Handling the Love... Handles

There's a firestorm whipping around the blogosphere over the good ol' weight issue. You can read about it here, here and also here. Those are some angry bees.

I understand why. Let me jump on the bandwagon with my agitated respectful opinion.

There is a big difference between natural weight gain and gaining a massive amount of weight and becoming asexual.

When you first meet your husband, you are, say, in your 20's. You can eat entire pizzas and store them in your hollow leg, you can sleep on your side and yet not have a crease across your face until 2:00 the next day, you can exercise constantly because you have the time and the motivation and you see immediate results. Gravity is working in your favor - you have all options at your disposal. Your life is yours!

Then, someone comes along wine-ing and dining and you say "Yesss". And then bam! five years later you are wiping butts, considering the girls at The View your true friends, and eating cookies in the pantry and cold nuggets out of the sink.

It is the natural progession. It's not lack of self-worth or of interest in your mate. It's physics.

Along with these major lifestyle changes come some major physical changes. Let me outline them:

1) Once you are happy and in love you just aren't going out that much...and eating in alot.

2) Once you get pregnant, forget about it. Your body has a mind of its own...and its mind is to stretch, stretch, stretch.

3) Your body changes permanently after pregnancy. I did not even have hips before. And back fat? Wha...?

4) Taking care of a child is draining. Sometimes the only thing you do for yourself is eat. So, you're going to make it count.

When we get married we go from women with our own lives to Mothers. To Wives. To Daughters-in-law. To Social Coordinators. Often to Spiritual Heads. The weight of the family is on our shoulders. Everything from whether the house, the car, our children's hair is clean to whether our husband looks presentable to whether our weekends are packed with dinner dates to whether our kids are in soccer/dance/softball to whether our family eats healthy and exercises to how many friends our husband has, girlfriends we have and playmates our kids have depends upon our efforts. The entire social, mental, emotional, and physical framework of the family is reliant on our action.

So, what do we do to reward ourselves? How do we ‘take care”? For most of us that spin class isn’t going to cut it. I don't know about you, but exercise is yet another chore I must get done. It is not a reward. A venti mocha and muffin is a reward. A rum and coke is a reward. Chips and onion dip. Ben and Jerry’s. Those are comforting. Maybe not for you. But, I'm sure you have your comfort foods too.

Sometimes there are just not enough good reasons to prevent me from pulling into that McDonalds…and then going home and preparing a healthy dinner for my family. Does it mean I don’t love myself? I don’t think so. Does it mean I don’t love my husband? Uh, no. It means I want fried potatoes. That’s about it.

But, there's two sides to this coin my friends.We also have a responsibility to our families to stay healthy. Notice I didn't say "We have a responsibility to our husbands to stay hot". It's not about "false advertising" which just pisses me off. I know I don't look like I did when I got married, but neither does my husband. Neither of us are happy with the way we look now. He's doing something about it. I'm not. But, nowhere in our vows did it say that we had to be ‘consistently attractive’ til death do us part.

I want him to be attracted to me. I want to be attracted to myself! But, the best I can manage right now is to maintain my weight, even though I know I need to go to the gym and eat healthier and cut back on the alcohol. I don’t want to. And I'm not going to just to please my husband. I feel I am good enough now. When I decide to get rockin hot again, then I will. If I never feel motivated to then I guess those days are behind me. Simple as that.

I believe the unspoken deal is that Chris and I stay attracted to each other, not attractive. The reason I stay a reasonable weight is because I am not comfortable being any larger. My sexuality and attractiveness are too important TO ME. It is incidental that they are important to Chris too.

We’re constantly going to be changing in our lifetime together and we need to both feel that our mutual attraction is based on much more than our physical bodies. But, that doesn’t let us off the hook from at least making an effort to stay reasonably physically healthy.

But, let me tell you something. You can put forth the same effort at 33 that you did at 23 and you’re going to get completely different results.

The bottom line is this: If you hate yourself and your choices and are eating your pain, then that will shine through in your entire family's life. If you're overweight, but it truly doesn't bother you and you and your husband have open honest discussions about it and it truly doesn't bother him and you're healthy, then good. for. you.

This is a hot button for one reason: Mommies do not like you coming into their comfort zone (read: faceless blogging where looks are irrelevant and content rules) and start poking at their soft spot...literally. We all fight this demon, some more than others. I think if you're passionate about this subject, even if you passionately disagree with me, it’s because it’s touching a chord.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I've mostly stayed out of this debate, largely because I was out-of-blog when it started, and it seems to have gotten too complicated already. I think you've hit the nail on the head, though (and you don't have 40 comments for me to read through, and I'm lazy like that). For me, it's something of a moot point. I was fat when I got married. I've been fat since I quit smoking when I was 26, and I don't really worry about my husband failing to love me anymore because of it. He only knew the skinny me for a year, and he's known the fat me for over a decade. It's not that I don't struggle to eat better, and exercise more. I'm just not letting that struggle run my life, nor am I letting my weight define me as a person, either to myself or to him. And if anyone ever suggested that I had performed 'false advertising' in gaining weight after I met my husband, I would sit on them until they begged for mercy.

