Happy Body Changes

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A couple of weeks ago, reader M. dropped me a note about a body image crisis. She’d spent years and years learning to love and accept herself, and had finally reached what she considered to be a really healthy, serene, positive place. She was doing well in school, had a marvelous new boyfriend, and felt confident and on-track. But then she’d inexplicably gained some weight, and her clothes stopped fitting, and she just plummeted. She was depressed, and she was disappointed in herself for being depressed.

Naturally, I told her that she got to choose her own next move. When negative body image creeps in, it usually drags inertia with it and, frequently, the best way to get out of that rut is to decide what needs to change, and change it. I said to M., “If you’re unhappy with your body at a certain weight, YOU get to decide how to handle that. And that encompasses upping your exercise and changing eating patterns to see if weight loss will alleviate your current distress and unhappiness, but it also encompasses deciding if there are ways to learn to accept and love your body right now at its new weight and shape.”

And then I went out on a limb and mentioned the new boyfriend. Because I know from experience that love can affect body shape and weight. When I married my husband, I gained nearly 45 pounds in the two years following our wedding. We frequently associate weight gain with depression and unhappiness, but believe me, I was happy beyond happy during that time. Sometimes weight shifts when something really good – like love – enters our lives. And that DOESN’T mean that we should shun romantic advances or dump our partners. OBVIOUSLY. But it means that we may gain weight because we’re eating out more, baking tasty desserts as part of a fun courtship, nesting, having many more marvelous nights out at the bar than usual, spending weekends in bed, or any of the other high-calorie, low-activity behaviors that often go hand-in-hand with finding a new love. It’s not the “fault” of our lovers, naturally, it’s just a part of the circumstances and activities that surround being lovestruck, And just knowing that can be beneficial. Society wants us to view weight gain as failure, no matter the cause, and we are conditioned to feel that way. But it needn’t be so. Weight gained from happy events may irritate us initially, but it is really as a hallmark of joy, excitement, acceptance, and the warm, loving feelings that come with falling hard for someone special.

Now, of course, the question becomes how to deal with happy body changes. Do you accept the new shape you’ve got, or do you try to change that shape? And that’s a question that each person must make for herself.

When M. got back to me, she said that she HAD been going out for near-nightly beers with the new flame – something that hadn’t been part of her life before. She was happy to have found an explanation for her body’s shape shift, and just as happy to make a few cutbacks.

And I hope that some of you see yourselves reflected in her story. Weight shifts as life shifts. Sometimes we gain when we’re sad, or gain when we’re happy, lose when we’re sad, or lose when we’re happy. Just as Tess points out up there, it’s much more complex than a number on a scale.

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  • V

    Yes!! My boyfriend and I both gained quite a few kilos of weight for the first 2-3 years of our relationship. I managed to reduce back to my usual weight with a little bit of activity and he’s still trying to get rid of them! Haha! I love him however he looks, and we love teasing each other of how we got each other chubby, but we never got depressed with out weight gain We understood why and made the changes we wanted to.

  • Yes, my boyfriend and I have both gained weight since we got together, and we know why: We both love to cook. Liebe geht durch den Magen, as you say in Germany (roughly: Love goes through the stomach / A way to a man’s heart is through his stomach).

  • Hi, Sally I’m 32 years old and 5’5, for years since I was 18 till I was 26 my weight was 150 pounds. In 2006 due to stress I lost 12 pounds in less than a months. I was thrill! i love being 132 pounds, tought I could never be so slim, I feel free of worries as I could eat anything without gaining weight. Then a year later I started dating someone, after 8 months my weight was 154!!!! I had never been so heavier! answer I went out more often and I increase de amount of desserts and alcohol. What I did? dump my boyfriend (not for that reason!) and recover my original weight 150 and started climbing what its very helpful to stay in shape and tone my muscles.

  • I once dated a guy who was an evangelical vegan. He didn’t want to just be vegan, he wanted to convert those around him. He was good in other ways though and I was with him for 3.5 years…trying to be vegan. My body and the vegan diet don’t get along — I was miserable all the time, and I gained a whole bunch of weight.

    But I have experienced the more normal sort of new-relationship weight gain too. The only problem with it really is suddenly not being able to wear clothes that I’ve spent money on.

