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When couples first get married they can’t keep their hands off of each other but over the years the desire seems to fade.  It becomes even less likely that a couple engages in sex when one or both of them is overweight.  In a survey of over 1,000 men and women, more than half of the obese individuals reported problems with sexual enjoyment, desire, and/or performance, compared with only 5 % of their normal-weight counterparts.  While there is a biological component that links obesity to a diminished sex drive, for the most part it’s all in your head.

Odds are that on any given day your partner will see you in some level of undress.  Nobody wants to strut their stuff when they feel like they’re carrying around excess weight. While it’s understandable that you feel self-conscious of your burgeoning belly and want to avoid being naked, there’s no one better to be vulnerable with than your loved one. 

Sex is an important part of a marriage as it creates intimacy and brings passion to a relationship.  Do not be so selfish as to withhold sex simply because you are self-conscious.  Engage in sex with your partner not because you have to but because you love your spouse and you want to.  Get out of your head and make an effort to bring pleasure to your spouse and yourself by making love with your sweetheart.

Below is a personal story from a husband whose sex life has suffered not because of his wife’s weight gain but instead from her lack of self-esteem:

I too suffer from having an overweight spouse/wife. We have been married 14 years and she has continued to put on weight throughout this time leaving me increasingly sexually frustrated. We discuss it but it always ends in tears and nothing ever seems to happen. It is a lose/lose situation, either way I feel bad and she does too. Now I’m almost 40 and wondering if my libido has diminished completely  because I have no sexual feelings towards my wife at all and although I love her It scares me because I feel like our relationship is dying. I’m 160 pounds and she is 190 or something like that. I’m almost feeling like I should be going to get therapy or something. When I try to initiate relations I can sense her reluctance and lack of enthusiasm and it just takes the wind from my sails so to speak. I feel like I’m the one with the problem, of course its a shared problem. She rarely initiates, cannot wear lingerie and just cannot seem to be sexy in any way, which she tells me is due to the blow obesity has dealt to her self esteem. The whole thing has me worried about us. She says she will make an effort to do something about her weight and has made appointments with a naturopath and  a nutritionist. I hope she is on the road to becoming healthier happier person. Whatever happens I don’t think its going to be an easy time, but nobody ever said marriage was easy.

I would never think that I’d have to convince a person to have sex with their spouse but unfortunately that’s what I’m doing.  Your spouse loves you and wants to be with you.  I’m not saying that you can keep gaining weight and that it won’t affect your sex life.  You must get fit and healthy to have a better sex life and to improve your relationship overall but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still have sex during that process. 

Step outside of yourself – your spouse wants to feel desired by you! Show them how sexy they are and respect yourself enough to know that you’re sexy too! So go ahead – have sex with your spouse!

 

**The narrative above was emailed to me by a member of Myfatspouse.org  Thank you for contributing your personal story and raising awareness of this problem so that it may help others.

See Videos section “Does His Weight Gain Mean Less Sex?”

Helpful links:

A WebMd article on sex and weight that gives advice on how to rev up your sex life for overweight couples.

Is Your Body Image Bad for the Bedroom? is a self-test about body image with some follow-up articles on improving your body image.

365 Nights of Sex: Can It Strengthen Your Marriage? is the story of two long-married couples who found out if more frequent sex could change their marriage.

 Are You In A Low Sex Marriage? is a self-test to measure how “normal” your sex life may be in terms of frequency.

 

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We’re in the middle of the holiday feeding season and if you’re not careful, you’ll start to resemble those very same animals you’re so ravenously consuming.  It’s so much easier to gain weight than to lose it so here are a few holiday tips:

