I am Not Defined By My Weight - Part VI Marriage
This piece is Part 6 of a 9 Part Series called I Am Not Defined By My Weight, inspired by Rachel Hollis' book "Girl, wash your face".
Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have, and as I previously mentioned, mine was not the best. It was my mentality regarding weight that influenced my self-worth. I did not love who I was, and because I did not love myself, I could not accept my husbands love either (not in a real sense anyway). My negative self-worth created challenges in the beginning of my relationship and eventually reared it's ugly head after I had my daughter.
In the Beginning
My weight-loss journey started during my college years when I was required to lose weight to join/serve in the Air Force. When most people were gaining their freshman 15, I was losing it, plus more! I had about 25 – 30 lbs to lose to wear the uniform and it took me about a year to lose it.
Unfortunately, losing the weight did not solve the more significant issue at hand—emotional eating and food addiction. I rode the weight-loss train all throughout college, through my first duty assignment, up to current day (1.5 years postpartum).
In the beginning, I would do almost anything to lose the weight.
Severely restrict calories…
Sweat it out in the sauna for hours on end…
Spend hours on cardio machines…
I'd even binge and purge every once in a while...
The sauna and elliptical were not long-term solutions to my weight loss, and so, I would quickly gain back any weight I lost.
All it took was a stressful event, heartbreak, or a random craving that would send me over the edge into a binge fest of all foods unhealthy.
When He Becomes Your Motivation
When my husband and I first started dating, I finally found the motivation to lose the weight and keep it off (or at least I tried). My boyfriend was 30 lbs lighter than I was and I hated it! I started learning about clean eating, strength training, and how moderation was vital to keeping my weight in check. A year and a half into our relationship, we got engaged.
This put a deadline for when I needed to reach that magical weight.
I signed up for a myfitnesspal account and started tracking my weight and calories. For the next 14 months, my weight would decline with a few small increases here and there.
Then, on February 21, 2015, 12 days before our wedding, I weighed in at my lowest ever—168 lbs. I was only slightly heavier than my future hubby and figured it was adequate enough for us have a “happily-ever-after" kind of marriage.
During this time period, I believed his love for me was conditional. I thought the key to a happy (and sexy) marriage was to be similar in weight.
Then, six months into our marriage, I went through a really rough season at work. I was thrust into a toxic work environment in which I had very little time to take care of myself.
I started eating my emotions and gained 15 lbs in 3 months, damaging all progress I had made.
I felt unworthy of my husband's love and ashamed of my body.
How could I ever be intimate with him when I despised every single part of me?
Soon after, the Air Force gave my husband and me orders that would send us overseas to live as husband and wife, for the first time ever.
Finally Together as Husband and Wife
Up until this point, we hadn’t lived together, so I “controlled” what food was kept in my house, and what I eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was a whole new ball game to take into consideration another person's food preferences when it came to preparing meals.
My husband loves carbs, processed foods, and sugar-laden breakfast items. I, also, enjoy all those things but have no form of self-control to keep myself from eating everything in sight.
In the first few years of our relationship, he didn't understand the addictive feeling I had when I would see a dozen donuts sitting on the counter, or a bag of Salt and Vinegar chips in the cupboard. It was easy for him to have a portion and put the rest away for later, whereas I could not stop eating once I started.
If we had donuts left in the house, all I could think about were those donuts. It was an obsession. As if those were the last donuts on the planet and I needed to have them right then and there. If there was an open bag of Salt and Vinegar chips, you can bet I would demolish them in one sitting.
So when we started living together, deciding what foods to keep in the house was a huge challenge.
Marriage is not a dictatorship. I did not have full authority to decide what foods we kept in the house and neither did my husband.
Should I stop buying the unhealthy foods and make my husband suffer? Or do I suck it up and force myself to have self-control?
I didn’t think it’s was fair to make him suffer because I couldn’t control myself, but it also wasn’t fair for him to keep my kryptonite around and force me to lean on my own strength.
Initially, I catered to his needs and forced myself to develop self-control, and that FAILED miserably.
You guys, at certain points, I started sneaking food while he wasn’t around because I didn’t want him to judge me. In reality, I was projecting my emotions onto him.
Did he want me to binge on all those bad foods—no! But he didn’t love me any less if I did.
I was the only one judging myself, but instead of admitting that, I convinced myself that he was the one I should be hiding from.
I started having breakdowns of feeling like such a failure. I would focus on the fact that I neededto lose 50+ lbs and the gravity of that number just wore me down.
I felt like I was drowning.
I started to believe I would never lose the weight.
I would never be smaller than my husband.
I would never be happy, and if I was never happy, couldmy marriage succeed?
My poor husband was dealing with a woman with polarized self-esteem (aka E^3). One minute, I was motivated to lose the weight and would make progress, and then the next minute, I would slip up and suddenly start sabotaging everything I had achieved.
And he couldn’t say a thing. If he opened his mouth, I would take it as a personal attack.
I wouldn’t let him be my cheerleader, because every time he tried to encourage me, all I could hear was the enemy telling me my husband did not think I was beautiful.
The enemy was out to get our marriage.
He wanted me to believe that our marriage was dependent on the number on the scale, and if that number were too high, my husband would leave me.
Love is Patient
My husband was/is exceptionally patient with me. He has seen me at my heaviest and at my lightest. He has learned how to bring me back to earth when I find myself in the pits of no hope. He has had to be open and honest about how my actions/self-worth affect our marriage and has had to deal with the unfortunate consequences of telling me the truth.
He has reminded me time and time again, that his love is not conditional. He loves me regardless of the number on the scale. He has also reminded me that he wants a healthy wife, a wife who, God-willing, is able to live a long and happy life.
Every day has been a struggle to learn how to love myself. Every day has been a reminder that I cannot do this alone. I am reminded that in my weakness I am strong and God uses these opportunities to mold me into the woman He wants me to become.
I have learned that my husband is not my savior, God is, and the only way I can ever hope to achieve a happy and healthy life/marriage is to lean on the one who created it.
Practical Ways to Help You Find Balance
>> Compromise – Find ways to compromise on what foods to allow in your house and what foods to not allow. I learned that I had self-control with specific items. Instead of telling my husband no chips in the house, I asked him to buy only the kinds I knew I was indifferent about. Instead of purchasing Salt and Vinegar chips every time, we would just buy it once every few months.
>> Out of sight, out of mind – Like I said earlier, my husband loves donuts. So now, the few times he buys them, I asked him to place them in the microwave. This way they arent in my face, forcing myself to practice self-control every time I walk into the kitchen.
>> Maintain open and honest communication – My husband tried to motivate me, but he didn't understand why I couldn't accept his advice. Any time he tried to help, it just made me more upset. Sometimes the only people we are open to receiving advice from are people who have walked in our shoes. It took me awhile to explain that to my husband, but when I finally let him know, he knew how to communicate with me.
>> Admit you are weak – the hardest part of this journey was admitting that I am weak and cannot do it alone. I needed accountability partners. I needed God. It is because of my weakness that I have seen God work in my life, so I rejoice in my struggles because here is where I have found my savior.