  • Jennifer

    My husband and I BOTH gained 30 pounds after getting married. It took us about a year to gain it, and 5 years later we still have it. Before I was very hourglass shaped, large hips and breasts, and now I have gained weight in my tummy. After a pregnancy, I also now have (even) heavier breasts. Oddly, I am just now really beginning to think about loosing some weight, and more for health reasons than appearance. Not that it doesn’t bother me from time to time, it does, but there are so many more important things to worry about. Also, since my pregnancy, which ended in a stillbirth, I have a much different perspective on things that used to matter a great deal. (Not saying other perspectives aren’t valid, just that my views of a lot of things have changed tremendously because of the experience) In addition, I have never been “skinny” so in a sense I was already used to some extra weight. Bottom line, I would like to loose the 30 pounds but I’m not quite there yet in terms of motivation. In the meantime, I’ve adjusted to dressing to fit the “new” me.

    • TinaPete

      Just reading this whole post and want to send you my sympathy on your loss. Surely it is true that we have different perspectives when we have these experiences. My best to you and your husband.

  • Miss T

    This is a little bit different sort of “weight gain love story”, but when I adopted my son as a newborn (I am single) I was so “in love” with him (and that sort of love is as all encompassing as the romantic kind) that I gained about 28 lbs! It happened over the first 2 years or so. And until I read your column I couldn’t figure out how that could have happened, as I ran my ASS off day and night for him during those first few years. But — I also took him to restaurants a lot so I didn’t have to cook, I would distractedly eat on the run a lot and not look to see what I was eating, I ate more frequently because my schedule was so different, I would over-shop groceries so I would have more time with him and not have to go to the store as much, etc. Same as the stuff that goes on with a new boyfriend!

    • Miss T

      Oh — my son is 5 now, and I’ve lost the weight. Life eventually settled into a more reasonable pattern and food (when-where-what to eat) is no longer the main focus.

  • Sarah

    My experience has always been that I lose a ton of weight after a heartbreak. There have only been a few, thank god, but after every one, I lost 30-50 pounds. I am a big-boned girl so my body is happiest at about 165-175, but all through my teens and early twenties, I hated my body and wanted to be petite and small-busted and skinny. I dieted for about ten years. But my body always plateaued at about 165 pounds. I could never get thinner than that, even when I ate only salad and worked out for an hour every day (EVERY DAY!)

    After a particulary bad break-up from a 5-year relationship in which we lived together and he cheated on me more than once, I went from about 175 to 125 pounds. I didn’t eat for months and when I tried, I would just throw up (not on purpose, just couldn’t keep it down). I always had an upset stomach and cramps and was absolutely miserable.

    Here is the crazy thing, though, that put a lot of my body issues to bed and gave me a total wake-up call regarding how I viewed my weight and my body: everywhere I went, I got compliments on my new body. I thought I looked terrible – I also wasn’t sleeping and poor nutrition is not good for your looks. I hated my body when I looked in the mirror, even though technically I had reached my goal weight from high school. I even got a compliment from the nurse who weighed me when I went in to get treated for depression!! She saw my last recorded weight and gave me props for losing 50 pounds. I started sobbing uncontrollably and she looked really confused.

    The total disconnect between how I felt about my body and how others felt about it made me realize that trying to be skinny wasn’t ever something I really wanted, just something I felt others wanted from me, or expected from me. If I felt like crap and everyone told me I looked beautiful, then the system is seriously f***ing flawed! I was starving, depressed, couldn’t sleep, laid in bed all day, didn’t exercise, lost my job, cried all the time, and I really wanted to die for a good 6 months. But I was skinny so in the eyes of society, I was a success. Once I fully wrapped my mind around that fact, all of my body hatred died down. It didn’t happen overnight but everytime I started to hate my big-boned body, I woudl remind myself of the compliments I got when I was absolutely miserable, and I would gain some perspective.

    • Sal

      Oh Sarah. Thank you for sharing your experiences. Your story gives us another example of how reinforcing weight loss without understanding its causes can be so damaging. I’m glad you were able to process it all and turn it into ownership of and love for your body. That takes real strength.

