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My DW and her weight

(89 Posts)
pompodd Fri 19-Dec-14 11:21:28

I'm not really sure what I'm asking here, just looking for some female opinions, I suppose.

My DW and I are mid-30s and have been married for a little over 10 years with 3 DC - 8, 6 and 3. I'd say she has always been a slightly larger lady - she was a size 14/16 when we met. I've always fancied her and love her just the way she is.

But I know she hasn't been happy recently with her weight. The toll of having 3 difficult pregnancies and then being a SAHM since our eldest was born has knocked her self-esteem and she's put quite a lot of weight on - she's now a size 20/22. She's thinking about getting back into the job market and retraining as our youngest will be starting full time school next year. In the meantime she has been doing some volunteering which she enjoys and some writing/blogging.

I have never, in all the time I've known her (getting on for 15 years), passed any negative comment on her weight. As I said above, I love her the way she is, her beautiful (to me) body carried our 3 lovely DC and I've certainly changed too since we first met. But I guess I'm starting to get concerned about what effect this might have on her health and also the fact that she is clearly unhappy with how she looks. She has previously talked before about doing something - regular swimming, or an exercise class, or playing a sport with a couple of girlfriends but it never really comes to anything. She even bought an exercise DVD earlier in the year, used it once and then hasn't again. She also admits that she comfort eats if she's feeling a bit down with the sheer toil and hard work of looking after 3 kids during the week.

I'm just struggling with understanding what's going on in her head. It's obviously a very sensitive subject for her and she gets very upset if I ask her about it - i.e. if you want to do the regular swimming thing just let me know and I'll make sure I'm home that evening to do the kids' bath and bed. I suspect I'm very practical about these things - if something about my appearance bothered me that much, I'd do something about it. She is clearly a different person to me, and her self-esteem issues obviously make it more difficult for her to feel that she can just "do something about it".

Any thoughts? I know this is a bit of a ramble, but if you were in that position, what would you like your DH to do or suggest?

GoldfishSpy Fri 19-Dec-14 11:26:34

I am in her position.

What you are doing sounds great. She will be feeling shit about herself probably. It's so hard to maintain a change in lifestyle - and possibly she has emotional eating issues too.

DH making himself available so that I can swim, go for a walk etc really helps.

Be there, be super supportive of any steps she takes, she needs to be ready.

FelicityGubbins Fri 19-Dec-14 11:30:12

Honestly, in this situation what I would like my DH to do is A, be a sympathetic ear when I whinge about my body..B, reassure me that he loves me and my body exactly as it is..C, do nothing apart from A and B, no one can do anything about someone else's body. I would feel bullied and upset if my DH got me a gym membership/diet video etc.

Joysmum Fri 19-Dec-14 11:30:31

I'm the same.

All I can say is it's not so much about exercise and diets, but why eating too many calories is more pressing than considering her health and finding life easier by being smaller.

To my mind, most of us know what we need to do so the question is, why can't we consistently do it? Diets and exercise aren't the answer in my experience.

CogitOIOIO Fri 19-Dec-14 11:32:40

It's a little frustrating but the initiative has to come from your DW. She knows she's fat and she's obviously not happy about it but there are obstacles in her mind that are preventing her from doing anything. Not least the low self-esteem that being overweight can result in. Sometimes it's the numbers that are daunting.

Personally, I know I need more exercise so I'd like a partner to not simply offer to babysit while I went to the gym but to maybe come with me.... or just go for a walk together. More fun with a friend. You're going to have to wait until she comes up with some kind of idea and then support it in a practical way that makes it more likely to happen than be a flash in the pan.

Good luck

Jackiebrambles Fri 19-Dec-14 11:32:43

I agree with Felicity. She needs to do this for herself and be reassured that you love her.

Also, an occasional swim or dvd, whilst great, is NOT going to make a big difference to her weight. It's all about the calories that are going in.

What are your family meals like? Perhaps you can suggest some new year healthy eating changes for you all?

pompodd Fri 19-Dec-14 11:51:13

Thanks everyone.

Jackie - I suppose we could make more effort on family meals. When we're both so busy it's easy to lapse into takeaways/processed food.

Joysmum - interesting. When you say that diets and exercise aren't the answer, what do you mean? For what it's worth, my DW has never been a dieter (which I think is a good thing. I had a number of girlfriends before I met her who were obsessed with what they ate and calories and it just took all the pleasure out of going out and eating).

So no-one thinks it would be a good idea if, say in the New Year, I were to pick a good moment and say "You know I love you as you are, and fancy the pants off you, but I know you aren't happy with how you look at the moment so do you like the idea of us maybe doing something together regularly that we'd both enjoy - a sport, perhaps, and maybe we could look at our meal planning again?"