  • I know its exciting to see the mounds of food in front of you and you want to eat a full portion of it all but please refrain.  Instead, try arranging your plate with three bites or so of each food.  I know your heart sinks at such a notion but remember you’ll have that many more plates as leftovers all week!  You’ll still eat the food, just not all in one sitting.
  • Don’t drink your calories.  I know hot chocolate, cider, and eggnog are delicious but you might as well have melted a candy bar and had that with your plate of ham.  Choose dessert or a drink – they’re basically the same.  But if you must, choose a homemade, healthier recipe for these holiday drinks.
  • A common trick I used to always use before dates was to eat a light snack first so that I could concentrate on the conversation and not be counting down the minutes before we ate.  Before you head to the in-laws for your annual holiday party, eat some light soup or fruit together so that you don’t attack the buffet table once you get there.  It’ll allow you to socialize with the family for a bit and avoid over consumption. 
  • My sister and my mantra one holiday season was “NO LEFTOVERS!” and so we acted as the family garbage disposal together.   Why we did this – I don’t know?  It was a delicious memory but should never be repeated.  Leftovers are great and they allow for the holiday to continue a few days after the event has passed.  Try instead of a turkey sandwich, a turkey salad!  Add some leftover turkey to a bowl of vegetables and put a tablespoon of gravy on top for flavor.  Don’t put all of the leftovers into a giant, fatty casserole – instead mix each delicious leftover in a healthy dish.
  • Enroll with your honey in a winter marathon so that you have motivation to continue exercising through the holidays.   Make it even better by enrolling in one that is in a warmer locale like California or even the Bahamas!  Both are holding winter marathons in 2010.  That way you can be healthy, fit, and have a romantic getaway with your sweetie!

Holidays are a time to celebrate family and togetherness.  Show your love for your family by being healthy and setting a good example for a healthy life.  Control yourself during the holidays and you’ll look great for pictures and even be able to fit into that sexy holiday lingerie!

Helpful links:

The Diet Detective:  Winter Drinks and Their Calories discusses many popular holiday drinks and compares them with healthier alternatives.

How to Avoid Holiday Overeating investigates the tradition behind holiday feasting and tips for healthy eating.

Life in fast forward

 

Your life thus far has been pretty good.  You’ve been fit and healthy all throughout your single life and managed to attract your current spouse.  Now you’ve put on some weight and do not look or feel like the person you once were.  Putting on some weight may seem like a completely personal decision and obstacle for oneself, however it has some of the worst effects on your spouse.  If you don’t take control now, your life can become something you never thought it would.  Here is the story of a husband who has seen his marriage turn into something he never anticipated:

“Where to begin? I met my wife in High School when she was a 5-foot tall, 120 lb, size 2P. We dated throughout college and when we married 7 years later she was up to 135 lb and a size 6 or so. Three kids later (now ages 9, 8, and 6) she is now 230 lb and a size 22W with a BMI of 45 (Morbidly Obese).

When we were in High School I was at 135 lb with a 28 inch waist and body fat of 5%. 17 years later I am at 140 lb with a 29 inch waist and a body fat of 8%. I am resentful that my wife cannot participate in any activities with the kids, I coach both of my boys in football and baseball. I am the one playing soccer with my daughter and catch with the boys. I am always the one who goes skiing with them and teaching them to ride their bikes.

She now has GERD, sleep apnea, urinary incontinence, and arthritis. She has a history of heart disease and diabetes in her family. It’s like watching a slow suicide. 

She can’t sit like a woman anymore with her knees together or legs crossed, her second belly hangs down too low. Her arms are as big as my legs. She can’t find anything to wear except over sized knit shirts that expose her breasts when she bends over. She has to wear a 2X shirt which has a 45 inch bust (hers is only 40 inch) to go over her bellies

She fills her day with volunteering which sounds great but neglects many things, especially her eating and lifestyle. I am resentful that my wife will volunteer for PTA or Church activities yet have no time to work out, eat right, and take care of other domestic activities. When the kids are gone there will be nothing in common between us.”

One would never look at this once fit, cute, happy newlywed couple and be able to imagine that 17 years later they would be in this situation.  You never think this would happen to you but it can.  Don’t let your weight gain hurt your family.  Take responsibility and lose weight so that you can be an active spouse and parent.  Show your love for your family by taking care of yourself.

 

 

**The narrative above was emailed to me by a member of Myfatspouse.org  Thank you for contributing your personal story and raising awareness of this problem so that it may help others.

Don’t hate the weight

For the most part, no one likes to gain excess weight.  And who would? It has the power to completely distort your former good looks and can make normal activity completely exhausting.  It heightens your risk for premature death and imposes limitations on your activities and opportunities.

Don’t beat yourself up and don’t lose hope.  Try this instead: check yourself out! Strip down and stand in front of a mirror in all of your glory. Don’t hate what you see.  Love yourself and every part of yourself but take notice of what doesn’t look right.  Don’t criticize yourself negatively, try instead to look at your body objectively.  Look in the mirror regularly as you continue to lose weight and even after you’ve hit your goal.  Never let yourself get away with the excuse that you had never realized you were gaining weight or that you hadn’t taken a good look at yourself in awhile.