      • swissrose

        Absolutely.
        I was never thin, but in retrospect, normal weight. I had my first baby and jumped right back to that size, no problem.
        Then I met my husband. He is a gourmet, lots of nice meals and lovely restaurants, a love celebration… Gradually I gained. Had another baby, jumped back to the pre-birth weight plus a couple of pounds, no biggie. Settled into married mom life and still some nice meals and a bigger weight gain so I was getting unhappy about it, though very happy with my life. Another baby, again, never a problem getting back to conception weight.
        Wham, my husband found another “interest”, we separated and my weight went right back down – and suddenly all those compliments, how good I looked, how he must have been bad for me, I don’t know what, and yet miserable and unhappy with the way things were going. Huh??!!! I simply couldn’t eat, lost 30 lbs in 6 weeks, my world had collapsed and everyone thought it was good for me??!!
        He’s a good guy really and we got back together, happier than ever, still are (21 yrs married, 27 yrs together) and yet I have put all that weight back on. People say oh well, you had 3 kids (now 16-28!) but how can I blame them or use them as an excuse?! Having kids didn’t make me put on weight, but being happy and in love and enjoying life and good things did – oh, and he also put on a lot of weight over our time together!! Although we now feel we should begin controlling our weight, we are not crazy to be thin, just to remain in good health and not overdo it, to stay able to do all we want in the way of activities. We feel we are at the upper end of normal and want to be more in the middle, but it’s a battle when all around try to put their own opinions on you, makes it hard to be proud of all you’ve experienced. We’ll get there! Not least with the sound words from you, thanks.

    • i’ve been experiencing a really similar thing lately! this summer i trained for a triathlon (including taking up running for the first time), began working toward becoming a bodypump (weightlifting) instructor, but also experienced heartbreak that made me lose my appetite/feel sick all the time. post-breakup i also can’t handle drinking like i normally can, so i gave it up for awhile. all these things snowballed and i lost the 40 lbs. i had always been “wishing” i could lose. but, since i wasn’t expecting or trying to lose it, i haven’t known what to do with it (especially since all of a sudden people are commenting on it all the time, telling me i’m “so pretty and skinny!” WHAT???). on top of the heartbreak, i now also don’t really know what to do with a new body, and i’ve been experiencing sudden new fears about food (NONE of my clothes fit me, i can’t afford to replace them, i have to sometimes talk myself down from freaking out about eating a cookie). for the most part, this is a good change, and the result of getting really fit, which i like. but with the added element of such a drastic change, and the partial emotional causes, it has been a really strange thing to wrap my head around and adjust to.

  • Tara

    My husband and I both love good beer. It’s easy for us to get into the habit of watching movies with our dogs while drinking or current favorite micro-brew or hitting up a bar/pub with friends and downing a few…multiple times per week. Hence, I have gained weight (and lost it) and gained (and lost it) and gained (and am currently losing it) since we’ve been together. My weight gain always comes from happy experiences – too much Thai food, beer, wine, bread, lazy happy times, etc. Sometimes I just roll with it and accept my higher weight self. Then I’ll eventually get sick of it and lose the weight. It’s been a cycle my whole adult life. Maybe one day I’ll figure out moderation…and stick with it!

    • Kelli

      Tara, this sounds exactly like me!!! I like the way I look so much better at the lighter end of my spectrum (of around 15 lbs), but I usually am so much happier at the heavier end of the spectrum b/c it reflects a lot of good times!

  • Aziraphale

    This is a fascinating post. I can’t say my weight fluctuates due to either happiness or unhappiness. My shape seems to have some inertia to it — it really doesn’t want to budge much in either direction. But then, I dislike cooking and so does my partner — for us, the nesting instinct revolves around decorating the house rather than brownie baking! The only thing that seems to affect my weight is hormones — holy gonzoly, did I ever balloon out during pregnancy! (Although the amount of ice cream I was eating may have had something to do with that). I’ll have to ask around and see if any friends have noticed a relationship-dependent weight gain. I tend not to notice weight changes in others unless it’s dramatic.