GingerbreadPudding Fri 19-Dec-14 11:53:36

I'd start with what you eat since you can't coerce her into exercising. Have you got any weight to lose yourself? If you have it makes it a bit easier and the impetus can come from you thinking you want to get a bit more healthy.

I found the 'myfitnesspal' app amazing when I wanted to lose weight. You enter your height and weight, your ideal weight and the time you want to take to get there and it tells you how many calories a day you can eat. I religiously entered what I ate - it has neatly every food you could think of on its system - and kept a track of my weight loss. I had a day a week where I ate what I liked and quickly got used to what portion size was 'ok' to eat and what foods were higher/lower calories. The weight came off fairly quickly and I found it really motivating.

I'm a bit of a data nerd so this appealed to me. I'll use it again when I've had my baby and want to lose the baby weight. I hate exercising for the sake of it but I do love walking, especially with my dogs, so maybe that's an exercise that's not as forced as 'going to the gym.'

wallypops Fri 19-Dec-14 11:55:43

I no longer have time to do any sport and have remained unhealthily heavy (in my view) for a while. The only exercise I can do, where everyone can participate, is long walks. Your kids are now old enough to do up to an hours walk pretty easily - even your three your old. It's not enough, but everyone benefits. Would she be up for a couple of long walks over weekends. When the evenings draw out a bit would it be possible to get home in time for you all to do that occasionally. Or borrow a dog that needs walking on a daily basis.

Quitelikely Fri 19-Dec-14 11:57:47

OP are you one if those men who like to eat rubbish fatty food yourself? Hmmm it can be hard for the wife to eat healthy when her dh likes takeaways and the like.

How about discussing the fact you have decided to eat more healthy and ask if you can make a team effort.

I wouldn't actually like it if my partner increased in size as yours had done.

supernaut Fri 19-Dec-14 11:58:23

Some people need a kick up the bum to get them out exercising, but I don't recommend it because if that isn't what she needs it will come across as you aren't happy and are pressuring her.
To be honest there's not much you can do.
Diet and exercise need to be balanced.
Junk like pizza/cakes/processed stuff can be ok if you are exercising and burning them off but if you aren't you should steer clear of them.
The best solution is a bit of both - diet control and exercise.
You can't force her though.

Jackiebrambles Fri 19-Dec-14 11:58:46

Its so easy I think to snack on the kids leftovers, especially when home with them all day. My diet has much improved after going back to work where I can be more controlled.

I second the myfitnesspal app, its brilliant for giving you the truth about what goes in!

FelicityGubbins Fri 19-Dec-14 11:59:19

I personally wouldn't like my DH to sit me down and say "let's pick a sport and diet plan we can both do" it sounds controlling and passively insulting to my way of thinking.
If my DH came home and said that his new years resolution was to make dinner 3 nights a week I would be delighted, and if they were low calorie but filling meals then it would be an added bonus wink

zippyandbungle Fri 19-Dec-14 12:01:19

Yes to the meal planning? Do you cook, is it something you can do together after DCs are asleep. Plan your meals. Do a shopping list and batch cook to freeze when you have time. Food and diet are the main culprits of weight gain, excercise can come later but get your diets sorted first for health reasons if nothing else.

WillkommenBienvenue Fri 19-Dec-14 12:02:22

What a lovely man you are to be so considerate of your partner's wellbeing smile

You said she got upset when you mentioned going swimming - can you really think that through and work out why? Was it really a feasible option for her - would you have had childcare?

pompodd Fri 19-Dec-14 12:04:02

Ginger - I don't really have any weight to lose, I've always been skinny. Though I do play sport once a week so could do with being a bit fitter for that.

My concern with the calorie app is that my DW isn't really a data nerd and if, for whatever reason, she has a bad couple of days and can't meet the targets that the app has set for her it might be that her already low self-esteem takes another hit.

DialsMavis Fri 19-Dec-14 12:07:17

I think you sound lovely & exactly how my DP was when I was fat. I don't think what you are proposing sounds upsetting as long as you back off if your DW is too defensive when you say it

CogitOIOIO Fri 19-Dec-14 12:10:38

I think you can say - with love - that you are worried about someone's health and want them to know that you would like to support them. What you can't do is impose a diet and exercise programme on someone from above. However, you can try to make the environment easier for the whole family to be healthy in.... that's legitimate.

DS (who is as skinny as a rake) and I decided that there were a few too many biscuits arriving with each grocery delivery and we were going to replace them with fruit. So he now snacks on bananas when he gets peckish and I'm no longer reaching for the custard creams with my coffee. Win-win.

MaryWestmacott Fri 19-Dec-14 12:12:24

I really don't think you should suggest she diets or improves her health. No matter how nicely you say it, you'll sound like you are calling her a heffer. There's no nice way to tell someone to diet. There just isn't.