Posted by: landismom | 03/24/2006 at 01:08 PM

I'm not in the debate, but it's an important issue. i agree with your take on it. It's not just married life, I've gained weight since I started dating the chef. Why? Probably, because I'm happy. Oh, and we both like to cook.

Posted by: Trouble in Shangri La | 03/24/2006 at 01:41 PM

I think you've said it very eruditely for a lot of us. I'm not in anywhere near the (good) shape I was when I met my husband, but I feel lucky that he hasn't let it interfere with his constant desire to grope me. LOLReally, what should it matter to anyone but the two of us?

Posted by: Teri M. | 03/24/2006 at 02:02 PM

So when the girl at the Carls Jr. Drive thru window says to you this morning, "Oh your baby's not crying today", you might have a weight problem? Your post made me cry and then my boss walked by. I'm so fat right now that I can't breathe, walk upstairs holding my son without my heart rate jumping and so I'm glad that I'm unaware of this blog debate, because if everyone is spending so much time worrying over 20 lbs, that makes me want to vomit. I'm not mad at the person unhappy with a few vanity pounds, because it is just makes me sad to be in my boat...and it's sinking. You didn't touch a nerve at all... ;o) Love ya!

Posted by: Freakren | 03/24/2006 at 02:20 PM

Isn't there someone else we can blame for this, like Myspace or Fox News?

Posted by: blog Portland | 03/24/2006 at 02:43 PM

Excellent entry, Lena. You put it so well. Thank you.

Posted by: Caryn | 03/24/2006 at 03:03 PM

Well said - bravo!!

Posted by: Katherine | 03/24/2006 at 04:24 PM

Lena, you just got blopinionated, and I like it! Did that sound like a come on? It's more like, "My name is Lena, and I'm NASTY!" Great post Lena.Both my husband and I have gained weight since marriage. A lot has happened besides marriage though... that contributes to the weight gain, I mean.I'm with you on the attractiveness to yourself bit 100%. I think at least 50% (maybe even a lot more than that) of my sexual appetite is based on my own body image. As I've said before, it is really not about weight for me, it is about fitness level.What ever this false advertising bullshit is about... FEK man, that is messed up. PEOPLE CHANGE!!! C'est la vie. That is what makes us human. I mean, how does that apply to people who get cancer... ???

Posted by: Jessica | 03/24/2006 at 04:55 PM

Yeah. I may just have to post about this one too. I don't know though...But. I thought that what you said was right on.

Posted by: Kelly | 03/24/2006 at 05:00 PM

This is a hot button for me as well. Weight has always been on mind but probably more for control issues than the weight itself. My husband loves me no matter how much I weigh and I love him even more for that but, I feel the need to look my best for me. Of course, if you let it become an obsession you miss out on a lot of life. It took me 15 months to lose my baby weight but I eventually did do it. But it took time! There were no easy short cuts.'re right when you say it's so individual.

Posted by: Stefanie | 03/24/2006 at 06:27 PM


Posted by: Faith | 03/24/2006 at 06:39 PM

I've seen several people blogging about their diets. I wish them luck, but count me out. I refuse to diet anymore. I've had four kids....I'm immune to diets.I just try to love myself the way I am.

Posted by: denise aka mentalexcrements | 03/24/2006 at 08:46 PM

You articulated that extremely well. I always thought that weight gain after marriage was due to happiness in a comfort zone. It's not just mom's who put on pounds.

Posted by: something blue | 03/25/2006 at 01:07 AM

Spoken so well. I am forever telling my stepgirls that if they want to stay the way they are to get ready now when you have the energy to make exercise and eating right a habit. Because when you hit mid 30's your body does a change that does not just bounce back. But they don't listen and expect to be models forever. Hubby tells me he loves me as I am. We try to watch what we eat, I have high-blood pressure and high cholestoral and two parents who had open heart surgery. So I have to for him and for me. I like what you wrote. It speaks so true for all relationships.

Posted by: Reverberate58 | 03/25/2006 at 06:14 AM

Part of it is happiness, but part of it is just laziness or lack of motivation. I know this is true of me. I didn't consciously think 'Oooh, I'm out of the game now. NOW I can pile it on!'. But, I DID spent many more nights than normal sitting on the couch with my husband watching t.v. I also started cooking for the first time. THEN 5 - 10 years later the metabolism slows down and like Reverberate said, you already have these bad habits in place.In the end, I haev to admit that at my thinnest I was my unhappiest and now at this weight I'm gleeful with life.I think I have another post in me on this subject....

