Lip-Smackin’ Matrimony (or How Marriage Made Me Fat)

Left: August 2010, Right: August 2012

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?

11 thoughts on “Lip-Smackin’ Matrimony (or How Marriage Made Me Fat)

  1. Hi Erika! Thank you, once again, for your open honesty about your struggles. It is so comforting to know, I am not the only one dealing with these things. I have struggled with my weight my entire life, or at least my body image. I’ve only been in the “overweight” range for the later part of my twenties and now the beginning part of my thirties. As a Newlywed, I’m definitely the heaviest I’ve ever been…. getting dangerously close to the 200lb mark, and even though I’m tall…. it’s just not healthy to be getting that heavy. As of 31st birthday, I decided I need to finally get this under control, or risk getting above the 200lb mark. I do not want to go there! I’ve been re-learning how to eat for the last 3+ weeks, and also exercising. I feel, for the first time in my life, like I really “get” this whole fitness thing. I’m using MyFitnessPal on my iPhone and online, which helps me track both my calories and my workouts. I love it! I finally understand how many calories/how much I need to exercise in order to lose weight. Good luck on your journey. I know we can both do it!!

    1. Laura, thanks so much for following along and sharing your struggle as well! It’s so great that you are determined to make that choice now.

      I found I really enjoyed tracking my activity over the past few months, but I just wasn’t ready to start tracking my food the same way. I was adding in super foods, cutting cheese out of my salads, trying to go light on the bready carbs, and reducing my dairy milk consumption but saw no difference! The idea of counting calories seemed exhausting, so I decided to give Weight Watchers a whirl since it was a bit of a short cut on the time spent calorie counting and fits my busy schedule. So far, I was surprised to see over 3 lbs come off the first week and 1.5 this past week, so I have to admit its working!

      I would love to hear about the milestones you continue to hit. Here’s to fit newlyweds!

  2. I’ve gained all mine because of having a desk job and not having the “time” to exercise over the past few years and likeing food WAY too much. My doctor kept bugging me (being 5′-1″) I was “obese” for my height & age (back in January-March). Even though I had been ‘eating better’ and exercising & using a (free) online calorie counter, it just wasn’t working for me. My doctor told me to do (online) weight watchers. And it has actually worked!
    I’ve learned to know portion sized better; which at the end of the day, really is the key to it all. I upped my veggie & fruit intake (which sadly also increases your grocery bills) but I’ve lost 20 pounds since March; at least one pant size & my BMI & body fat has gone way down.
    I try to run/jog 3 days a week and do aerobic-style pilates & strength training the other days of the week (Crunch work-outs are Awesome; Netflix has them).
    It really is all about dedication & self control. If I have ice cream or eat some cookies or whatever disgustingly good Pinterest recipe I make, I try to go for a walk later or do some sort of ‘exercise’ because I know I’ll feel better about it. Having a support system helps too. My fiance reminds me that maybe I shouldn’t have that cookie or piece of bread, but it’s OK if I do, and to make sure I at track it in my points so that I’m aware.
    I’ve still got at least 20 pounds to go (hopefully before my wedding day next June!)
    I know WW costs money (to have the online tracking system) but it really does work. For my body type, “counting” carbs, protein, fat & fiber (versus calories) is the real key to losing weight.
    Good luck Erika!!!

    1. Jenny, Weight Watchers is what I finally decided to try! (See previous comment response.) I was skeptical but it really is working thus far. I do feel hungry fairly often but I realize my stomach will shrink a bit eventually so that hopefully won’t last throughout the whole program! I am definitely eating a ton more fruit to stave off the cravings. It is so encouraging to hear the success you’ve had thus far, and it sounds like you will be fit, healthy, and gorgeous for your wedding πŸ™‚

  3. Erika, you are beautiful inside and out! I’m proud of you for taking action and joining WW! You’re right…it’s easier and harder than I thought too! Thankfully veggies and fruit are all free! Otherwise I’d be in trouble! Let’s keep each other in check! Love you!

    1. Thanks D, I’m proud of you too for embracing discipline and making changes in your life! We’ll have to keep cooking awesome WW-friendly meals on Mondays πŸ™‚

  4. I too didn’t diet my way to being the perfect bride. I have pretty much stayed the same weight in our first year of marriage despite living with a man who wanted meat 3 meals a day. We’re both learning to compromise!
    The biggest adjustment that I’m making is that we now have a car. I have spent 3 years walking or biking to work every day. That was 45 minutes of walking every day so I could happily indulge my dislike of cardio. If I take the car everywhere I fear my weight will increase and my fitness level decrease.
    I also notice that as I get older even if I’m the same weight it is redistributing itself around my body!

    1. I feel like you are one of the few who has remained the same, Clara! That is pretty great πŸ™‚ Compromise is an art.

      I understand your concern about the car lowering your activity level – already we have driven too many times to Hoboken that we wouldn’t have otherwise! If you ever find yourself wanting to have a chat and a stroll around the Heights, I’m your girl!

  5. Congratulations on a great article and your progress so far. I’ve been fighting this battle since your dad was born and you know how long that has been. What is working for me now is running 15 miles a week, doing water aerobics and eating half of what I want!!!!! Ugh! Who ever said life is fair.

  6. I can totally relate!!!! I am a newlywed, but my husband and I have been living together for a few years now and we both have gained weight since co-habitating and every year its get harder and harder to keep off. Some things I have come to realize only lately is (like you realized) you can’t eat the same amount as your husband, nor do you need to. I often take seconds at dinner, even though I am full… because he took seconds. Another thing… I am a morning workout person. I always have been when I was single. But since being married, I don’t work out in the morning because its so much easier to stay in bed and cuddle with my hubby at 6am. After integrating your life so much with someone else, its hard to still carve out your time and your own way of doing things. One thing that worked for me this summer is I signed up for and trained for a half marathon and that got me moving! Best of all, it got him more work out conscious as well. I feel like I need a workout plan I can stick to this winter though… and I am bit scared that as it gets colder I’ll stop working out. I’ve heard weight watchers works wonders! You can do it!

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