If your spouse is the one who has put on weight, encourage them to do the same.   Support them in making their body the healthiest it can be but to love it all along the way.  Don’t let your spouse insult themselves or their bodies.  If they focus on how much they love themselves then they can start to realize that the best way to show their love is to treat their bodies right.

It is important to note that weight gain is not healthy and is detrimental to a marriage.  But even more so is self-hate.  You deserve better than to constantly put yourself down and so does your body!  Lose weight for all the right reasons and do it the right way.

Helpful links:

16 Ways I Learned to Love My Body is a Glamour Magazine article on creating a positive body image

Feel Better About Yourself Naked is an excellent article by Carrie Lewis about improving your sexual self-confidence.

One of the reasons you or your spouse has put on weight is because you’re not working out.  Each reason you’re coming up with to not workout is just an excuse.  Life will never slow down, there will never be a time that’s less hectic for you; your problems only change they don’t go away.  Here are some of the top excuses for being lazy:

  • “I don’t have time.” No way am I buying that one – if the Obama’s have time to exercise every morning, YOU have time to exercise. Most people don’t understand that you don’t need to spend hours at the gym to get a good workout.  Gold’s Gym gives you a free personal training session when you first sign up and trainers are always milling around to answer questions.  They can all tell you that you only really need to be there between 30 minutes to an hour.  Warm up with cardio for 5 minutes, work two muscle groups (usually 3 sets of 12 reps), and do some interval cardio training.  Done for the day! If it absolutely pains you to go to the gym, then find other ways to work exercise into your schedule (details in the excuse listed below).
  • gold_sgym2009-01-10-1231628578“I can’t afford a gym membership” That’s fine, no worries! You can exercise just fine for free.  While you’re cooking, lift heavy cans.  While you’re watching TV do some crunches and pushups every commercial break.  Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Park far away and walk the distance of the parking lot wherever you go. You get what I’m saying!
  • “I’m too tired to exercise, I need to relax!” The more lazy you are the more sluggish you become.  It’ll surprise you how much energy you’ll have once you actually begin working out; the hardest part is actually getting up off the couch.  Start small if that seems less intimidating to you.  Decide to work out for just ten minutes, soon you’ll build up to more.  This is especially true for when you go to the gym – once you make the effort to actually go, you don’t want to turn around and go home too soon.
  • “I’m too fat for the gym, it’s embarassing!” While commercials and advertisements show gorgeous models with buff bodies working out at the gym, that image is far from reality.  There is far less spandex and six packs and much more sweat and fat there than anything.  People go to the gym to get in shape – you don’t go starting that way already.  Don’t be ashamed, it’s far more embarassing to be fat your whole life than fat at the gym for a couple of months.
  • “I don’t know what to do at the gym…I look stupid” I hear you on that one.  I would always slyly look  out of the corner of my eye at the person next to me whenever I was at the gym to see what they were doing and I’d imitate it a few minutes after they would move on to their next exercise.  A more effective method than that would be to sign up for freetrainers.com for free.  It is a hidden gem.  You fill out information on your goals, weight, height, nutrient intake (optional), and you get a weekly layout for which exercises to do which days (you choose how many days a week) and an instructional tutorial on how to do each exercise.  It is literally exactly what a trainer would teach you but it’s much less expensive.
  • “I have no motivation to do it” How about not being fat anymore?  Once you start working out and seeing the difference you won’t ever want to go back to what you were; it opens your eyes.  If you’ve never been particularly thin or don’t even remember what you looked like skinny why not play around with photoshop and see just how great you’d look. 
  • steroid-bodybuilder0032“The gym’s boring” No way! I worked as a Front Desk Receptionist at Gold’s Gym and I loved being there.  There’s no better place to people watch than at the gym.  With the members who were trying way too hard to be sexy, the grunting beefcakes, the guys who flex in the mirrors, and the cute old couples working out together there’s always something to catch your eye.  The best thing I realized from working there is that once you become a “regular” and get to know other members and the staff, the gym is fun because it’s social and you all have a common interest.
  • “I have to watch the kids” Great! Have them exercise with you! Kids like to run around and feel like big kids by lifting little weights and jogging with their parents.  You’re their hero – they want to be just like you!  This sets a great example for them and will create a habit of healthy living.  Plus, they’ll be completely tuckered out afterwards and you can all take a nap!  If it absolutely pains you to workout with them and it seems more hectic than fun, take them to a gym that provides daycare services.  Gold’s Gym and 24 Hour Fitness both provide daycare for no more than $2/hr per kid – much less than any babysitter.
  • “I have no one to workout with” Really? How about your spouse! See the  Move it to lose it! post.

