I read on the forum for this site that many fit spouses who are married to those that have become morbidly obese are, in addition to being angry and saddened by this, simply perplexed as to *how* it could happen. How can someone that used to be fit, or relatively so, let themselves go to the point that they are now a blob of soft, expansive flesh that is barely recognizable as the person they were before? I of course cannot address how every person who is obese makes this transition, but I can tell my story in hopes that it will possibly give some insights as to how the process might occur with other fat spouses.
I started out life on the heavy of normal according to most height/weight charts. During high school I weighed around 140 pounds, standing at 5'4. Looking back now I know that this wasn't horrible, but at the time I felt like I was huge. I was teased from time to time about my weight. I could see rolls of fat on my belly when I sat down. I would try various diets, do okay on them for a week or so, then have a voracity driven binge that would end the attempt. At a fairly young age I accepted that I was fat, and there wasn't much that I could do about it.
After I got out of high school and went about my life, my weight was fairly stable. I got married, I went to work, I went to college. I wasn't being teased about my weight like when I was the public education system. Happily married, with lots of friends, I was able to bury deep the sting of remarks about my size.
During this time, I didn't know how to drive. I had wanted to learn as a teen agar, of course, but my father was always much too busy to sit with me in the car when I had my learners permit, and I was too nervous to ask fellow classmates for help. Plus, I didn't really need to drive. I lived in a large city in California. There was a good public transit system, and also I could ride my ten-speed year round to most of the places I had to go. This held true after I got married as well. My husband and I were fairly poor, and getting a car wasn't a high fiscal priority.
All that changed when I took a job that was a two hour bus ride away, but only 30 minutes by car. I decided it was worth the effort to get my license and buy a car. I didn't really think about it at the time, but it was shortly after that I put my bicycle away, for good. I no longer spent a couple hours a day or more riding about town, I just hopped in the car and went. It saved time, of course, but I didn't change the way I was eating. I started putting on weight.
It took a while for this to really register with me. After all, as far as I was concerned, I was always fat. There were moments of clarity that I was getting bigger than I ever had been before; my clothes started getting much tighter. I had to buy new ones anyway because I now had an office job and had to look professional. It was surprisingly easy to ditch the old ones and get newer, larger sized without confronting myself on the fact that I was sliding downhill fast.
By the time I was in my mid thirties, I estimate I was around 240. I'm not sure because I never, ever weighed myself, and I was pretty good at avoiding having my picture taken as well. I do know that when I finally decided to take control of my body again at the age of 40, I weighed in at 258. Given that I'm fairly short, this meant I was class 3 morbidly obese, and overweight by approximately 120 pounds, with a BMI of 44.3. I was a very, very fat spouse.
All this is very good and well, but it raises the obvious question: what the hell was going on in my head that I let myself get like that? I believe it was a combination of things.
I already believed that I was fat. I believed that there was nothing I could do about it. After all, every time I had tried I had failed, and ended up getting fatter than before. I looked at the fact that my father is also obese, had never lost a pound for good either, and decided the cards were simply stacked against me.
I also was pretty deep in denial about how fat I actually was. As I said, I never really weighed myself. When I was forced to confront the facts when I ended up having to shop for 3X clothes, I felt on some level that there was some sort of mistake, that the salesperson would steer me away from the plus size section over to the normal side. I would look at other fat women, and say things to myself like "She's way fatter than me!" as if this somehow made a difference in my situation.
Then there was the issue that I simply liked my lifestyle. I liked eating fast food. I love chocolate and fried chicken and potato chips. I never really like exercising just for its own sake. I liked spending my free time surfing the Internet or playing computer games. I like watching TV. I didn't consider myself to be exceptionally lazy; I just didn't like doing activities that got me moving around instead of sitting around.
I was also becoming increasingly depressed about my weight. Denial can only go so far, and hopelessness was taking its toll. I absolutely hated being fat. I hated how I felt, how I looked. I hated that I no longer turned any man's head when I walked by. I hated that my husband seemed increasingly reluctant to touch my body. I was deeply ashamed of myself. Reaching for a bag of fatty or sugary empty calories was a way to make myself feel better, if only for the time I was shoving the useless calories down my throat.
None of this excuses the fact that I got very, very fat. I believe that the reality is that being very fat is at its heart a lifestyle choice. I'm just relating how, for a significant part of my life, this seemed like a reasonable and unavoidable choice to me.I'm Tealeaf, and I approve of this message.