Posted by: Lena | 03/25/2006 at 10:15 AM

Amen sistah!

Posted by: Bridgermama | 03/25/2006 at 11:05 AM

Well put, Lena.I don't know what this firestorm around the blogosphere is all about, 'cuz I was too lazy to click on the links you provided, but ... I accept people as they are; I don't judge anyone based on weight; true beauty comes from within. I agree with Jessica on the "... my sexual appetite is based on my own body image ..." I am the one that decides my comfortable weight level. It's all about how "I" feel (physically & mentally) about my body; not what others dictate. Which, I believe you touched on as well. Your comment about owing it to our family to stay healthy, was right on the mark too. Overeating causes several health problems, not unlike any other addiction. It's not easy breaking the cycle of bad eating habits, though. I know, I'm working on helping my two oldest children with this battle.Now, it's lovely outside today ... I think I'll go for a walk. ;)

Posted by: ~ Stacy ~ | 03/25/2006 at 11:08 AM

I have also found that after baby ( at 28) and after my 30's came on strong ( 36 in April) - my body just - Changed.I may not weigh Much more than we we got married, but my body is different - just as Terrance's body is different at 44 than it was at 29, when we met.But it think it is the concept of "advertising" that has no place when talking about a marriage. I didn't - nor did my women friends - trick men into marrying us. We are who we have always been. If a marriage isn't begotten on a basis of mutual interest, attraction and desire of the inner spirit of the partner - then why marry? My weight has creeped as high as 200 pounds at one point in one of my depression's. I have lost about 40 pounds of that in subsequent years, but being comfortable in my skin and in my role as mother, woman, wife is worth more to me that looking or acting like I'm 22 again.Ergo, My recent "Ode to my Arm Fat" - Not condeming it - just saying "Hey, how ya doin there, arm fat"

Posted by: Dawn | 03/25/2006 at 12:44 PM

Yeah, the "false advertsing" bugged me about this debate, too. When you love somebody, it's about a whole lot more than physical attraction. And if she's ONLY talking about physical attraction--for me, at least, I find it a lot sexier to watch my husband me a dad than to watch him put on a tuxedo or something. Also, I think it's kind of silly to claim that you are just saying the spouses should check in with each other before they make a major change to their appearance, and then use weight as an example. It's not as if I'm going to say--hey, honey, I want to put on 50 pounds, what do you think?The fact is, some people are more visual than others. If my husband got upset that I cut my hair without asking him, we wouldn't work together. WE wouldn't have gotten married in the first place, because our values would have been different. (Which is not to say better, just different).Anyway, I surfed over from Moonshine, and am enjoying your blog!

Posted by: Piece of Work | 03/25/2006 at 04:41 PM

well said. I'm not trying to lose weight for anyone but me. Aside from the fact that I want to be able to buy off the rack in regular stores (not plus size ones), I want to stay healthy and have enough stamina for my kids. My husband is big guy so weight is not such a big deal for him. He's the reason I am fat in the first place (I have to blame someone, might as well be him). I was a size 6 when I met him, I'm a size 12 after being married to him for 8 years and bearing his three kids. It's all because of him.

Posted by: Chic Mommy | 03/25/2006 at 06:48 PM

I'm not reading the other comments, except landismomma... LOL... she's a rad lady and well her comment is staring at me. LOL. Can I just scream AMEN until I'm red in the face?I believe you have to come to the point where you like yourself for you but if we're honest, a part of us really liking ourselves is taking care of ourselves. I worked my ass off to get back in shape after my son. I love LOVE when people are shocked I have a kid. I work my ass off now, six months preggo, rockin' the workout machiene to stay healthy. It's just plain common sense these days. We know now about cancer and heart disease--it is the number one killer of women. Women who are usually over weight. And you're right, I like looking good for my husband. I like when he's attracted to me and there isn't a dang thing wrong with me liking that. Hubby takes care of himself too. Does he get on me when I gain afew? Never. Does he love my body for what it is right now? You bet, becasue like you said we have more than physical attraction. But part of marriage is chemistry, being sexual with one another. And if honest, I am more sexual when I feel sexy. Well said. Well thought out.Cheers girl,Kdubs