Quit making excuses – you can do it! Exercise has countless benefits for your health and your marriage.  Do it for yourself and do it for your spouse.  Live a long, healthy life together!

Helpful links:

Excuses, Excuses is an MSNBC article that discusses an American Council on Exercise’s survey that studied the various excuses for not working out.

Time for Exercises, Not Excuses is a USA Today article that tells Americans to “stop whining” and hit the gym.

Move it to lose it!

partner-body-toning-01-fiss296It’s all well and good to want to work out but what are the odds that you’re actually going to go through with it?  Good news!  Now that you’re married you’ve got a built-in workout buddy! This is of course assuming you are both  willing to lose the weight at this point.  If you both have the initial motivation, you can encourage one another when one or the other of you wants to give up and quit.  Plus, no one wants to be the big blob sitting on the couch while your spouse hits the gym day after day.

It feels great to sit at home with your spouse and cuddle up and watch TV but that gets old fast.  Keep things fun and exciting by hitting the gym together.  And if you really need that TV, no worries!  Most gyms now have TVs that you can watch while you do cardio.  Gold’s Gym even has a cardio cinema where they replace movie chairs with treadmills and they have movies going all day!

Even better than going to the gym would be to find fun outdoor activities within your own community.  Rock climbing, skiing, hiking, canoeing, and swimming are all cool activities that can also be great dates.  Keep the romance alive – switch it up!

Exercise can change your attitude by giving you a feeling of invigoration, a clear head, and a satisfied feeling of exhaustion.  It can help your relationship by being a great outlet to work off frustration and anger and give you a chance to de-stress.  It also keeps your relationship strong by providing you with a common goal and an energetic activity to embark on together.

So give it a shot!  Work out together every week for a month and see what a change it can make in your relationship.

Helpful links:

Partner Up: Lose Weight With Your Spouse is an article on Families.com that explains how your chances of losing weight are better when you try it with your spouse and includes research studies to back it up.

Work Out With Your Partner is another great article that lists several different activites to do with your spouse to lose weight.

Regain your frame!

You’ve gotten married, almost inevitably put on weight, and now you’ve reached the point of actually wanting to do something about it.  First thing you need to do is analyze your lifestyle.  What is so different about what you’re doing now that you’re fat and married than when you were thin and single?  Here are a few things that you can do to get healthy and strengthen your marriage at the same time!

lose_weight1

  • We all want to cook delicious meals for our spouse but too many of them can make us gain weight.  Substitute “light” “skim” or “fat-free” options gradually; begin by making it half healthy and half original recipe so that their taste buds can adjust.  Eventually switch over to completely fat-free and hopefully they won’t even notice!
  • Enjoy your meals together and eat slowly; use this time to relax and reconnect with your spouse.  The longer you take to eat the easier it will become for you to recognize when you are full to avoid overeating.
  • Don’t try to eat as much as your spouse who may be bigger than you.  Don’t take second helpings to be polite or to keep pace with your spouse.  It’s okay for them to continue eating even when you are through – it’s just more time for you to sit together and visit.
  • Instead of watching TV to relax, go for a walk together instead. It’s low intensity but still keeps you moving and gives you some nice alone time.
  • Trade off meal duties between the two of you to add a little variety.  By cooking healthy meals and finding different recipes your diet can always be interesting and new!
  • Go shopping for workout clothes together – you always want to wear new clothes and you’ll be more likely to hit the gym if you want to show off your cute outfit and cool new sneakers.
  • Don’t deprive yourselves of favorite foods and treats.  All foods are fine in moderation so be sure to incorporate them into your diet, especially to celebrate events together.  Keep in mind though, there’s no reason to completely pig out on special occasions – you’ll be finding something to celebrate all the time with that attitude!
  • Encourage each other with positive reinforcement.  Tell them how great they look and what a good job they’re doing – do NOT be the diet/exercise police for one another.

Finally, keep up old habits.  Try to remember the reasons why you used to want to look good: to be attractive to the opposite sex and to feel good about yourself. I’m sure you still want those same things! Eat healthy and workout like you used to when you had more of an incentive to look good.  Make small changes every day and you’ll find yourself with more energy, a clear head, and a hot bod – all are great things for your marriage!

Helpful links:

Help Your Spouse Lose Weight is an article from BellaOnline: The Voice of Women that details the different ways to encourage weight loss.