“We saw a couple I had met when they first hooked up together seventeen years ago. The woman . . . had always been thin, and tense, and exciting. But after sixteen years of marriage, [she] had gained a good thirty pounds. And she was radiantly happy. So I thought, Huh — maybe happiness sometimes weighs a bit more.”
— Lank, in Crooked Little Heart, by Anne Lamott
I’m spending the afternoon cooking, making soup and a casserole to portion out, take for lunches, and freeze for later. This is something I used to do regularly after I moved to DC, but I have gotten out of the habit. I don’t mind telling you that, like many of my other healthy habits, this one went out the window right around the time David and I got together. It should come as no surprise, then, that in the four months I’ve been with David, I’ve gained about 13 pounds. This is not acceptable, and I’m trying to figure out why I let it happen.
The receptionist at my WW meeting, when I remarked during a week I gained that I was on the “I’m in love diet,” said, “Oh, well, now that you’ve got him, you don’t have to keep trying,” or something to that effect. I just smiled and didn’t respond, but I was floored for two reasons. First, the implication that I was losing weight in the first place to attract a man, as if no one would find me attractive unless I were skinny, or as if I weren’t choosing to lose weight for myself. Second, the idea that once you “land” a partner, you can just let yourself go because he loves you no matter what. The “loves you no matter what part” may be true, but the idea that you can just stop taking care of yourself boggles the mind.
What I’m getting at with this is that, for me, the fact that I’ve found the person I want to be with for the rest of my life is not the reason I’ve stopped taking care of myself. Whatever David may think of me, I don’t feel good about myself when I don’t take care of myself the way I know I should and the way I did pretty consistently for the first two-plus years after I started WW.
Being with David has certainly changed my life quite a bit, and I don’t have the routine that I had when I was single, which I think is the hardest challenge of all. Going to the gym after work, especially in the beginning of our relationship, came second to coming home and making and eating dinner together. I’ve gotten better about this lately, and he will sometimes come with me to the gym, but I need to be doing a much better job. Part of my problem, though, is that I like to be where he is, so I often choose not to go (by reaching into my rather large bag of increasingly flimsy excuses) or to go for less time than I ordinarily might, in order to spend more time with him.
Of course, we also go out to eat quite a bit, where I almost never did before. I think I’m still in the mindset that eating out is special so I don’t have to be as strict with what I choose because it’s not a common occurrence . . . only it kind of is now, and I need to start looking at it the same way I look at my everyday meals.
I think I’ve said this before, but I think the central challenge in any relationship is not to lose yourself. I spent a long, long time single, learning who I am, where I’ve gone wrong in the past, and what I want out of life. I’m lucky that way, because it allowed me to recognize in David a partner, and I have approached this relationship from a position of really trying to learn from mistakes I made in prior relationships, and it’s so different than my past relationships because of that. But I think it also made me so lonely for companionship that I’ve been willing to compromise things that are important to me in order to be close to him. I should make it clear that the idea to compromise doesn’t come from him at all – I’ve talked to him about all of this, and he always says, “Tell me what I can do to help you,” and “Do what is best for you, and don’t worry about me.” It’s me, because I’ve apparently decided that, right now, building this relationship or being with him takes precedence over just about everything else.
Ever since I started WW, I’ve had a goal, and I’ve worked pretty steadily toward it. It’s not about a number; it’s about being as healthy as I can be while still living the life I want for myself (and recognizing what’s realistic about the life I want – I’m never going to be the girl who can just eat whatever she likes, no matter how much I wish that were true; I need to accept that and work around it, not pretend like it’s not true and hope for the best). I need to refocus and remember how I got as far as I have, and figure out how to bring a better balance into my life on these issues. Being with David makes me wildly happy, but there are other things that I need to be happy, too, and I have to devote as much time to those as I do to my relationship in order to get all of the things I want out of life.
And today is as good a day as any to start.