I am stuck back in that museum. Wondering why the female form morphed into the pretzel stick and how to accept those rolls of muffin top, however trimmed down. Nice post!

    • One day at a time seems to be the way to go – just planning on making it through one day without giving in to the rosé and getting out for a bit of fresh air, repeat every day and suddenly you’re up to a month and wondering why you thought it would be so hard.I’m keeping an eye on Miss Muffin – she seems to be tamed, but not conquered.

  3. Mahusive congrats! Really well done! On the weightloss of course but also on making a decidedly grumpy me giggle like the batty old woman I am becoming throughout the read of this masterly post 🙂

  4. Striving to be healthy is so much more effective (and good for us emotionally!) than striving to look a certain way. (And often what people do to loose weight isn’t healthy at all…) Congrats! And I love your fantasy of Mrs. Mars – you always make me chuckle. 🙂

    • I had great fun thinking out Mrs Mars. PF thought I was being an art boffin. It will be our little secret. I agree with what you say about the emotional advantage of looking after yourself – it’s given me a real confidence boost.

  5. Snap !

    i’ve had some health issues since latter part of last year which has meant repeated visits to GP/hospital and numerous tests which – unrelated to my main complaint – have revealed that my BMI is too high (aka., I’ve got a big fat ‘beer belly’), my cholesterol is too high, and so too is my blood sugar

    somewhat reluctantly, I have agreed to go on a diet (no chocolate, dorritos, or wine Mondays – Friday Thursday to reduce all those things – and it’s been hell, bloody hell, so I can well sympathise with you

    being fit and healthy is such a pain in the arse !

    • I’m sorry you’ve been sitting around in doctors’ waiting rooms, Duncan – I hope that they have got their haloed heads around whatever is ailing you and are getting it sorted. That BMI thing is a bane to peoples’ existence, but hey, maybe you’ll discover something you like as much as Dorritos (you’ve got me pining now, I love them too). Try eating porridge for breakfast -porridge oats are good for getting cholesterol levels down and so is exercise (just walking the dogs for an hour every day can make a difference). It’ll get easier, I promise. Hang on in there, Duncan!

  6. Well done you! 🙂

    I love the Mars fantasy story, and I know that my DB would much prefer me to look voluptuous than pretzelous. Eating and exercising healthily is surely the best way to achieving your ideal body weight.

    • Thanks, sweetie 🙂 I’m still looking voluptuous, but minus the extra bells and whistles from peanuts and rosé. Ideal body weight is indeed the aim – rather than fitting into a size ‘whatever’. I listen to Caro Emerald when I run to remind myself what feminine really is – she is motivating but also curvy, voluptuous, gifted and incredibly feminine.

  7. Brilliant post, MM, and very well done for sticking to your get-healthy guns like this. I will admit to having let my Lenten discipline slip for a couple of days last week when we had visitors and found to my surprise that I really did not enjoy more than one small glass of wine at a time. I’m on the wagon again and holding on tight. 🙂
    PS I was quite disappointed that the Mars family soap episode stopped short like that. 😉

    • Hi, Miss P! Glad to “see” you again – life has been wild for MM recently and I haven’t had time to get into the blogosphere at all. Doesn’t the church give a day off for the St Patrick’s celebrations? Just pretend you were an Irish catholic for those two days 😉 Jokes apart, isn’t it interesting how your brain switches off the “want” button after a few weeks? Fascinating stuff.
      I had to stop the Mars family soap there – the three sets of twins were in the room, and Mr Mars had left his sword on the sofa. I think it would have turned into 50 Shades of Gore from there on 🙂

  8. Simply hilarious way to tell a story! Loved every word of it! You’ve tacked the battle of the muffin top with serious dedication. Giving up the wine? You mean business. 🙂 Such a clever story…I’m still laughing!

    • Hello, Deborah! How are you? Are you still keeping your phone in your pocket when you walk outside? 😀
      Muffin Top is slowly losing the battle, and I haven’t given up on anything I don’t miss, so it’s all hunky dory. Apart from a massive cold that Little My kindly passed on to me, and has given me a headache equivalent to a grade A, diamond-encrusted hangover.