  • Anne

    Yep, my husband and I both gained weight when we started dating, and again when we were first married, come to think of it, I believe my husband gained some sympathy weight with both of my pregnancies. Lucky for him all he has to do is cut back on the beer and pretzels and he’s back where he needs to be. Me, not so much.

    I think that if you’ve found some one who really loves and supports you, it takes a tiny bit of the pressure off regarding the urgency to lose weight. I think that’s good. That way your weight lose is motivated my health not because, “OMG, I never find a guy if I’m this fat!”

  • E

    Oh man, I’ve struggled with this one for ages, since high school actually. My boyfriend and I started dating when I was 15. We dated for 3 years and I gained about 30 pounds thanks to constantly eating out/laying around. We split up for a year and I lost about 20 of those pounds! However, when we got back together the weight slowly started creeping back on. I studied abroad for a summer and lost some weight but, of course, I’m right back to where I was previously.

    I think its just as hard to be completely aware of the cause/correlation as it is to be in the dark. I love all the (in)activities we do together and I love going out to eat, and I hate knowing that the times we’ve spent apart have been my healthiest in 7 years. Boy does that suck to write out.

  • Yes, that has absolutely been my experience, and it’s totally worth it! 🙂

  • Stacy

    I met a wonderful man a few months ago after going through a divorce and dating a lot of men who really are single for good reason. I find myself skipping my regular workouts so I have more time to spend with my guy. It doesn’t help that he’s a great cook and knows how to make amazing homemade hot fudge. 🙂 I recognized early on that this could be a problem for my small frame (that tends to show weight gain immediately), so I cut back in other areas. Fewer lunches out and walking during lunch break instead. Going for quick runs in the evening. Using every ounce of willpower I have to resist the Halloween candy so I can indulge in that hot fudge. And my guy says he’ll start running with me, too.

  • this is really interesting to think about, and i really appreciate the comments.

    i weigh approximately 50 pounds more than i did when my husband and i first got together 11 years ago, for SO MANY REASONS…the year before we met was one of the worst years of my life, which skinnied me right down…we lived in chicago, and i walked EVERYWHERE, plus my job was pretty physical…i was 27, so it was easier to lose weight…now, i’m well into a comfy, happy relationship, we live in los angeles (helloooo, car city), i DON’T have a physical job, i’ve evolved into a TOTAL food nerd (cooking, dining out, trying ANYTHING, plus mmm, wine & cocktails!), and where i would have been fine at 27 with a few spoonfuls of spaghetti sauce out of a jar and calling it dinner, the mister is very much a “proper meal” kind of guy.

    i’ve done weight watchers a couple of times, and definitely lost weight…but here i am at my highest weight ever. plus, don’t ‘they’ say that yo-yo-ing is actually worse for you than just being kind of overweight? i REALLY don’t want to go down and then up AGAIN (even though i’m feeilng fairly crappy about myself at this weight). BUT i do have high blood pressure, and heart problems in the family…so losing weight seems healthy. what i REALLY want is to get to a place where i’m happy where i am, WHEREVER i am. i turn 39 next week…i’d love to lose 40 pounds by 40, but even more, i’d love to be done with self-loathing by the time i’m 40.

  • This has happened to me before so I was careful this time to up my exercise and eat healthier when I wasn’t with the new boyfriend. We tend to go out to eat more than I did when I was single and you know what that means… french fries. But it’s something I’m aware of throughout the week, and adjust my eating at work and at breakfast so I can stay my same size (because I need my massive wardrobe to continue to fit!)

  • Beth

    This is so interesting, especially for me right now. I have gained weight but very slowly over my 10 yrs of marriage. Just recently I have noticed the clothes not fitting thing, however. And I have been so down about it. And like your letter-writer, I am so angry at myself for being down! And I am angry at myself because I have bigger things to worry about than my slight weight gain. Something hit our lives recently that has caused huge amounts of stress. A health issue. I always wished I was one of those people who didn’t want to eat when they were stressed – that sounds awful now that I read it! I always thought, “If something REALLY bad happens, I won’t be able to eat.” Well, something really bad happened, and I am still eating. Sometimes I wonder, does this mean I am not really as upset as I should be? Am I just that shallow that I can still be hungry in the midst of a totally frightening and stressful situation? But that’s sick, what a way to think! We have been eating lots of take out and frozen foods, as dealing with doctors and hospitals and fatigue and all of that makes you less than jazzed about cooking. And people are sending us all sorts of goodies and care packages, which is of course not low-calorie! And I have no energy to work out, even though I know that is sort of a loop that feeds in on itself – if I worked out I might feel better. I am hoping when this is all over that I will have renewed engergy and motivation to live healthfully.

