Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Hi, Carolyn: My husband said a few months ago, “I’m worried you’re gaining weight.” I am about 5 pounds higher than I should be according to BMI charts. I’d love to lose 20 pounds and look like I did 13 years ago. But I have been working out, eating right, getting tested for thyroid problems, etc., and nothing is changing.
Setting aside whether there are other things I could be doing (like working with a personal trainer), what if this is just me? Just who I am right now? My cholesterol, blood sugar, everything — it’s all fantastic. No health problems. Just chubby. I’m so sad. I recently found myself Googling “how to be anorexic.” I say that in the full knowledge that it’s an awful disease that people die from. But this is how horrible I feel.
I Just Cannot Lose Weight
Never miss a local story.
That does sound horrible. And cruel.
Aging changes bodies, it just does, and the only real say we have over that process is through our choices: physical activity, food quality and quantity, and self-care, which includes everything from sleep to basic hygiene to medical attention.
And not only do people tend to thicken as they age, but they also respond differently to efforts to lose weight. Some bodies respond quickly, some take longer, some hang onto weight like Rose on a scrap of Titanic no matter how hard you work them.
People who witness their partners attending to these variables, and find only fault with the results, prove themselves unworthy of their partners’ efforts.
Have you talked to your husband openly about the way his criticism hurts you? Has he not seen for himself that your habits are good?
Obviously it would be a lot better for both of you if you both recognized that the care you’re taking will pay off for you in the only way that matters: on the inside. I don’t just mean in your healthy lab results, but also in your emotional equilibrium, your sense of self-worth, your strength and flexibility and, if you keep this up throughout your lifetime, your chances of remaining mobile into old age.
Too often people assign blame here (5! pounds!), and are quick to see weight gains as a personal failing. Assuming a conversation alone won’t open his eyes, you or he or both might benefit from a bit of professional intervention — doctor, trainer, nutritionist, marriage counselor, depending on the nature and size of the empathy gaps.
If he can’t see your worth, though, then that’s his blindness; don’t let it also be yours.
Re: Can’t lose weight: On top of Carolyn’s great advice, I would also add: Consider going to therapy. If an eating disorder even remotely seems “worth it,” that is a truly serious sign.
If you’re perimenopausal, this might be the new you, which I implore you to embrace. I applaud that you are eating healthily and exercising, and I hope you are getting more fit, because that just always feels wonderful. But as you yourself point out, weight does not equal poor health. You are wonderfully healthy. Enjoy that! And I beg you to find a way to rock your new curves instead of fighting them.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 10 a.m. each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.