    • I’m here, promise (MM guiltily ignores fact that she’s turned her back on the mountain of editing work lurking in her inbox to check on the blog). Not planning on disappearing completely, don’t worry 🙂

  9. Oh I think you should write en entire Mythology book, that was pure genius!!! Wonderful!!!
    And congrats on being brave enough to tackle the muffin top. I am still tucking mine down into my jeans, which are now decidedly hard to breathe in, or sometimes – horror! – wearing jogging bottoms at home which simply allow me to enjoy my natural Barba Mamma shape (squashy, ever-changing shape).
    I really must give up the peanuts…

    • Art is a great way to learn about mythology – they all seemed to enjoy depicting the stories on canvas. I think that Narcissus will be my next victim. 😀
      Miss Muffin continues to shrink, even without running for a week – Little My generously gave me her cold, so i won’t be able to run again until my lungs give up on trying to escape and run across the kitchen table…

  10. Aahhhh MM, it was sooooo worth the weight, oops wait! I too love a museum or art gallery. The Old Masters float my boat and whilst I enjoy some of the modern stuff other pieces leave me wondering ‘but is it art?’

    It is nice to think my ‘curves’ could have earned me a tidy little living as a Rubenesque model in days of old. So much more genteel than being a builder’s labourer. Sadly my days of only being able to ‘pinch an inch’ around the midriff have become ‘yank a yard’!

    I have a piece about art buried somewhere deep in the archives. You have inspired me to dust it off and tweak it.

    Well done you on being so disciplined. Xx

    • Yeeeeah! How are you? We should do an art gallery outing together and see how long we last before we get thrown out for bad behaviour. Yank a yard, love it 🙂 Being a builder’s labourer is much better than lying around on sofas being painted. Maybe we could give it a go – apparently you can pose for art students.
      Looking forward to reading your art piece – post the link in a reply to this comment!

  11. I hope PF appreciated your efforts when he came home from work. 😉
    I loved reading the background story to the painting – it all makes sense once you read it. I have often wondered what these painting were all about, and now I know! 😀

    • When PF comes home from work, he collapses on the sofa with a beer. Never mind the toga, I’d have to sprawl across the coffee table with sushi laid out across my belly (remember that film?) to be noticed…
      Glad to have deepened your knowledge of Greek mythology. It’s easier than you thought, huh? 😀

  12. HOW could I have missed this? Went looking for you tonight as no MM goodness had popped up in my feed lately, and found this gem! Loved every single fat and skinny word of it 🙂
    My only excuse for not commenting sooner is that we were on vacation for two weeks at the end of March and I think I must have ”sweep” deleted a bunch of wordpress notifications.
    Sad to report that even though we did a six-km walk on 8 mornings and skied for 2 hours on 11 of the 14 days, I still managed to pack on 5 of the 7 lbs lost since Christmas. Copious amounts of Swiss wine and pork will do that to a girl; can’t kid myself.
    But we’re back on the straight path, we are, and joining you on the quest to happiness 🙂
    xox

    • Oof. She lives and breathes. I was wondering where you’d got to, too. Glad to know that you were skiing, registering all those beautiful views in your memory for replays when you got back home, and enjoying the profusion of pork and alcohol in all its forms. Who could blame you, girl? I’m drowning in work, and have no time for blogging. I have written so many posts in my head. Sob. Big hugs to you xoxo

  13. Sinister Souffle, too funny!!! Your back story to the painting is fabulously entertaining, and a perfect segue into body health. Smelly Dog is probably getting healthier and happier too with all those walks, and the six toddlers will appreciate you all the more now that you have the energy to— wait, no. I’m getting the stories mixed up.

    • You’re joking, but I was all systems go to do a Rhea Silvia on PF and have four children… we got Smelly Dog instead. At least she was clean and independent within three months, and didn’t ask us to carry her trike when we went on walks… 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the story!

  14. I am extremely impressed that a dry January morphed into a dry February and possibly even beyond that. Are you still going? Very, very commendable.

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