  • I think it’s important to mention that it doesn’t have to be an either/or type of situation. You can be working on getting back to your old shape in a healthy way AND coming to terms with your new body. They don’t have to be exclusive and that was the problem I had been having over the past few months. Finally, I’m happy with the body I have now, but at the same time, I’m overhauling my diet and exercise routine.

  • Nebraskim

    You know, when you said you broached the idea of the boyfriend, my mind went straight to “is the boyfriend the one who is somehow telegraphing to you that your new body shape is unacceptable?” Because sadly, that happens, too. Either he overtly says “I’d love you more if you were thinner/fatter” (in which case, DUMP HIM) or you think to yourself, “he would love me more if I were thinner/fatter.” That’s the harder issue, isn’t it? Because then, perhaps what you are saying to yourself is “I would love me more if I were thinner/fatter.”

    Or am I just totally over thinking this?

    I’m glad in this instance it was merely a matter of owning up to the fact her eating/drinking/exercise patterns have changed and need to be readjusted.

  • Marsha Calhoun

    Yup – weight gain often occurs when you’re happy. My now-husband’s previous girlfriend once said to me while they were together that she knew she had gained weight and her mother had told her that she had done so because she was happy (don’t worry – it was many years later that husb and I got together, long after they had separated; we were all friends at the time). When my late husband died, I dropped a lot of weight (and a gall bladder, not unrelatedly), and over the last 14 years I have gained much of it back, but since I am now much more physically active it has arranged itself differently. I learned that when you hate being alive, you stop eating, and when you are glad you are alive, eating is a pleasure, one that it is fun to share. I may have worn clothes well when I was super-skinny, but I was skinny because I was truly heartbroken and would never want that again. I think the idea that you gain weight because you are somehow unhappy with some aspect of your life that you are ignoring is a myth perpetrated by people who can get paid to tell you that.

  • Kate

    😀 This happened to both my boyfriend and me! For him, it was because I made him eat proper meals instead of (I’m not kidding) frozen corn out of the packet. For me, it was because (I think) I stopped being a workaholic and also started eating more substantial meals. I guess for both of us, the weight gain reflected an improvement in lifestyle and diet.

  • D

    I don’t remember what was going on with my body at the beginning of my relationship with Husby, but I do remember gaining some weight after marrying him. I was at a pretty low weight when I married him; I had some outside stressers with my college education and social group that were really effecting me. I suppose when my life became more calm, I gained weight.

    I was mostly accepting of my new figure, though the change wasn’t extreme, so I don’t know if it would have been different if I had gained more. I held on to that weight until about a year ago, when I started practicing with my roller derby league.

  • No, can’t say that I have. I’ve noticed my gf’s put some weight on that I didn’t like. But for me I usually get motivated to hit the gym harder when i’m in a releationship…counter intuitive I know, but hey i aim to please. =)

  • Sonja

    Spanish boyfriend – fried food. Do I have to say more? When we were in a long-distance relationship, I came back several pounds heavier every time I visited him, due to all those evenings going out to eat tapas and drink beer. But we had lots of fun! 🙂

  • Great post. It’s OKAY to gain a little extra fluff on occasion. Sometimes it just shows that we let ourselves have some extra food fun! The important thing is to keep it from getting out of hand an still make mostly healthy choices…and to not freak out!

  • Hetty

    Being in a happy relationship put the weight on for both of us! We weren’t eating out, but my husband is great cook. So we ate great at home. We just failed to increase our exercise. It took a while for us to realize we needed to make a change (together, of course) about our meals and exercise. We’ve managed to change our eating habits. But we haven’t found a good way to work out together. Despite having a German Shepherd dog. I think we all know what exercise must be included in this family’s plans!

