Dangerous Complacency

I have been on the hubs to drop some weight for what seems like forever.

Since I've known him, he hasn't ever been trim. He's told me he was a chubby kid, but in photos of him as a boy, he looks pretty healthy. We started dating in 1997, and he was overweight then. Not dangerously so, but, like many people, he was carrying around some extra weight.

Several years into our relationship, and again after we were married (our ninth wedding anniversary was on Wednesday), he began to gain the so-called "love chub," which I recently wrote about on my health and wellness blog. I was not immune from packing on the pounds. I gained weight after we were married too.
He has done the South Beach Diet several times, with pretty incredible results. At one point, he lost over 50 pounds. It was really, really hard for him, but he stuck with it and it delivered results. I was so proud of him.

He has gained it all back, though. And despite my suggestions that he give it another try, or go to the gym more often, or lay off the unhealthy food choices, nothing is working at this point. He just doesn't want to lose weight. I want him around to see our children grow up (because God knows I can't handle the Triple Threat on my own). I want to see him have more energy and to be more active. This isn't about physical appearance. It's about life and death.

But he doesn't seem to take it seriously.

I have realized that losing weight is one of those things that you have to want for yourself. No one can make you want it, and while a support system helps, you lose each and every pound on your own. No one loses the weight for you.

When I took up running almost seven years ago, I was at my heaviest weight ever, and I made a conscious choice to change my life. I started eating more healthfully. I started exercising. And the weight came off. It was hard work, but I did it.

I really, really wanted it.

Lots of others don't.

I wrote on this topic on my health and wellness blog yesterday. Almost 27% of the American population is now considered obese, and while there are certainly other factors as to why this is the case, I contend that for a lot of overweight and obese Americans, the desire to change their lives is just not there. They are complacent and unwilling to take charge of their health problems.

And I just do not get it.

If you wouldn't mind, please read my post.

Why do you think so many Americans are unhealthy?

10 Responses to “Dangerous Complacency”

  1. # Anonymous Samantha

    I can't speak for every person out there with a weight issue, but for me it's not totally about motivation. I want to loose weight and at times am very motivated to do it. I want to be around for my children and have more energy too. But, I have lost and gained so many times I lost faith in myself. I get tired of fighting. Tired of fighting my body and of always feeling bad about myself. I have great support systems in my life who love me no matter my size and always support me in my weight loss endeavors, sometimes it is not enough to fight back the feeling that no matter what, I end up in the same place.  

  2. # Blogger Amy R

    I think Rich and Jim might be twins separated at birth. I too, don't get it. I wish I could say something more inspiring than that, but you said it all for me. I've been on him to lose weight for a long time too and it is just as you said, he just doesn't care. So, I laid off of the "I want you to be healthy so we can have a long life together" speech and decided to control what I could...myself and my own weight loss efforts. I took to heart the quote "Be the change you want to see in the world" thinking that maybe, just maybe if I got healthy (which in his eyes is skinny....sigh) he'd be inspired to do the same. Well, here I am, LOTS of pounds lighter than before and yet he hasn't changed his ways. Still eats whatever he wants with no regards to the health implications, still takes no time to exercise. Part of me is sad, part of me is mad. But, then I talk to his mom and she is exactly the same. Loves her fried food, loves to drink and smoke and yet refuses to do anything about her weight, which she loves to complain about. It's such a personal decision to get healthy and you have to want to do it for the right reasons I guess.

    In regards to your question why America is so unhealthy, I think there are so many reasons. The billion dollar diet market that offers quick fixes with no changes to your everyday eating habits, the huge portions and unhealthy offerings at restaurants. A lifestyle that allows us to be more sedintary as we move more of our communications to electronic media and stop interacting with each other face to face The promise of a "magic pill" that will one day "cure" obesity. And a million more reasons.  

  3. # Blogger Andrew

    Have you asked yourself why you allowed yourself to gain weight and do nothing about it til your turnaround several years ago? What let you get fat and complacent? Sure, you eventually got "healthy," but maybe if you can really look back and figure out what happened with yourself, you might just have the beginning of an answer for everyone.

    People gain weight for a lot of reasons, both physical and emotional. Is it a self-soothing method for dealing with stress from job and family? Is it entertainment to stave off boredom? Is it a purely physical issue involving metabolism? Could be any number of reason for many people.

    Nobody's perfect, and unfortunately heavy people carry evidence of their issues with them wherever they go, unlike drinkers, smokers, exercise addicts, and the promiscuous, who are literally looking for love in all the wrong places.

