I came back from a fantastic vacation at the beach with my family two weeks ago, stepped on a scale, and came to the realization that I have gained approximately TWENTY FIVE pounds since I moved to New Jersey just over two years ago. I did the calculations and found that I was officially outside my healthy BMI, and therefore “overweight.” It shocked me because I have never packed on this many pounds before. For most of my life, I have been an “average” size 8 (depending upon designer of course), and therefore have recognized this as my normative state. I gained the freshman 15 in college, but managed to work about half of that off fairly quickly and felt reasonably comfortable in my own skin again.
During my nine month engagement, I did try to be intentional about my eating habits, and even worked out here and there. I did not want to become a hyper-obsessed bride, pushing myself to achieve a “perfect” version of myself, guaranteed to fade as soon as the vows were said. I didn’t maintain a certain goal weight or exercise regime in order to snag a man while I was single, so why would that drastically change after marriage? But I also told myself that after the wedding, I refused to be the girl that “let herself go.” So how did I not realize that slowly but surely, I was gaining about one pound per month?
We moved to the Heights from Hoboken last June, and I can probably count on one hand the times I exercised from June 2011 until April 2012. In January, I resolved to become more active, but the cold weather in combination with my lack of gym membership kept me sluggish. But this spring I realized I was having trouble fitting into far too many of my clothes. I noticed the dreaded belly paunch was returning in a serious way. My hips widened by at least two inches. I started to dread getting dressed in the morning, looking in the mirror, and shopping for new additions to my wardrobe. In May I decided I had had enough. I was finally getting fit, dang it.
Every month since then, I have slowly but surely been increasing my level of exercise. I was feeling really good about the progress I made even while on vacation, feeling that I ate well but not over ate, as well as having biked, run, and swam. But then I got on the scale and saw I had broken into the next ten-digit ceiling and I was furious. I finally hit a breaking point. I got off the scale and vehemently told my husband I was finally trying an official diet plan.
Today marks the start of my third week on a diet, and it has been both harder and easier than I expected. I shared with my dinner group the night I joined that I thought I could adjust my weight on my own, because I had done it in the past with minimal effort. But after three months of attempting to eat intentionally and exercise more regularly, it turns out I could not. Sometimes discipline is necessary and good, even though I HATE IT. I don’t like being told how much or not to eat and when. But the choices I was making on my own were apparently not good ones. Joining a formalized diet plan for the first time in my twenty seven years is an admission that I don’t have it all together. Sometimes you have to admit you need help and accountability.
Over the past two years, I have heard the phrase “eat like a New Yorker” countless times. Twenty-five months after moving here and consistently eating out and partaking of NYC’s consistently delicious fare, I finally get it first hand. So many people here have expensive gym memberships because you pretty much have to join a gym if you want to live the city life and maintain a healthy weight. It’s frustrating, but it is also reality. Eating out in New York is deeply ingrained in the lifestyle here – it is not just eating for fuel, but a memorable aesthetic experience to enjoy.
There is also the reality that I should not eat equal portions with my husband. This is hard, especially when we are cooking together and I am not necessarily dishing out my own portions. I am a female, and six inches shorter than Nick. It should be common sense that I need to eat less, and yet there is a selfish, warped part of my brain that says it’s not “fair” that I should have to eat less. I also somewhat blame my increased appetite on the blasted hormones in birth control. (Ugh!!)
Now, I am not about to give up eating out or treat foods altogether. I recognize that ultimately what is important is balance, and I have let the pendulum swing too far towards eating food for pure enjoyment. I want to eat delicious foods, but in moderation. I want to eat more of what fuels my body for energy, and less what my brain and tastebuds are craving. My husband still tells me I’m beautiful (bless him), but I want to feel confident and comfortable in my own skin and in my clothes. Although I can not deny that I want to look good, being “skinny” is not nearly as important as pursuing a healthy lifestyle and habits that will stick long-term.
I would really love to hear from other women/wives/brides on this topic. Did you gain weight when you got married or got serious with your significant other? How did you deal with it? What is the hardest thing to say no to when you are sharing food with your husband? What works to keep yourself motivated to live a healthy lifestyle?