  • ChefAmy

    I gained 12 lbs in the first year or so of marriage, but in the second year, I lost 40 lbs (25% of my body weight). I did it on purpose and basically through calorie counting. However, I think it was my marriage that enabled me to lose the weight and attain a body that I’m proud of. My husband gave me support, praise, and pep talks when I was feeling the diet was just too hard (it was very sensible, he wasn’t urging me to do anything dangerous). Most of all, we’re both committed to working out and I know I’m more consistent about exercise since I met him. When I was single, I’d often bag my gym plans and/or buy junk food that I don’t feel proud to eat in front of someone else. Has anyone else noticed that being in a relationship with someone who’s committed to health and fitness has positive effects on both partners?

  • Eleanorjane

    Yup, my husband and I definitely gained weight when we got married. It’s the making ‘proper’ dinners, I think.

    I’ve been getting slowly, slowly bigger over the past 10 years and I am finally putting a stop to it. My husband and I are on MyFitnessPal – a website where you track your calories and exercise and I can’t speak highly enough of it! I’m finding it much better than my dabbles with Weight Watchers.

    I’ve just turned 35 and I’m ready to stop looking matronly and start being fitter, stronger and more shapely. I’ve lost 11 pounds in about 6 weeks and aim to lose another 10 to put me on the border between ‘overweight’ and ‘healthy’ BMI (I know people have issues with BMI and I really don’t feel like being as skinny as the BMI guide suggests!). I haven’t been doing masses of exercise, but have done more and I can see some muscle tone coming out, which is nice too. 🙂

  • Tara

    I gained about 30lbs in the first three years of dating my last boyfriend. He had a high metabolism and ate all the time. I for the most part accepted my body with those occational moments of frustration we all have with things not fitting as they used to and getting used to a new shape. He on the other hand found my new shape unattractive. Which made me feel bad about it. Needless to say we aren’t together anymore but strangely the weight has been dropping off since I am no longer eating all the time and I no longer feel bad for having curves. I still like them.

  • Cat

    My hubby was too skinny when we met due to weight loss after the end of his 1st marriage. He jokes about being fat and happy. As for me I brag that at 44 I can still fit into my wedding dress. Of course it’s the one I wore for my 2nd wedding at age 35. The one I wore at 23 was much smaller, but that’s O.K. because I’m so much happier now. My tummy will never be the same after my twins, but it was totally worth it!

  • Eden

    This post is very timely for me.

    I’ve been married 9 months. It was a long distance relationship, so my husband and I have been making up for lost time and dating as newly weds. And we’ve both gotten fluffy. He went from skin and bones to a healthy weight… what with now having a wife who insists on square meals. I’ve gone from a wee bit pudgy to a bit more pudgy.

    We’re now evaluating our schedule to see where we can fit in more exercise. And we’re trying to plan menus that are not so treat-heavy. Although I’d rather be a fit size 10 then a fluffy 12, I’m really happy….. Happy to have a sweet man to cook for every day. Happy to have someone hug me and lovingly pat my ample behind and tell me that I’m pretty just how I am.

    The comment above from Sarah, who lost vast amounts of weight when depressed, also really struck a chord with me. The only time I’ve been “society skinny” was when I was caring for my best friend when she was gravely ill. I also had to be treated for depression because I couldn’t stop crying, and I couldn’t eat. I got complements on my new physique, but I was miserable. I’ll take my current body and stable mental health over a flat tummy any day.

  • Kylara7

    I’ve gained a little weight when in the new dating phase, where you’re going out to dinner and drinks more often while you’re just getting to know each other and then staying in and cooking together or ordering takeout when you start to settle into a committed relationship, but I’ve also gained weight when I was bored or not paying attention to taking care of myself, while either partnered or single, and putting off my own self-care, nutrition, and exercise as last priority. I lose weight when I’m stressed or depressed…my negative emotions go right to my gut and I feel nauseated much of the time and can’t eat. I now know better what my body is trying to tell me in either case and have found better ways to deal with positive AND negative changes and put myself as first priority…if I eat well, exercise, manage my stress, sleep well, etc. then I am more effective in every other aspect of my life, as a partner, as a friend, as an employee. It’s a journey of self-knowledge and a series of lessons that you get to learn over and over, in each new situation that confronts you, not something you fix once and it’s done. At each present moment, you assess, weigh the options, and take action…and that’s awesome 🙂

  • Hubby and I both got pretty pudgy together in the first six yrs of wedded bliss, and have now gotten back to our sexy svelte selves together by running and eating better. Along the way we continued to love and support each other! Now we are living a healthy lifestyle as an example for our kids. But we still enjoy the beer!!!