    It's also a fine line between wanting someone to lose weight to improve their health and being a nag, who inadvertently induces guilt and shame while trying to be encouraging. And of course how do you deal with those feelings if you don't have a proper emotional outlet? Yep, you got it.

    And why do people starve themselves to be thin? Why can't they just change? Why can't people just stop drinking? Why can't people just be nicer? Why can't people just be smarter?

    Why can't everyone succeed like we have?  

  4. # Blogger Kristi

    Samantha-I know many people (including my husband) for whom weight is a life-long struggle. And I completely understand your struggle. It's so hard when you lose, then gain, then lose again, and so on. It's demoralizing and depressing. I know for me, staying around my current weight is something I have to work at every day. It does not come easily. Ultimately, it's worth it, but damn. It's sometimes really, really hard.

    Amy, our husbands do have a lot in common, don't they? I want Rich to lose some weight not for me, but for his kids. Yes, I would like to stay married and have him around (most of the time, anyway), but the kids need him to be around too. It's not about weight. It's about health. Diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, etc. are all results of carrying around too much weight. These are not the medical problems of the elderly anymore.

    I want him to want to lose it for them. I want to HELP him lose it for them. And I struggle on a daily basis to understand why he won't.

    Andy-Good point. For me, I think I was a classic class of "love chub." I never really paid attention to what I ate or to exercise prior to getting married. Then I got married, and we spent a LOT of time blowing our dual incomes eating out, and not eating the right things. I gained almost 30 pounds without even realizing it.

    And yes, there are many issues behind weight. Eating for comfort, eating to relieive stress (which I know is a big one for both me and the hubs because, hello, hella stressful lives here). But I just can't sit back and not talk about weight with Rich, or encourage him to make healthier choices. I will admit to nagging at times, out of frustration. I shouldn't do it, and I've since backed off.

    I just really, really want him to be there for the kids in the long-term. My dad had two heart attacks and a quadruple bypass two years ago after decades of smoking, drinking, and eating badly. He almost died. He's diabetic now, as is my grandmother. This scares the shit out of me. I do not want to be a single mother, and sometimes my fear does manifest itself as nagging. It shouldn't, but it does.

    It's not a matter of me wanting him to "succeed like me." It's a matter of me wanting my husband and my kids' father to have more energy, fewer health problems, and a longer lifespan. I know it's not as simple as deciding to "want it." I do, however, wish he wanted it, just a little.  

  5. # Blogger Veronica

    I have a weight issue, which I blog about, but I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to this.

    I have a genuine medical reason for having the weight that I do, I genuinely want to do it, but my weight isn't budging.

    It does get to be very demotivating and frustrating that the scale doesn't go down, despite all the exercise and healthy food that I am eating.

    And I've been doing this for a while!

    I think the issue with losing weight for a lot of people -- minus the medical issues -- is complex:

    1) We don't get enough education on eating healthier

    2) Processed foods are easier to consume than healthy foods

    3) Our society isn't focused on incorporating healthy choices for exercise (and food) in our lives

    4) Food is a cheap pleasure (cheaper than a movie, cheaper than flying off to the Turks and Caicos, cheaper than buying Playstation game)

    5) Habits are hard to change

    I hope for the sake of Rich that he loses weight for his own health and happiness, but I hope you also accept that this is his own path to walk.

    It seems to me that if he did South Beach, but gained the weight back, it's because he wasn't ready to radically change his lifestyle.

    And chances are, he really has to radically change it in order for the weight loss to stick (regardless of what 'diet' he chooses). (The radical change doesn't have to happen overnight, but over the long term, much like your running and your healthy eating!)  

  6. # Blogger Shannon

    I'm too sleepy to write very clearly, but I'll throw this idea out there as one of the many reasons why men seem to be less motivated than women: women are barraged every day by the media barking at them to be thin in order to be pretty. I think women in this country spend an inordinate amount of time thinking and fretting about their physical appearance. Thinking about a "problem" every day will inevitably lead to motivation--shit or get off the pot, so to speak.

    Men in this country don't have this everyday element in their lives. The media assures them that yes, they would be healthier and maybe look good if they lost weight, but it's still okay for them to be overweight, wrinkly, and have grey hair. They're still "interesting." That motivation isn't there for them.

