Appetite for Living

I lost weight by taking better care of both my body and my marriage

I stared at myself in the full-length mirror on the back of the bedroom door. Just as I was thinking, Hey, I look thinner, the clock radio popped on.

"Heavy in all the usual places," the announcer barked.

"How could he know?" I laughed at the coincidence. He was just doing his job, reporting the Metro-Detroit traffic, but it might as well have been a report on my weight-loss saga. Weight-loss struggles marked my early married years with a series of discouraging starts and stops.

I felt trapped inside myself. Thoughts of liposuction scared me. Stomach surgery sounded painful. Most frightening of all was the idea of dieting. My husband, Jeff, supported me in my efforts. He even participated with me in some of my diets. I had tried the eat-until-you're-full diet, but my full button never flashed on (or I just ignored it). Jeff liked the quick-easy-shake-gelatin-and-salad diet, but it made me sick (literally). At the end of the first week, I wanted to gag at the sight of leaf lettuce.

I hadn't always been overweight. As a single woman, I kept active riding horses, water-skiing, snow-skiing, jogging, skating, playing tennis, swimming, bicycling, or aerobicizing. But emotional eating finally caught up with me when I married and my activity level fell to a sharp low. I remember responding to normal newlywed issues by second-guessing my true feelings, saying nothing, or laughing off issues I should have worked through. For example, instead of talking with Jeff about how we wanted to spend holidays and then communicating this to our parents, I went along with everyone else's wishes.

I Am Not a Pie Crust

Emotionally, I felt like a piece of pastry, stretched and rolled so thin I had holes. I wanted to please Jeff; I wanted his family and friends to love me. I communicated no boundaries and said, "Okay, sure" to whatever plans were made, however inconvenient to myself or our new marriage. People had no way of knowing the demands of our schedule. Jeff had no way of knowing the private turmoil going on inside my heart. Instead of communicating healthy boundaries, I stuffed my feelings down with food. It was my attempt at "helping" the situation by means of a candy bar, cream-filled sponge cake, pizza, or whatever.

I found myself overeating to great excess at get-togethers. I ate so much, I felt sick. Then I turned around and ate more. One day someone handed me a picture. Who was that 200-pound woman wearing my clothes, my face, and my smile, sitting in that lawn chair? I stared incredulously as I recognized myself.

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May 25