“I’m only down one pound today,” my husband calls from the bathroom.
It’s 7:00 in the morning and I’m still too tired from a long night with the baby to think through how ridiculous it is to be disappointed about losing that much weight since the day before. I’m mostly just trying to ignore him, because the topic of his weight loss makes me cringe.
My husband has lost close to 40 pounds over the past three months since starting a weight loss challenge online. He diets and goes to the gym an average of three times per week. He’s incredibly focused and motivated, and when the weight loss challenge ends next week, he’s a shoe-in for first place.
I sneak a sideways glance as he walks out into the bedroom in his too-loose gym shorts, and frown. He looks good. Actually, he looks great. He’s slim but muscular, and the new definition in his arms and chest and legs somehow makes him look even taller than his 6 feet 2 inches. He’s got some adorable grey hairs peppering his beard, which I know he hates, but I think it just makes him more attractive. My frown deepens as he heads downstairs to pour his carefully measured cereal and skim milk. He looks really good.
I want to be happy for him. I’m proud of what he’s done, even if it has seemed annoyingly easy for him compared to how hard I have to fight to get off a single stubborn ounce. He’s healthy and confident, his clothes fit great, he has more energy and he’s set to win almost $400 at the end of his weight loss challenge. So why am I so miserable about him losing weight?
I met my husband almost 10 years ago when we were both in our 20s. I'd had two kids already, but I was in good physical shape. He was always a big bear type of guy -- tall and soft, but not fat. His friends told him I was cute, and I could tell he felt proud to be with me. We got married three years after we met.
Fast forward 10 years.
Today I'm about 25 pounds overweight after having two more kids. My body wears motherhood on every inch, from my tired eyes, to my doughy middle, to my half-painted toenails. My husband and I are a great team, sharing all of the housework and parenting responsibilities. He loves my cooking and appreciates that I oversee all the little details of our family life.
I appreciate that he does the dishes and the laundry, my two least favorite chores. He admires how career-driven I am, working a high-stress job to provide a very comfortable life for our family. I admire the way he treats my older boys like they’re his own. We have the same sense of humor and the same goals and dreams in life. In every way, we are a perfect fit.
At least we were before he was thin.
I'm suddenly embarrassed to be seen out with my husband. I don't want people to see pictures of me on Facebook. I agonize over the dress I’ll wear at his friend’s wedding, weighing every flaw in my body against the slim lines of his suit.
In my mind, I’m sure I know what people are thinking when they see us together. How did she get a guy like that? He could do so much better. She must have been pretty when she was younger and she just let herself go.
Today I finally recognized that over the past three months, everything I valued about myself slowly faded away along with my husband’s waistline. The thinner he got, the worse I felt about myself. My career didn’t matter, my personality didn’t matter, the life we built together didn’t matter because now I was fat and he was thin.
I wasn’t good enough for him anymore, according to the voice inside my head. Thinking that through clearly and objectively was one of the most eye opening moments I’ve ever experienced, because wow, how stupid is that? No wonder I’ve been so miserable.
Nothing about me has changed since we met and fell in love. I am still the same person. Maybe even a better person. We’re still the same couple. Maybe even a more compatible and loving couple since we’ve been working at this relationship for 10 years.
The only thing that has changed is the size of our bodies, and the tailspin that sent me into, all within my own mind, was unbelievably self destructive.
The idea that a fit, attractive man does not belong with a lumpy, tired, wrinkled woman –- the lumpy, tired, wrinkled woman he loves –- is depressing and wrong. Unfortunately, it’s also a common opinion.
Our culture perpetuates this notion so thoroughly, that it’s almost instinctual to see a bigger woman with a fit man and view it as an anomaly. To analyze why they might be together, and what he might see in her. There are few instances of movie or TV relationships with the dynamic set this way, though the opposite can be found in abundance.
I’m glad I took the time to think through why I haven’t been my husband’s biggest cheerleader through his weight loss journey. Acknowledging my habit of judging my self-worth by my physical appearance was enough to snap me back into reality, just in time to be truly happy for my husband as he heads into the final week of his weight-loss challenge having accomplished an amazing physical feat, and looking sexier than ever!
My identity is more than my pants size. My husband loves me for who I am, not for how I look in a little black dress. We both may change over the years on the outside, but I hope that moving forward, I never forget again that what we both value most about each other is on the inside.