    Okay, I need more coffee. :)  

  7. # Anonymous Anonymous

    It's funny. I don't have a weight problem - never have. My husband is in really great shape - he's built and athletic and looks great. I have 4 kids. I get SO annoyed when people ask me how I am so 'skinny.' I am not skinny. I am very muscular and in incredible physical shape. I work out every day and can lift more than most of the men in the weight room. The way they ask has this tone to it - like assuming that I just don't eat much. In terms of what motivates me - I want to be healthy for sure, but I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that don't work out as much or have an extra 10 pounds on them that are just as healthy. I just can't imagine my husband being overweight or me being overweight and it not negatively influencing our relationship - it's not attractive to either of us. I can't imagine not being able to wear the clothes I like because they don't look good on me. I can't imagine being that mom at my kids' gym class that just sits there b/c I'm too overweight to participate with them. I can't imagine going to my husband's work events and being the overweight woman in the room. It may seem shallow, but it's not. Quite frankly, us in-shape woman get treated pretty badly by a lot of other women. It's ridiculous.  

  8. # Blogger Jesser

    I think there's a lot at play with the issue. For starters, I think it's very hard to live in a world very much geared to anti-health. You are bombarded constantly with the quick, easy, cheap alternatives ... it takes a TON of willpower to overcome it all, especially when you're using your willpower for other things.

    Beyond that, there's the long/short term game at play. Just like with parenting, you have to balance what is easy and convenient NOW for what will really benefit you in the long run. Sometimes it's incredibly hard to see that, let alone act upon it (the willpower thing again).  

  9. # Anonymous Kell

    I used to be fat. Not 30lbs of 'love chub' overweight but obese, fat. I got fat because I was lonely and sad and I hated my job and food tastes good.

    I got thin, it was hard work, I still don't exercise like I should I eat food that isn't good for me and *gasp* I don't feed my kids organic food. I do however educate them in healthy choices and model good behavior, and let us all indulge every so often. I also wish I could still smoke but I have had to let most of my bad habits go.... If only cigarettes and disco fries (a NJ thing) were healthy....

    My mother is morbidly obese, she uses genetics as her excuse. It is that she can hide behind her weight, like "I don;t bother with job interviews, noone hires fat people." In fact another middle aged divorcee once said to me "If I lose the weight, I might have to get back out there and start dating." Weight is an excellent screen.

    To Anon- I think it is all about how you hear the comments. I have never been treated badly for being cute and skinny. (And I am cure :)) Of course I don't spend time saying how fit and trim I am, or putting down fat people because they are unattractive. It isn't shallow to want to not be fat, but it is shallow to think about that 'overweight person at your husband's work functions".

    It sucks to be overweight, I know. I used to bring in fat pictures to show my students, so they can see that you can change. It isn't easy to maintain my weight and sometimes I just want to eat a bag of Doritos and a pint of ice cream. And sometimes I do. I just don't beat myself up for it anymore.

    As for 'the hubs' maybe he is not complacent but afraid of what it means to not be heavy anymore, afraid it will change his relationship with the world.  

  10. # Blogger angela

    As an overweight woman with an overweight husband...we're losing the pounds but slowly here's some practical stuff that helped us:

    Making small changes works. We cut out carbs after 4pm and cut out bread entirely. (it's amazing what a huge amount of stuff goes away with the bread)

    Limit potatoes to two servings a week

    Cut out sugar entirely. It's a death trap.Don't buy into the "treat" thing: once you have one you'll want the lot.

    Prefer whole rice/pasta/couscous to the white sort

    Organise and this was the most important part. Plan meals and buy the food that you will eat and nothing else. That way in a weak moment you can't sabotage your "regime"

    If you like fish eat more of it. Salmon is nice and tuna too.

    Move more. It doesn't have to be the gym just leave the car further away and walk more. It worked for us. And though running's great it does punish your joints especially if you're overweight.

    The good thing is because of their metabolism guys need to make only small changes to see big results and that's good for the morale.

    This eating plan was about changing our attitude to food and was intended as a complete and permanent change in our habits so it's been slow but steady. H. lost 30 kilos. We both feel a lot better. Honestly, diets like The South Beach simply don't work long term.

    Your husband needs make only small changes to make his diet healthier and none of it need be regarded as deprivation.

    We worked together on this and the mutual support and interest has been vital to the success we've had. I can't imagine that your success will be motivating for your husband and your belief that it's all down to will power isn't really helpful. Researchers believe that food is as potent as drugs in relation to the dopamine receptors in the brain and we all have a different amount of those. It's why some people give up smoking easier than others. Food's the same.

    His best bet would be to focus on the healthy choices rather than weight loss and strangely enough the weight loss will happen.

    As to why there's this problem of obesity in America; it'll be a combination of stuff but when I visited I found portion sizes were huge but the quality of food was generally poor. Food was generally bland though there was a lot of it. Then there are the soft drinks...dispensers everywhere and I'd see people carrying those cups of coke etc around.  

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