Sunday, January 13, 2013

The perils of self-delusion

Paula Deen's Buffet in Savannah, Georgia

A lot of us try to figure out where, exactly, all this weight came from. How we got so big. When it happened that we accepted being fat. How do we not see what we're doing to our selves?

My theory is that you DO see... you just don't want to acknowledge it. Even when directly confronted with it, you aren't ready to accept it, yet.

I can use my own husband as an example of this. He has been in denial about his weight gain for quite some time now. He still tells people his sizes are "large" and "34 waist" even though he hasn't been either for years, and wears ill-fitting pants that look terrible on him.  He's between a 36 and a 38... probably bearing down on 38, though his belly is far larger. IF I had to guess, he's probably easily 46 around his belly button.

When asked how much he weighs by someone the other day, he said "185" - when I'm almost 50 pounds lighter than he is at 190, and I know this because he was just weighed a couple of weeks ago at 235 by the doctor - which I was present for. He honestly heard 185, because that's what he wanted to hear.

He says his large gut is because of bloating (because he has a medical condition that can and has caused bloating in the past, but it's always gone down after a few days... this has been persistent for over a YEAR. It's fat, hun.).

He says his butt hangs out of his pants because they shrink in the dryer.

He's finally starting to have to admit that there's a problem, though. It's gotten badly enough that his too-small pants are rubbing open sores on his stomach scar, that his belly is hanging out of his too-small shirts. He said earlier today that he's going to have to start buying XL shirts. He missed the XL boat 20 lbs ago. He's a 2X or I'll eat my hat.

I love him, but he's very self-deluded right now. He knows I'm very health conscious, and count calories, and I've made a lot of progress, but he's not willing to trade in his plates of fried food and refusal to eat regular vegetables yet, nor start exercising. When he's ready, I'll be there with him, but until he's ready, it won't happen.

It's so difficult when I'm struggling to stay on board this train, and he's refusing to acknowledge he needs to be on it at all. If we could do this together, we could help each other so much. Instead of fixing his favorite high-calorie low-nutrient meals, we could make healthy things together. I've gotten him to eat a little healthier, by subbing salads for baked potatoes now and again, or always making veggies when I cook, but since he's the primary cook, it's always fried pork chops, steaks and taters, french fries, and macaroni and cheese. He's always downing sodas... at least 2-3 per day.

It doesn't help when he sabotages me. It's not on purpose, ever, but my willpower is very shaky these days. I just can't always say no when he presents me with my favorite foods, like Velveeta shells and cheese (360 calories a cup... and that's not even considering the sodium overdose.) He'll surprise me with treats. He bought a bag of powdered donuts "for the kids" and when I asked him what they were for, he said "breakfast."

Really? We have two young children, one of whom is confirmed ADHD, and you're feeding them powdered sugar for breakfast?

It's not that he wants me to fail (not consciously, at least) but he genuinely has no idea how what he brings into this house affects me. I can even see the difference on those rare occasions we go to the buffet. his plate is always BROWN, and I always load mine and the girls' up with colorful veggies. The problem is when he fixes one of their plates, it's just as brown as his. It doesn't help that we live in the south, home to fried chicken, fried fish, french fries, and vegetables so drowned in fats and meats that whatever healthy might have been in them is long gone.

It's an uphill battle that I'm fighting by myself. I can't make him join me until he's ready. If he can't even accept his own weight when he sees it on the scale himself and is told by a nurse, how can I expect him to do it at home?  So I struggle within the bounds I'm given, and hope and pray that he'll eventually join me. I ask him to join me on walks, I talk about my calorie range and hand him celery any time I'm nomming a veggie tray. He knows, he's just not ready to join me.

I can't make him see, all I can hope is that he'll see the way I did. And when he's ready, I'll be there to celebrate with him and hold his hand through the process.

Photo courtesy of John Hyun


  1. Just the other day, I hugged my fiance. I looked down and said, "Hun... Our chests don't touch anymore - our bellies are in the way." I'm working on it, but he's a bit like your husband. Granted, he'll eat anything I feed him, so food isn't really a problem... but he absolutely will not exercise. He said he exercises enough at work (He does walk at least 13,000 steps a day at work), but he's not losing, so his "exercise" just isn't enough.

    But like you said, he'll be ready when he's ready.

  2. My husband was the same way. You know what worked for him? Take unflattering pictures of him. Just random pictures throughout the day.

    Then show him. Make sure to get a good side view of his belly that hangs out from under his shirt.

    I'm proud of you for focusing on yourself and trying to teach your girls that there are other choices. It is so unbelievably hard when your partner isn't on board. Or worse yet, lovingly "sabotages" you. (Mine packed my lunch bag with all of my favorite candies. ALL OF THEM! How are you going to get mad at that?


    Just keep doing what you're doing. He'll catch on (hopefully).