Posted by: Kdubs | 03/26/2006 at 02:39 PM

Love this post Lena. I hadn't even heard of these but I will check them out once I am done commenting here.And I have to of the main reasons why I feel bad about carrying 18 extra pounds is because of the fear of what others think. I had three babies in 2002, 2003, 2004. You can imagine how awful my belly area looks. When your actual stomach measures larger than your waist...well, it's not fun. And I do, for the most part, eat good..but I often let myself eat whatever too. While I want to be here for everyone, I just don't have the willpower I guess. I'm not a sweets addict, but I do like my salty, greasy stuff. Anyway, when I had the older three, I was 25, 26 and 28. Yeah, that weight pretty much melted off of me within that six weeks. I turned 30 in 2000. By the beginning of 2001, I weighed less than I had before getting pregnant. By the end of 2001, I had packed on a good 25 pounds. I could feel everyone stare at me. When I found out I was pregnant with #4, it was, seriously, a HUGE relief, because I didn't have to diet/workout or anything. I had an excuse for my weight. I'm pretty sure my husband still loves me, and he never makes me feel fat. He will even pacify me if he has to. ;) I am working out a couple of times a week, but that is just to help with my stomach and to not get bigger. Like I said today in my post, I pretty much ate all weekend. Bottomless pit. It's no fun to workout when I have to stop every 5 minutes to wait on a child. Or to have to watch where they are so I don't step on them or kick them. Or to sit around in sweaty clothes until I find another break to take a shower. Which is why I only workout 2 out of 5 weekdays. ;)

Posted by: Lisa | 03/27/2006 at 08:36 AM

Okay so I have read a few other posts and comments on this debate and I truly enjoy yours the most. Oh and NOT just cause your my friend lol.Here's the thing, they are always two sides to any one story and this is one has many more then two sides. I don't agree with the whole you HAVE to stay attractive to your husband thing, TOO a certain degree. I myself married young and had children young so I was always either pregnant or trying to lose the weight. We finally had the "surgery" so we couldn't have any more children and instead of LOSING the weight I gained. A lot. I didn't do it purposely and my husband gained as well, it just happened and one day I woke up and looked in the mirror and saw it. I was not happy and apparently my husband agreed lol, although he never told me. I started to work out and be healthy,because I had this fear of "losing" my husband. Guess what? It had NOTHING to do with my weight and everything to do with the fear of rejection because of my life growing up. In the end you need to be healthy for your children and husband and FOR YOURSELF. When I wake up and look in the mirror, I finally am happy with myself (mostly,although I admittedly have some issues). I work out and see muscles in my arms that I didn't have before and guess what? I turn myself on damn-it! It has nothing to do with what my husband does for me and everything to do with what I do for myself.My biggest concern on this "issue" is other women judging other women. I don't think "skinny" women have room to judge and I don't think "fat" women should "hate" on the thinner ones. I think the reason they do this is because they are personally unhappy with themselves. I mean skinny women feel the need to put others done to make themselves feel better and fatter women need to be hurtful before someone is hurtful to them.I agree with you Lena that often times when I'm happy, there really isn't a good enough reason NOT to eat the stupid fries, or maybe I'm too damn tired to work out. It just comes down to doing the best you can and having open communication with your husband. If you have personal issues that make you eat large amounts, than you don't need hateful words, you need therapy. At this point it's not about weight but emotional health.Bottom line is no one should judge, we all have are issues and I don't think it's fair to ourselves to do that. I think that if your husband is happy and you are too, than good for you. If not, than you should do something about it. Oh and to other people that have the need to butt into my life and tell me what THEY don't agree with or like, and judge me! It's NOT YOUR F'ING LIFE, and I didn't ask you what you thought about it. SHUT-Up and work on your own damn problems.The End (sorry for the LONG comment)Oh and now that I have re-read it like 7 times I think you HAVE to submit this one, it's amazing.

Posted by: Virenda | 03/27/2006 at 11:35 AM

I agree with you. We should watch what we eat and exercise. I have gained an enormous amout of weight since I got married and it has been a struggle to get it down. It will take me about 8 more months to get to where I want to be..and I realize, I did it to myself.With that being said, I resent that my husband would hold my weight against me. I take care with my appearance and he has gained as much weight. He needs to take care of himself as well.Finally, when we have those babies, it takes co-operation and support from our spouses to get back in the gym and when you don't have it, what are you going to do? If you have to pick-up the kids and feed them, if they cling to you and your husband does not help out and refuses to let you go to the gym - he has surrendered all right to compain about weight.

Posted by: Ditsy Chick | 03/27/2006 at 08:57 PM

Amen to that ditsy chick! If they can't help you help yourself...well, then they need to deal with it. I had a friend who went through that - her husband threw a hissy fit if she wanted to walk down their road a mile and back. So she asked for a treadmill. He said nope, not spending the money on it. She wanted to join the gym. Nope..too much money. Yet he had the audacity to complain about her weight. Would go on all day golfing trips while she was stuck at home, with no vehicle, with their two kids. He never let her have time for herself. And she was only about 20 lbs overweight.Ya know what happened? She left him. Found a guy who loved her the way she was and treated her like gold. I was so happy for her. She's happy, and ended up losing weight being happy. Complete opposite of me - when I'm stressed, I can't eat. Anyway...this whole topic has been on my mind the past 2 days! Must go watch Desperate Housewives or something.

Posted by: Lisa | 03/28/2006

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