However, you can try to kick the processed food and takeaway habit, and that can be wrapped up in language that's nothing to do with her size. Cutting out takeaways can be cutting back on spending. Meal planning can be to reduce waste food and expenditure post Christmas. Cooking new meals yourself could be you wanting to experiment with food a bit more....

Meal planning with a weekly internet shop could be you trying to take some jobs off her 'to do' list and you do an internet food shop from work to make her life easier (get the delivery for when you are home!).

Arrange fun days out with the DCs that involve both of you, visiting local woods/National trust properites, all going swimming etc.

If you are naturally thin, it can be hard to see that your lifestyle is also unhealthy, if you are eatinga lot of crap foods, even if you are maintaining a slim body, it's not healthy. you both might well benefit from a sneaky health kick.

Joysmum Fri 19-Dec-14 12:12:49

Well, most of us are intelligent women. We KNOW what a healthy diet and lifestyle is.

I've no doubt that for those a little overweight, maybe the weight crept on as they took their eye off the ball.

For many others though, despite knowing what we need to do we can't consistently do it. Eating too much is more important than doing what we need to.

So for people whom diets and a touch of exercise 5 times a week doesnt work for, there's something else going on. There has to be because we all know logically that being in the best health lowers our risks of disease and takes away practical issues that carrying to much weight brings with it.

It won't be the same reasons for everyone and until we all work what the issue is, want to challenge the behaviour and put alternatives in place, diets will only be a short term solution.

I'm part way there. I've identified and changed some things but my big issue hasn't been fully dealt with so I'll continue to yoyo to extremes using diets and exercise until I have sorted my issues out.

DoesntLeftoverTurkeySoupDragOn Fri 19-Dec-14 12:13:52

you can try to make the environment easier for the whole family to be healthy in.

I think this is the way to approach it. Don't point the finger at her, don't mention her even to say how you love her as she is (the implication is that there is an issue!) just plan to make the whole family healthier and more active.

pompodd Fri 19-Dec-14 12:14:28

Thanks for all the responses, they are really helpful.

Wilkommen - she didn't get upset about the swimming suggestion per se, it was more one evening when it all came out and she said that she felt like a fat frump and useless. After trying to reassure her I then (perhaps ill-advisedly!) suggested the regular swimming which she'd mentioned before.

zippy - I love cooking and used to do most of it at home. The difficulty is that my job means I'm rarely home before 7pm (and often much later) so the last thing I want to do is start cooking. I'm sure she doesn't want to either! The batch cooking at weekends is a good idea, though. I did that in anticipation of the arrival of our 3 DCs so we had a freezer full of stuff that could just be defrosted and warmed up when we were both too knackered to cook properly.

PomeralLights Fri 19-Dec-14 12:18:35

OK, I'm probably going to get flamed for this but one word springs to mind... Sex.

You say you still fancy her so how often do you two dtd? Make an effort to be romantic and make time to seduce her. Sex releases endorphins which make you feel more attractive and make you more inclined to do exercise - gets you into that positive cycle. If she's a lights off lady try and convince her to have the lights on because you love her body.

Honestly whenever I get in a rut of being knackered, cooking not-really-healthy-enough food, down about putting on some weight recently etc, I'm like that for a while and then we find time for some quality time between the sheets and it really reinvigorates!! And then I remember how great it is to feel attractive and make more effort (for me/ my self esteem) because DH has made me comfortable in my skin again...if that makes sense.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 19-Dec-14 12:19:12

I think you should sit down with her and ask if there's something she'd like to do either for herself or with you, now that the children are out of infancy.
Either something she used to do before she was a mother, or something else she fancies doing. Don't mention weight or health at all - just doing something that makes her feel like her rather than just mum would probably help her feel better about herself. If it's something active great, but even if it isn't it could help get her out of the rut she's in.

And then if she does like the sound of that, enable her to do it.

Calorie apps certainly aren't for everyone - I can't be doing with them at all. If you think they wouldn't suit your DW I really wouldn't mention that.

CogitOIOIO Fri 19-Dec-14 12:19:12

"After trying to reassure her I then (perhaps ill-advisedly!) suggested the regular swimming which she'd mentioned before."

Ah..... you went for the 'solution' option. I do this. Someone says 'Oh dear, I'm so fat' and I leap straight to the 'lets find a solution for your fatness'. What they are really saying is 'I feel unattractive and I want you to listen and offer comfort'.....

You have to wait for the moment when she says 'I've decided to go swimming' (or whatever) and then facilitate the swimming specifically in the way she has decided to do it. i.e. Don't point out there's a 20 mile swimathon to aim for in July. Support the initiative 100% as presented.

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