  • I’ve gained about 30 lbs since starting to date my Gentleman Caller. We spent most of our time cuddled on the couch, drinking wine and eating cheese. And while I wouldn’t have given that up, it’s also very frustrating… Oh well, love is better than worrying!

  • Lydia

    My clothes have fit the same for the last twelve years (of a 16 year realationship and marriage). My husband suffered a sudden accident (he is slowlly better now) a few years ago, and I could not eat for about 2 weeks — I simplly gagged when I tried to eat. I lost around 12 – 15 pounds (I do not know exactly as I do not wiegh myself) in a a month, and I was extremely unhappy and devastated. My pants simply slid off me. It was a neat feeling to be lighter, but I would rather have not lost the weight out of extreme stress and not experienced his accident, than be thinner.

    As he got better, it felt good to feel lighter, but the cost was not worth it. He is slowly recovering, but I have gained some weight because I just have taken on more responsibilities at home, that he can no longer help with. I used to exercise more regularly, but because he is tired so easily, and I want to spend time with him, I go home earlier, and forgo exercise (I do some light stretching at home etc…). Lesson learned — while I enjoy feeling lighter — less pressure and stiffness on joints, it is not worth my happiness, and put it into perpective what mattered the most was happiness, and health –after 12 or so years, my clothes are tighter, but I know I can get back to where I was when my life stabilizes — for me, happiness is more important than weight.

  • Gayna

    I DID put on weight after getting married, I haven’t lost it, I complained to my husband for a while, But with so many positive affirmations from him I started to believe him, and started seeing myself as the curvy, sexy woman that he told me I was! don’t get me wrong, every woman has bad body days, but hell it’s kind of nice to appreciate your own body.

  • yep, I’m in the weight-gain stage right now: after 9 years of living together, we got married and whoop! I got a bit chubby, just like that. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll accept it or make changes to reduce it. I’m also at the end of my phd, and quite honestly, I’m so exhausted and strapped for time, that I know I need to cut myself some slack and recognize that I might not have the time to get a proper exercise regimen going right now. So, we shall see…the first step was putting my skinny little me clothes away so I could stop feeling bad about myself every morning – and finding new clothes that fit my body now (and limiting myself to thrifting for the time being, since I don’t know if this body is permanent yet)

  • sarah

    Thank you for this! You articulated something I “knew” but didn’t realize I knew, but needed to hear?? 🙂 When my hubby and I got engaged about 2 years ago, he started gaining weight (men aren’t immune!). Yet I knew he was happy… I mean, I *thought* he was happy… but I wondered… after all, society tells us weight gain is “bad” right? So what’s going on? Although he is working on getting and staying healthy – an endeavor I certainly support him in – I am now seeing the gain is more happiness-related than anything else. And that makes *me* happy too!

  • Sally,
    This is such a great piece! I went through the same thing when I got married. I had watched my weight for SOOO long and then when I found the right man I let it all hang out. Ha! Finding the balance is where it is out.

  • Anna-Lisa

    My husband and I got married, moved to a new city where the summers are so hot we don’t spend much time doing active outdoors things, and got our first grown-up jobs, so we can afford to eat out a lot more. I don’t know which of these things was the most to blame, but we definitely gained weight. Although I’m all for appreciating your body, I think part of that is making healthy choices to take care of your body, and for us I think the weight gain came from not making as many healthy choices… we’re working on going hiking together for fun instead of going out to eat together for fun.

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  • This article is like the story of my life. Err, or of my marriage. In my first year of marriage, I gained 20 pounds. And I’ve been that weight ever since. It took me almost four years to be comfortable with it, but I finally tool control of my body this year and started eating better and exercising regularly. The number on the scale hasn’t changed, but my body feels stronger and I feel much better in it. So it’s a little of both…change and acceptance.