I met my husband’s parents at our small wedding 35 years ago. Prior to that day the only knowledge they had of me was the description Champ had given them. He said that I had short hair, wore red glasses and was “slightly overweight”.
You can imagine my distress at hearing this just before meeting my future in-laws. “My God,” I shrieked, “they’re going to think you’re marrying a fat person and that you’re softening the blow by warning them beforehand!” Of all my attributes (of which, good and bad, there are many), why else would he have mentioned that I was overweight?
At the time I weighed approximately 15 pounds more than I do now. (I had been heavier when I was younger but had dieted myself down to marriageable weight.) In other words, you wouldn’t have passed me on the street and remarked to your companion, “Whoa, did you get a load of her butt?”
Fast forward 35 years. We are still married, and as I said, I weigh less now than I did then. (Actually, I weigh less than I did in 8th grade.) I don’t think Champ has gained even a pound in all these years either.
This is in direct contrast to findings of a 10-year Australian study of married couples. While there are many positive attributes to marriage, one of the downsides is that married women tend to gain more weight over the years than unmarried ones. Married women who have children gain even more weight.
Researchers think that one of the reasons may lie in a more active social life in which couples eat out more often. Restaurant serving sizes are the same for both men and women, even though women are smaller and weigh less. When eating at home, women tend to rationalize the larger portions eaten by their mates as suitable for them as well. Although the study showed that all women gain weight over time, single women gained the fewest pounds.
This should come as a warning to those of us who cohabitate. The simple truth is this: women are not men. We cannot eat as much as they can. We also have to exercise more to keep the excess pounds off, especially as we age.
To stem the tide of age-related weight gain, I’ve made constant efforts to control portions and leave behind the processed foods I devoured in my younger years. I cook most of our meals at home, loading up on fresh vegetables and lean protein and ditching junk food from the premises. When we do go out, I often share entrees with Champ, bearing in mind that he gets more than me because he’s bigger than I am. Damn, the truth hurts.
But most of all, I’ve changed my mindset: I don’t have to eat this way in order to maintain my weight, I want to eat this way. I want to have a strong body and mind. Eating Weight Watcher-inspired meals is akin to eating a Mediterranean diet. It’s healthy, it’s delicious, it’ll help me maintain my weight and…bonus!…it’ll help me remember where my car is parked in 20 years.
By the way, after 35 years I still have short hair and red glasses, but Champ doesn’t call me “slightly overweight” anymore. He’s a smart man — he knows that if he does it will be the last thing he ever says.